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Cage Cleaning


by Emily Popp

Cage cleaning is an important duty, especially when raising rabbits for show. Urine stains take away from the appearance of the coat, and ammonia fumes can harm the rabbit's respiratory system.
Your rabbit's cage should be cleaned at least once a week, more if needed. If the cage has a tray, always make sure there are no droppings coming up through the wire. These can stain the rabbit's fur, attract flies and give the maggots easy access to the rabbit's body, and could also cause problems if ingested. It should be noted that it is normal for a rabbit to eat it's soft night droppings (these look similar to a little cluster of grapes). This is the animals' way of acquiring the vitamins and minerals it's digestive system didn't process the first time around.
A good liner for a cage's pan is newspaper. It is easy to find, but if you don't subscribe to any newspapers, your neighbors, friends, or relatives might have some they can spare. Cedar and pine chips aren't recommended because they have been known to cause respiratory problems over time.
When lining the tray with newspaper, add more than just one sheet. Layer more paper in the corners and where you know your rabbit likes to go to the bathroom, for extra absorbency.
When it's time to dump the contents of the pan, you can do so in a garden or flowerbed. Rabbit manure is excellent fertilizer, especially for roses! The paper should be picked up or buried, and not left laying on the ground, which is unsightly. A good way I've found to pick up soiled paper without even touching it is to find a sturdy stick with a sharp end. All you have to do is skewer the wet part of the paper and toss it into a garbage bag, or wherever else you have designated to put it. It's as simple as that! Before cleaning with vinegar...and after.
Rabbit urine contains large amounts of the mineral calcium carbonate. It builds up in the corners of the pan and on the floor wire, causing unsightly white deposits. These can easily be removed by scrubbing them with plain vinegar. It is a mild acid and will break down the deposits easily.
If your rabbit has a nest box or other hideaway, it's important to clean this too. Dispose of all wet or otherwise unfit bedding materials, and replace them with fresh. During the winter months it is important to give your rabbit plenty of stray or other form of bedding to insulate and help keep the rabbit warm.
Why not keep your rabbit's cage clean? There's really nothing to it, and you'll be doing both yourself and your pet a big favor.

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