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BUNNY 911 – If your rabbit hasn’t eaten or pooped in 12-24 hours, call a vet immediately!  Don’t have a vet? Check out VET RESOURCES 

The subject of intentional breeding or meat rabbits is prohibited. The answers provided on this board are for general guideline purposes only. The information is not intended to diagnose or treat your pet.  It is your responsibility to assess the information being given and seek professional advice/second opinion from your veterinarian and/or qualified behaviorist.

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Forum HABITATS AND TOYS Slowly Transitioning to Free Roam – Need Help Getting Bun Downstairs

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    • Rae & Gus + Lily
      Participant
      20 posts Send Private Message

      Hey again!

      Hope I don’t post too much on here.

      So, Gus’ current setup (before his surgery, he is currently in a recovery pen) is in our kitchen. Our biggest issue was closing it off in a way that was still easily accessible for our cat and family. (Side note: our cat has never exhibited any predatory behavior towards him, if anything she very much cannot be bothered by him. I would never give her free access if I had even the slightest inclination she wanted to hurt/hunt him in anyway.) We came up with a door system:

      While I am confident the kitchen is enough space for him, I have found out that he is very scared of the oven. He cowers in the corner whenever it is on, or if we even put a pan on the stovetop. He hates it. He also likes to be where my significant other and I are, and most of the time that is in the bedroom and ultimately, free roam is the goal.

      So here is my issue: our bedroom is sort of a loft style where you go up a flight of stairs and the second level is the bedroom. The stairs are extremely narrow and he is too afraid to go down on his own, but has no problems going up (as a matter of fact whenever given access he much prefers being upstairs). Does anyone have experience with ideas on how to make a bunny feel safe going downstairs? We have considered a ramp on the side, but I am afraid it will be too steep. We have also considered making his own little bunny stairs, basically like a series of small shelf type things attached to the wall, but I think that could get pricy and without them being attached to a stud I’d be afraid of some sort of failure, even if he is only 4 pounds.

      We tried to teach him how to do a zig-zag type thing down them, but he will only go down one if it is onto our arm and then the step itself. Any ideas or advice would be greatly appreciated! I’m trying to have some sort of setup for once he is healed from his neuter, that way he never has to be alone downstairs near the scary stove again!


    • Bam
      Moderator
      15218 posts Send Private Message

      Cats do seem very good at recognising a rabbit as a family member, i e non-prey, once they have been properly introduced an the bun’s status as a family member has been established.

      Its lovely that Gus will be free roam! As for the stairs, is there a chance he could stop being afraid of it and dare try going down them? I had a bun who didn’t seem able to go down a flight of stairs, until one day when he just did it, like it was nothing.

      I remember training my dog to walk in stairs when she was a puppy. I used a clicker and treats. The problem with a puppy is rather the opposite, though, they can hurt themselves because they want to run down stairs at full speed.


    • Azerane
      Moderator
      4476 posts Send Private Message

      Are your stairs timber or carpeted? Timber stairs are very slippery for bunnies because they don’t have any paw pads for grip. In addition, rabbits struggle going down stairs because of the way they hop, it risks them tumbling over. My rabbit used to fly straight up the stairs, but was always much slower going down and used to take each step more on a sideways angle.

      If your stairs are slippery I would start by somehow attaching carpet or something with grip to them. Otherwise if they are extremely steep the individual steps might simply be too narrow for him to safely navigate down. You could try somehow attaching a half step into each step for him, but you’d also still need room to walk, and you’d need to alternate which side the half step was on for him to zig zag down.


    • Ellie from The Netherlands
      Participant
      2118 posts Send Private Message

      He’s so cute! I’ve got no experience with bunnies and stairs, but we do have a senior rabbit who always loved to climb. He’s a bit stiff and we’ve built a ramp for him to get onto the bed. It’s about 0,5 m high, 1 m long, and 30 cm wide. It’s covered with a sticky anti-slip foam mat. He even runs up and down it, so I wonder how a younger bun will fare with a bit of training.

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Forum HABITATS AND TOYS Slowly Transitioning to Free Roam – Need Help Getting Bun Downstairs