Safe Flooring Options for Rabbit Runs
Most first time rabbit owners often focus on the size, material, and quality of the hutch they purchase for their rabbit. While all of these are valid considerations, most rabbit hutches have an open bottom, which makes having rabbit run flooring ready to be installed when the hutch is assembled very important.
If you have not selected a hutch yet, the first decision to make is where the hutch will be located. Indoor hutchesand Outdoor hutches are built differently. While you could use an outdoor rabbit hutch indoors, an indoor rabbit hutch would not protect your rabbit from the elements if they will be living outdoors.
Some rabbit owners purchase a rabbit exercise pen for their bunnies to stretch their legs in a safe area. Other rabbit owners allow their rabbits to hop around their house or in their back yard for exercise. If you choose to let your rabbit exercise freely in your home, it is recommended that you rabbit proof a certain room for them to exercise in to make sure they do not hurt themselves or find opportunities to be mischievous. If your rabbit hops around your garden or yard, never leave them outside alone; five minutes is enough time for a predator to attack them.
Once you have selected your rabbit’s dream hutch and or an exercise pen, the next step is selecting a flooring that is safe and comfortable for them to hop on and relax on.
First, we will discuss what types of flooring to avoid:
- Never use newspaper with ink, as your rabbit will chew it and the ink has the potential to be toxic. Also, if you are litter box training your rabbit and have chosen newspaper as the littler box lining, using newspaper to line the floor of your rabbit’s hutch may be confusing and prevent litter training from progressing.
- Carpet is not a rabbit safe choice. Rabbits will chew it, and if ingested, it has the potential to create an intestinal blockage or other health problems. Additionally, it holds onto odors, absorbs urine and it difficult to clean. Many people use chunks of used carpet as rabbit run flooring, which poses another safety hazard because there may be cleaning chemicals in it that are not rabbit safe. Lastly, urine soaked carpet may result in urine leaking through the carpet onto the floor underneath the hutch.
- Cardboard is not recommended, as rabbits will chew it, it holds onto odors and urine will quickly soak through it.
- Your rabbit would prefer if you did not select plastic flooring, as it can be slippery to hop on, and if they chew on it they may become sick.
Flooring for Outdoor Hutches and Exercise Pens
Many rabbit owners opt to place a hutch with an open bottom on grass. While rabbits enjoy living and grazing on this natural floor, owners must be mindful of keeping the grass floor clean, or rotating the hutch’s location to keep the grass fresh and give it a chance to grow back from being trimmed down.
However, there is a signicant drawback to using grass as the floor for a rabbit hutch; it places your rabbit at risk for a predator attack. While some owners have kept rabbits on grass floors successfully, it must be considered that foxes have been known to burrow under a rabbit hutch to gain access to a rabbit.
If you think your rabbit would enjoy time in the grass, a good alternative choice is to purchase a rabbit exercise pen to set up in the grass for daily or weekly play time in the grass. Never leave your rabbit outside in an exercise pen alone; the open top without a human nearby makes them vulnerable to a predator attack.
Some owners who keep rabbits outdoors choose to place their rabbit’s hutch on concrete. While this surface is easy to clean, the style of the hutch must be considered. If the hutch provides lots of shade on the concrete, it would provide a nice cool spot for a rabbit to cool off in the summer. If the hutch does not shade the concrete it allows the rabbit access to, the sun will make the concrete too hot for a bunny’s sweet feet. In the winter time, concrete may also become icy, creating a slipping hazard for rabbits. Covering the concrete with hay can help rabbits regulate their temperature and give them a delicious snack.
Placing a piece of plywood under the hutch and covering it with hay is a good choice for outdoor rabbit hutches; the plywood increases the rabbit hutch’s security, and the hay provides a grazing snack while creating a softer surface to lay on.
Flooring for Indoor Hutches and Exercise Pens
Selecting flooring for indoor hutches requires more careful selection, as rabbit owners must consider protecting the floor of their house from a rabbit chewing it, and from urine and droppings.
If you have vinyl flooring in your home, your rabbit hutch may sit directly on it. If edges are not exposed rabbits generally do not chew on it, and it makes daily clean up easy. Simply cover it with hay to provide a grazing option and to help your rabbit regulate their temperature.
Alternatively, you could purchase a piece of vinyl flooring that fits underneath your hutch. Should you choose to purchase a piece of vinyl flooring specifically for the hutch, be sure to have the edges exposed outside of the hutch, not inside, to avoid your rabbit chewing on the edges.
Indoor hutches or pens can also use a piece of plywood covered with hay as flooring. Should you choose this, regular cleaning will be important to prevent the plywood from holding onto odors.
Whatever type of flooring you select, it is important that the edges are not exposed inside the hutch for several reasons:
- Urine and droppings could get beneath it, defeating the purpose of having the flooring.
- Exposed edges will always be found by a rabbit’s teeth; depending on the type of flooring, it may be toxic for your rabbit to chew it.
- If the exposed edge is wide enough, your rabbit’s leg could become pinched or stuck in it.
- If the exposed edge is sharp, it could cut your rabbit. Rabbits have very thin skin which makes them susceptible to injuries.
No matter what type of flooring you choose, cleaning it regularly will prolong its useful life. When you clean the hutch, be sure to inspect the flooring, and replace it if necessary to keep your rabbit healthy, happy and comfortable.
Our favorite rabbit tested and approved flooring choices are vinyl flooring or plywood, lined with hay. We hope this article helped you select rabbit run flooring that is comfortable, safe, and that your rabbit loves.