A rabbit can be a handful at times, always hopping around and getting into trouble. Whether it’s in your home or your yard, you want to keep it out of specific areas. You might protect them with a pen or baby gate. But what should you do if your furry friend keeps hopping out of its gate?
If your rabbit frequently escapes from its pen, create an enclosure with stronger material that a rabbit can’t chew through, or make it taller so it can’t jump over the top. Bury part of the gate 6-8 inches so your rabbit can’t dig out from underneath.
This article gives 12 different ways to keep your rabbit safe and comfortably enclosed.
Make the Gate Out of Metal
Rabbits love to chew on anything that they can rip through. They will easily chew through the wood on a gate to get through it. Making the gate out of metal will keep the rabbits from chewing through it.
Also, making the gate out of wood and putting metal guards on the lower parts of the gate itself will help keep the durability of the gate. This will keep the integrity of the gate to keep your rabbit from crossing over.
Apply Furring Strips
Furring strips can be an excellent way to fortify a gate and keep a rabbit from getting through. Furring strips are thick strips of wood that can be placed vertically on the gate to keep animals from chewing on the gate itself. This is a good method if your wish to either distract your rabbit or just keep them from chewing on the important parts of the gate.
ARE YOU BUILDING A RABBIT ENCLOSURE?
Find out everything you need to get for a new pet rabbit to make sure you aren’t missing something critical. Items I’ve used and strongly recommend are listed on my page Checklist: What You Need to Buy For a New Pet Rabbit.
Bury Metal Flashing
Your rabbit will love to dig in general. Rabbits naturally live in dug burrows so their first instinct is to dig under anything that gets in their way. To combat this when building that gate, you can bury metal flashing 6-8 inches vertically down to discourage and stop your rabbit from getting underneath.
Get Your Rabbit a Digging Platform or Box
You can keep your rabbits digging habits contained to their own box or a platform, to keep them from trying to dig underneath something. If a rabbit is bored then they will seek out different entertainment such as digging into an area that you don’t want them in. So, a digging box or platform can be made rather easily to occupy them.
Place Carpet or a Mat at the Base of the Gate
Another way to keep your rabbit from digging under that gate could be the placement of a mat or carpet along its length. This will stop the rabbit from digging as it won’t even know that it’s an option. It’s much more difficult to dig through a carpet or a mat than it is to dig in the dirt. A simple carpet or mat will allow your rabbit to become bored with trying to get through the fence.
TIP: If you’re planning to keep your rabbit outdoors, there are some very common mistakes that have big consequences. To find out what these are, and how to avoid them while setting up your rabbit’s outdoor living environment, see my article How to Keep a Rabbit Outside: A Complete Guide.
Keep Vegetation Away From the Gate
Rabbits love vegetation and will often do what they can to get to it for a snack. So, if you keep vegetation far enough away from the gate it may keep your rabbit from trying to get to the other side. But keeping it away from the gate might not be enough if they can still smell it and want to get to it.
Give Them Plenty of Hay
This is the same concept as the digging platform/box. If you give your rabbit plenty of hay or other snacks then they will see a sufficient amount of food and stay where they are. They won’t have any reason to try to get through to the other side because they have what they want where they are.
Many new owners are very concerned about giving their rabbit unlimited hay. To find out how much hay is safe for your rabbit, and which types of hay are the healthiest, check out my article Should Rabbits Have Unlimited Hay here.
Build the Gate Higher Than Four Feet
Rabbits can jump as high as four feet vertically, and if it really wants to get past a gate, it may try to jump it. Rabbits are very agile on their paws, and jumping is natural for them. So, by building your gate higher than four feet it will have a much more difficult time if it plans to jump over.
The higher the gate, the less likely your rabbit will be to try and risk a jump, thus keeping it that much safer.
Keep Objects Away From the Gate
Oftentimes, a rabbit will seek new ways to accomplish what they want. They are innovative creatures and won’t stop at just a simple barrier. If there are objects near the gate that they could jump on top of to get to higher ground to ultimately get over a high gate then they will try it.
