Getting your bunny to come out of their cage can be an exercise in patience. Bunnies are naturally shy animals and will take time to warm up to their new owners.
To help coax your bunny out of their cage, make sure your room is quiet with no other pets or distractions. Lie down on the floor so you’re at your bunny’s level and bribe them with a treat. If your bunny comes out which may take a while, hold the treat while she nibbles it. Be patient, it could be a long process.
Maybe you’ve tried this and your bunny still won’t leave their cage or playpen. There are other reasons your bunny may not leave the cage even with bribes. Patience is key and perhaps there are some other strategies you can try.
How To Set Up Your Bunny Room
Floor surface is something we don’t even think about when it comes to our bunny. Generally, we have experience with other pets or friends pets such as dogs and cats who will walk, run, and play anywhere in the house.
But bunnies have sock-like fur around their paws which means hardwood, varnished surfaces make your bunny look like they are ice skating when trying to walk on them!
It’s the same feeling you have when you put on a pair of socks on a slippery wood floor. You can’t take off very quickly and a wrong step could literally have you falling over. Your bunny doesn’t feel confident or comfortable on this kind of surface.
When we first brought home our bunny Groot, we set her cage area upon our lounge carpet rug. Through her first weeks with us and her inquisitive personality, she would explore a little more each day or so.
But only to the edge of the rug. She would test one paw over the carpet to see if she could walk on the hardwood. Every time she would put a paw on the wood, she would slip. This kept her on the rug for quite a while.
If we had set her cage area up on the hardwood floor, I don’t think she would have come out straight onto a slippery floor. If you don’t have carpet, try using a blanket or foam mats as flooring for your bunny’s cage area so she can feel more comfortable leaving her cage. Further, make sure there’s a bridge between your cage box or litter box and the floor.
In the beginning, our Grooty was a tiny baby and being so shy, there wasn’t much chance of her jumping out of the cage to explore. So providing a ramp or bridge to connect the cage and floor can make the transition easier for your bunny. We just used a wooden bridge toy that is bendable (see Amazon link here). Don’t use wire ramps that can be painful on a bunny’s paws.
How To Bribe Your Bunny With Treats
This is something we had to do at first to get Groot to leave her initial transport box we used to bring her home. As bunnies are very shy being prey animals by nature, trying to force them out of a box or cage is not a good idea especially when they are trying to get used to their new environment.
We bribed her with a small piece of banana (now her favourite treat!) and left it in her cage. It took some hours but eventually, she came out of her box to eat it. However, that was only part of the battle as she was still in her cage, just not the box anymore.
Feeding treats out of your hand is a great way to start building a comforting relationship with your bunny. This could be a piece of carrot or our bunny’s favourite, banana.
Lie down on the floor so you are at your bunny’s level and let her come to you. Or start by offering treats through the wall of her playpen or cage. This could take many tries and efforts so it’s important you create a routine with this every day.
Most bunnies are curious animals and will eventually warm up to the idea you have tasty treats for them.
As your bunny gets more comfortable, you can place the treat right outside her cage area or door.
Eventually, your bunny will come to eat it but don’t pat her. Just let your bunny eat in the beginning.
As your bunny gets used to this, you can now do the same thing but lie on the floor close to the treat. Your bunny may come and sniff you which is great progress!
Just let your bunny do this without touching her and let her eat her treats. As time goes on, you can start to gradually touch your bunny.
Start by extending a finger or hand for her to sniff. Your bunny may allow you to gently pat and rub her head.
If not, don’t worry, create that routine each day and let your bunny sniff, explore and get used to your presence and touch. Eventually, you’ll be able to pat her head and back when she is used to you and comfortable.
To continue luring your bunny out of their cage area, start offering treats further and further away from the cage. Call her and talk to her to encourage her to come to you and her treats. This process could take months so don’t get discouraged if it’s taking a lot of time.
The Time NOT To Handle Your Bunny
The number one mistake you can make when trying to coax your bunny out of their cage area is to pick them up every time. This can undo the work you have put in to build trust and a comfortable bond with your bunny.
Moreover, bunnies really don’t like being held and cuddled even though they look so cute and all you want to do is squish them close to you.
Only pick your bunny up if it’s absolutely necessary like moving her so you can clean her litter box or cage. Forcing a bunny to be held is actually a predatory image to your bun which creates a large stress response.
In doing so, your bun will kick and flail which can cause spinal fractures and broken limbs due to their powerful legs and weaker spines.
If you’re lucky, a very small percentage of bunnies actually like to be held and cuddled. Most do not. However, they will lie close to you and snuggle you on the ground once they are comfortable.
Let your bunny get comfortable enough with you to come out of their cage area themselves and lie with you on the floor.
How To Pick Up Your Bunny
As mentioned above, there are times where you may have to pick up your bunny. For example, a trip to the vet or needing to remove her from her cage to clean it.
It’s important, NEVER pick your bunny up by their ears. You’re not a 20th-century magician and it will cause a lot of pain to your bunny. Instead, place one hand under the ribcage, and the other hand under her bum. Lift your bunny quickly and securely and turn your bunny so her feet are against your chest to make her feel more grounded.
If your bunny struggles, release them and try again. This is only for necessary circumstances. Coaxing your bunny out of their cage area doesn’t involve picking them up and placing them outside.
Don’t panic if your bunny stays in their cage area for a long time. I know we thought something was wrong when our bunny wouldn’t come out of her box.
That’s why we wanted to write this article and share this with you so you know exactly the steps you need to take to make your bunny feel comfortable in their new environment.
It will take time. Be patient. Be loving. And your bunny will warm up to you and be able to show you the same love back.