How to clean a rabbit cage

How to clean a rabbit cage
(Image credit: Ernst Theimer via Unsplash)

If you're a rabbit owner, you should know how to clean a rabbit cage properly. Whether you keep your rabbits inside in one of the best indoor rabbit hutches, or outdoors in a suitable enclosure, there's ways to ensure you get the best clean that will keep your bunny happy and healthy.

Most rabbit cages aren't really cages, in the sense that they aren't usually small, metal enclosures. When we say "cage" we’re really talking about the habitats on display in our guides to the best rabbit hutch that are then incorporated into a larger enclosure and environment. Most of the time that's a rabbit run, like the best rabbit runs, we've gathered here, which are used as a resting spot or litter area for your rabbits. The enclosure should be at least 3m x 2m x 1m, with 24-hour access for the rabbits to ensure they're happy and healthy.

Rabbits need a safe environment both indoors and outdoors, not only to ensure that they can't escape but in the case of outdoor enclosures, to ensure that predators cannot get in. Rabbit cages will need to be regularly cleaned to remain hygienic and to keep your rabbits happy. Here's all the advice you'll need on how to clean a rabbit cage.

PetsRadar's tips on how to clean a rabbit cage

Daily cleaning

Rabbits are naturally quite clean, but their cages will need a decent amount of maintenance. Rabbits only have one or two areas in their cage that they use as toilets, but understanding how to clean a rabbit cage properly in these areas is crucial. 

An accumulation of urine and faces not only causes an odor, but can attract flies and cause potential health problems, so your rabbit's litter trays will need cleaning out on a daily basis. This involves removing all of the urine, feces and litter, cleaning the litter tray with warm water, drying it and replacing the soiled litter with clean. Diluted white vinegar can also be used, rinsed off and dried to clean the litter tray, as well. 

If your rabbit uses a cage as part of their enclosure, they are likely to use this as a litter tray, so this will need cleaning in the same way as a litter tray. Always replenish your rabbits hay each day, even if it has not been eaten.

Rabbit urine is alkaline, and can contain more calcium than other species’ urine, so often leaves a white residue on plastic or metal. This can easily be cleaned away by using a sponge. If you do this every day, it will not have a chance to build up. Rabbit droppings make excellent fertilizer and can be recycled for this purpose.

Also make sure you change your rabbits’ water daily, and if you use a water bottle also check to make sure it is working properly.

How to clean a rabbit cage

(Image credit: C Speight)

Deep cleaning

You should be removing droppings, urine and dirty litter on a daily basis, but the rest of your rabbits’ enclosure might only need thoroughly cleaning once or twice per week. This does depend upon how tidy your rabbits are, however, so keep that in mind.

Each time you clean this area, you will need to replenish the bedding and hay. If your rabbits are house rabbits, then vacuum or sweep the environment. Outdoor rabbits will need the area sweeping too.

Tidy the environment, check for any damage or wear and tear, and check over the toys and items in their enclosure to ensure they have not been chewed or damaged. Remove anything that you are concerned about.

How to clean a rabbit cage

(Image credit: D Staggs)

Where to put my rabbit while I clean

This depends on the size of your rabbits’ enclosure. It is best to safely segregate them in one area of the enclosure while you clean out that area and then swap them into the clean area, whilst you clean out the other area in the enclosure. This is often less stressful to the rabbits, as they are not leaving their usual enclosure. If this is not possible, then encourage them into their carrier with their favourite treats, so they can be contained in here whilst you clean their area, before placing the carrier back into the clean enclosure and letting them come out in their own time. 

Most rabbits do not like being picked up, and find it stressful, so if you can train them to happily enter their carrier, this reduces the need to handle them for this purpose. Leaving the carrier in their enclosure, with food inside, will encourage them to explore it and to become accustomed to it.

Don't slack off on cleaning

Never underestimate the importance of keeping your rabbits’ environment clean – it is imperative that you learn how to clean a rabbit cage properly. Living in a damp, dirty and smelly environment has health and welfare implications, and is simply not nice for the rabbits. Make sure you set aside adequate time each day for spot cleaning and once or twice weekly for deep cleaning, and ensure you keep sufficient amounts of clean litter, hay and bedding materials.

Claire Speight RVN

Claire currently works in Kettering as a Head Nurse in a practice with a high rabbit caseload, as well as frequently lecturing and writing on rabbits to both veterinary professionals and owners.