Simply keep objects away from the gate itself to keep your bunny from trying this tactic.
Use a Bitter Smelling/Tasting Spray
The nose of a rabbit is very sensitive, having one of its highest sensory inputs and twenty times stronger than a human nose. Because of this, the use of certain scents can keep your rabbit away from an area without bothering anyone else.
Some scents that your rabbit doesn’t like are garlic, vinegar, and crushed red peppers. By sprinkling these near your gate it will keep your rabbit from coming too close. You can also mix these scents into a spray that you could spray onto the gate itself. The worse the smell the better to keep your rabbit from coming too close.
Use an Exercise Pen to Keep Them Contained
Sometimes the best way to keep your rabbit from trying to get through a barrier is to give them a different barrier. An exercise pen will keep a rabbit occupied especially if there are toys and food within the pen.
This will most likely keep your rabbit from being bored for some time. Just make sure to keep the bunny occupied or you might see some determination in finding a new play area for your rabbit.
Keep Aggressive Animals on the Other Side
Rabbits are prey and survivalists who always take the safety of their life into account. Sometimes a simple fix to keeping them out of an area is putting a more aggressive animal on the other side of the pen, like a dog. This will keep your rabbit from even wanting to risk going over to the other side of that gate.
The fear will keep them safe, but it’s important to not excessively stress your rabbit.
Dealing With Wild Rabbits
Many of these suggestions are catered towards rabbit owners and are looking to keep their pet rabbits in. But what if you’re trying to keep a wild rabbit out?
Some of the best tips that will keep wild rabbits from even coming near would start with the bitter smelling spray to keep rabbits away. Also keeping an aggressive animal in the area to discourage the rabbits from trying to get there works well.
Using metal gating and burying the metal flashing is a good way to keep a rabbit away from the area that you want them to stay away from. Also, I highly suggest making your gate at least four feet tall.
Perhaps an extreme yet effective way to deal with your rabbit problem would be to call an exterminator to get rid of the rabbits. This would definitely keep any rabbits from trying to get through your gate.
If you see this as not being an option then you could seek out the burrow and move the nest and the rabbits with it to a new location where they won’t bother you.
Rabbits Capabilities, Digging to Jumping
Rabbits are versatile creatures who will seek new ways to get around a problem, especially if they are determined enough. By understanding them and what they can do you can better keep them out of an area regardless if you are the owner or the victim.
Rabbits’ ability to dig is very effective. Their burrows are often 12 to 18 inches under the surface which means that given enough time they may very well dig that far down. With a gate, they will most likely take the least amount of digging possible and by placing metal flashing underneath they will become discouraged and stop trying to dig underneath. That’s why the buried metal still works.
Their digging abilities are one of the main reasons rabbits can be difficult to contain. If your rabbit does escape, they won’t naturally know to return to their cage unless you do a few things first. To see what these are, take a look at my article all about how to attract a pet rabbit back home after it escapes.
Rabbits have very powerful hind legs and will use them. A rabbit will jump four feet vertically but they can also jump as far as nine feet horizontally. This can be used to the rabbit’s advantage as it tries to hop over a fence or gate that is keeping it out of a specific area.
Understanding a rabbit’s eyesight can help find new ways to keep it out of an area. They can see 3-D objects but can’t interpret them as well as humans. So often leaving objects that could be viewed as predators will keep a rabbit from straying into the area you want to keep them out of.
Knowing these few things about rabbits will greatly enhance your ability to control them to keep them away from anything that your want to keep from them. By utilizing these facts, tips, and tricks you will have a bunny-proof gate that will keep those rabbits out and keep you happy knowing that they can’t and won’t get in.
More Helpful Information
- Concrete vs. Grass: What Is Best for a Rabbit Run? – Worried about your rabbit escaping? You’ll need to pick a substrate that’ll keep your rabbit happy and from escaping. Take a look at this article to figure out what’s best to use and why.