What does rabbit proofing involve?
Rabbit proofing one's home involves three things: 1) Preventing destruction of your property; 2) Protecting your companion rabbit(s) from harm; and 3) Providing safe and fun chewing alternatives for your rabbit.
Why is rabbit proofing your home so important?
Preventing rabbits from chewing on electrical cords is of utmost importance, since rabbits can be badly burned or electrocuted. The consequences of biting into an electric wire are too severe to risk relying on training alone. Instead, you must take action to move the cords safely out of reach. Some ways of doing this follow.
So how do I keep electrical cords out of reach?
Spiral cable wrap Radio Shack sells something called "spiral cable wrap". It costs about $3 for10 feet and works like a charm for most, but not every bunny. (Some still manage to chew through it.)
This stuff is very flexible so the cords are still manageable after wrapping. It works well with cords that you might have in the middle of the room or might move quite often, such as vacuum cleaner, phone, video game, extension, lamp and other cords. I keep my portable computer cord wrapped this way, and it's not too bulky.
Plastic tubing (similar to that used in fish tanks, or with "swamp coolers") from a hardware or aquarium store can be split lengthwise with a blade and the wire can be tucked safely inside. A harder, black, pre-slit type of tubing is also available.
Decorative gold and wood-grained wire concealers that stick to the base of walls come in strips, corners, etc., so they can follow the shape of the wall. This is a more costly and time consuming method than the clear plastic tubing above, but is more permanent, and rabbit proof, as well.
Of course, wires can be run behind or above furniture and carpets, but do NOT run your wires under carpets, as this can create a serious fire risk.
How do I keep my rabbit from eating house plants?
Many house plants are toxic. Putting them on high furniture may not keep a rabbit away. Hang them from the ceiling if you have an active bunny, but watch for falling leaves! If you are unsure which plants may be toxic, the House Rabbit Handbook has a complete list of poisonous plants (indoors and outdoors), as do two back issues of House Rabbit Journal.
How do I protect baseboards and wooden furniture?
If a rabbit insists on chewing baseboards, edges of chairs, etc., a board can be put over the places of temptation, making them inaccessible while also providing an acceptable chewing surface. This method should be combined with training your rabbit not to chew on these items.
How do I protect upholstered furniture and beds?
Upholstered furniture and beds that are several inches off the ground are wonderful places for rabbits to hide underneath. However, some will burrow up into the soft underside and make a nest. A flat cardboard box or frame of 2x4s, smaller than the area of the future base, will keep the rabbit out, and won't be seen from human level.
How do I protect walls?
Clear plastic panels from the hardware or plastic supply store can be affixed to the wall to protect against your rabbit chewing into the sheetrock or tearing off the wallpaper. Placing furniture over that spot can also conceal the damage and protect against further chewing.
Primary Author: Nancy La Roche
Primary Photographer: Mary Ann Maier
Sources: HRH, various articles from the HRJ, RHN