Dog Crates as Rabbit Cages
Puppy crates (a.k.a dog crates) come in a range of sizes and are often wider and taller that cages aimed at rabbits. Those designed for large breeds have room to add a DIY shelf for even more floor space.
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Most dog crates also fold flat for storage and transport, another useful feature that most rabbit cages do not include.
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Here are a few points to consider when choosing a dog crate:
Dog crates come in a variety of sizes but it is best to pick the largest available to give your rabbit the most room possible, these are generally around 48″ long x 30″ wide x 36″ high (120cm x 76cm x 90cm). A crate this size will cost approximately £50-60 new (example at Amazon) but they are also widely available second hand.
The bar spacing varies on dog crates so pay particular attention if you have a very small breed or baby rabbit. If the spacing is too wide you may need to cover over with mesh to prevent your rabbit putting its head through the bars. You can buy mesh from DIY stores and it is easy to attach using cable ties.
Depending on the brand, crates either have a door on the short side, long side, or one on each. You’ll need to decide which you need depending on where you are going to position the crate. A door on the long side usually provides the best access to reach your bunny and clean the back of the cage.
Most dog crates are sold with either metal or plastic trays. Either is fine for rabbits although plastic makes less noise if your rabbit throws things around and is less slippy. The tray can easily be covered with something such as vetbed though so this is not a major concern. Some crates have a wire ‘floor’ covering the tray which needs to be removed or covered for use with rabbits.
The main draw back with dog crates compared to rabbit cages is the depth on the tray. A dog crate tray is around 1″ deep which is no good for containing litter or hay and can leave a lot of mess outside the crate. To solve this issue you can create a frame around the base of the crate using wooden skirting, Perspex or corrugated plastic (e.g. Correx). A deep tray (e.g. a storage box) containing any litter and bedding is another way to reduce the mess.
The height of dog crates makes them ideal for adding a shelf to create extra floor space. A simple shelf can be made by threading lengths of wood through the bars to support a wooden board or click here for detailed plans for building a dog crate shelf.
If you don’t feel up to the challenge of building a shelf, a plastic cat carrier with a flat top can be added inside to provide a den and something to sit on.