X-pen with lightweight walls and handmade houses of cardboard.
Portable wire exercise pens are the most versatile, the easiest to clean, and the best way to give your rabbit what they need. Space, toys and a clean environment of their own while living inside with you! For those who want a quick housing solution without spending a lot of time and money, the wire pen arrangement (X-pens also called puppy corrals) gives you the best housing for your money and helps the rabbit feel at home in their own space. Exercise pens allow for the bunny to see what is going on around them. This gives a feeling of knowing what's happening and of being included in the household activities.
Exercise pens are made up of eight heavy-gauge wire "panels", all connected together, so that they can be stretched out and shaped into a square, rectangle, octagon, or whatever shape you want. Each panel is 24" wide. The total space when panels are made into a square is 4' x 4', or 16 square feet (for a bonded pair, we recommend two pens and a space not less than 4' x 6'). When purchasing the pens, you can choose from these heights: 24", 30", 36", 42". We recommend a 30" height, 36" for jumpers. One of the eight panels acts as a swinging door when opened, and the pen is secured shut with large dog leash clips that come with the panels. Note: the wire slats of the pen must be close enough together so that a tiny rabbit cannot walk through! When not in use, the panels fold up like an accordion and can be easily stored in a closet. They can also be easily transported by car to another location. For a larger space, many people choose a corner of a room, using the two corner walls as walls of the pen. This makes an even bigger space for the rabbit, since you have all eight panels to complete just two sides of the pen.
Sample home base with special floor, rugs, Cardboard sleeping zones
Exercise pens are a good solution for blocking off areas in your home where you don't want bunny to go. To make the pen area smaller, overlap two or three panels and clip together. There is no need to take the panels apart. Need a bigger pen? Buy two and overlap panels as necessary. Is your bunny a jumper? Do you want to keep the cats out? Make a "lid" for the top by placing two 48-inch high panels horizontally over the top of the pen. Clips: Secure the lid to side panels with large clips, so that one panel opens on a hinge, while the other stays in place. The pen companies also make lids but only in rectangular shapes. We use a sheet to cover tops and clothespins to secure.
Flooring: You may use any type of flooring you wish, as long as it's safe for the bunny. You can use pieces of pre-cut linoleum, which can be purchased at home centers for a reasonable price. If you want to add a finished look to the piece of linoleum, glue it to a large piece of plywood and finish the edges with framing or edging material, the kind you would find on an office whiteboard. Make the linoleum-covered platform large enough so that the pen sits nicely on top of it. This of course will require some extra time, money, and effort, but is well worth it. To make a simple floor you may use a shower curtain liner placed down on any floor surface then lay down a flat sheet. Add a nice rug inside. Place pen up on top of the sheet. This makes an immediately home for your bunny. All you need to add is food water crocks, hay basket, litter box and a few toys. Many people also use precision pens when they travel with their bunny. It folds flat in your truck and can be set up in minutes. Pen+shower curtain liner +sheet+crocks+litter box +litter+food + water+hay basket +toys makes for an instant environment where bunny can be.
X-pen setup using two existing walls for even more space.
If you are on a tight budget with money and/or time, use a material called tile board as flooring. You can find tile board in the shower aisle of a large do-ityourself home center. It's sometimes used for shower walls instead of tile. Tile board is usually sold as an 8' x 4' x 1/8"sheet of masonite with a thin white coating on one side. Costing just under 10 dollars, it's less expensive than linoleum, lighter in weight, and easier to maneuver. Inside the pen, make sure the bunny has a place to be when she wants to be left alone, sleep. We have seen dramatic improvements in bunny litter box habits when bunny goes from cage to pen. Many people tell me that their caged bunny -- even when spayed or neutered -- will not use the litter box inside the cage. Once the bunny has more freedom to move about and "get organized", he usually wants to keep his toilet area neater.
Using exercise pens as bunny housing is a wonderful idea. While you are at work or asleep, bunny has the freedom to move around as he pleases. It's a happy medium between caged housing and free roam. For those of you with free-roaming rabbits, good for you! Many rabbits have been granted free-run privileges, or enjoy free run in combination with minimal time in a pen. Also consider NIC or Marchioro settings. Neat idea cubes can be used to create wonderful NIC condos for the upscale bunny in your life! These are wonderful creations-, fun and easy to make too.
Check out The Rabbit Haven's YouTube videos on how to set up housing: