Hi Friends, today I want to share how I designed my “Deluxe Bunny Condominiums” by modifying Midwest Critter Nation cages to fit the needs of bunnies. * Ferret Nation cages can also be modified in similar ways, although I do not have experience with the assembly of Ferret Nation models.
First, I’m going to share the Pros of using Critter Nation cages.
- The cages are metal, which makes them durable, bunny proof, and easy to clean.
- They look really nice!
- Solid floors.
- They are stack-able, up to three levels tall, and can be arranged in a variety of ways.
- They are secure.
- They provide a lot of vertical space for bunnies to stand on their back legs, and jump up and down levels.
- There are so many fun ways you can customize them, from adding additional shelves, to fleece liners, etc.
- Both front doors open, which provides a lot of space for cleaning.
- They work well for a variety of small animals.
- They come with a lower shelf and wheels, making them easy to move.
- They have amazing re-sale! If you ever change your mind about the cage, they are likely to sell for close to what you bought them for, depending on the condition they are in.
- They can be taken apart and reassembled fairly quickly (as long as you have a rubber mallet handy!)
Here are a few problems that exist when using a standard Critter Nation cage for a small bunny, like a Holland Lop.
- The cages are limited in horizontal space.
- The openings are too small for most bunnies.
- The ramps are unsafe.
- The trays are difficult to clean and have short sides.
- They are expensive, retailing at about $250 for each double cage.
With a long list of pros, I wanted to see if I could apply a bit of creativity to address the cons of the Critter Nation cages in order to make them work for my Holland Lop bunnies. Here’s how I addressed each of the cons listed above.
Increasing the Horizontal Space of the Critter Nation Cages
To me, increasing the horizontal square footage was the most important change I needed to make to the Critter Nation cages. I did this through two different ways. The first way was by adding pens to the bottom cages and increasing the space. This more than doubled the square footage of the cage. The pens were 4ft. by 3ft., plus the cage, which is 2ft. by 3ft., which made the whole enclosure 6ft. by 3ft., more than adequate space for one bunny. The pens I attached I made using wire storage cubes (also called NIC cubes and C & C cubes), attached with zip ties or cable ties. You can get an idea of what these spaces look like in the photo below.
The second way I accomplished this was through combining two cages horizontally, by removing the side walls and zip tying the cages together. This doubled the square footage of the cage, with each cage being 3ft. by 2ft., the combined cage became 6ft. by 2ft. Again, this is more than enough space for a bunny that is also getting time outside of the cage.
Additionally, in each cage there is room for a second level, which adds a couple more feet of square footage, and space for the bunnies to explore. The square footage these cages provide once you make the modifications, is generally more than other products on the market, which is why I love these cages. If you have a pair of bunnies living together, you could also have a double cage connected, or even a triple cage, which would be 9ft. by 2ft. We currently have two triple cages (three levels high) side by side. If we did not want to attach the pens to the bottom two, we could also create three horizontal double cages that would each be 6ft. by 2ft. Some people find the 3ft. by 2ft. design to be sufficient for their bunny, with plenty of daily time outside of the cage. Personally, since I have the space to do so, I want to give my bunnies lots of room to move around and get exercise.
Covering the Openings of the Critter Nation Cages
If you purchase a double critter nation cage. It comes with the first and second level intended to be all one cage, through the use of ramps and an opening from the first floor to the second floor. These openings are quite small, and one of my buns is too large to even fit through it well. Instead of using the cages in that way, I covered the openings and created cages that were larger horizontally, as I talk about in the previous section. If you have a small bunny that enjoys a lot of vertical space, this cage might actually work well as is, although the point below is something you should also consider.
Getting Rid of the Critter Nation Ramps
For bunnies, the ramps provided with the Critter Nation cages are not all that functional. First of all, many rabbits find these ramps too steep. More importantly, the gaps in the bars are not adequately safe for rabbits to use. In addition, they are very narrow, making it difficult for a broad rabbit like a Holland Lop to easily use them. I’ve noticed that my bunnies prefer to jump from one level to the next instead of using any kind of ramp. You can also create your own ramp. I’ve done this in the past using plywood and industrial carpeting, and my rabbits loved it (see photos below).
Replacing the Flooring of the Critter Nation Cages and Adding Side Guards
This last modification, has made a big difference in keeping the cages clean, and removing extra effort. In the photos above, you can see the original trays were used. In my experience, these trays were hard to keep clean. The biggest problem; however, was the short sides. Here’s how I modified the trays and sides:
- Replaced the floor by using 3′ by 2′ chalkboard/whiteboards from Lowes. I had to cut about an inch off on both the length of the board and the width of the board. You will want to measure and draw it out before cutting.
- Added stick-on laminate floors to the boards.
- Cut wooden trim pieces to size to act as poop guards. *These don’t work well as urine guards as they are not attached to the boards. If you are looking for something that captures anything and everything, you are going to want to order a custom tray for these cages with high sides.
At first I had attempted to use Coroplast sheets for the new flooring and for the side guards. I found these were not as sturdy as I would like for flooring, and they were difficult to use as guards as well. Ultimately, I really like the look of the wood trim as well, and it is safe for rabbits to chew. I’m very happy with the final outcome, and I much prefer this new design to the original trays that come with the Critter Nation cages.
Navigating the High Cost
Even though the cages retail at about $250 new, I have yet to pay nearly that much for a cage, but I did spend a lot of time hunting down good deals. First, I bought a brand new cage for $150, using the app LetGo. This in my mind was a major steal! However, a few weeks later I found a resale company selling them for just $100! I bought one, and then a couple more weeks went by and I decided to buy one more. So at this point I had spend $350 for a total of three cages, which would normally have cost me about $750. Once I opened the box for the third cage I noticed a piece was bent, so I contacted the resale company and they told me to come pick up a replacement piece. Once at the store, we struggled to open the box and find the piece, and a clerk came over to us and just told us to take the whole thing, and at no cost. So now I have four double cages, for a total of $350, instead of spending $1,000 through a traditional retailer. Currently I’m only using two of them, but I figure it’s good to have the extra capacity for future baby bunnies and for possibly fostering bunnies.
I don’t share this story with you to brag, but instead to encourage you to find good deals if you are looking for these cages. Also keep in mind that if you find a used cage with pans that are in really poor shape, you can always replace them yourself, using my DIY method, and save a lot of money. Check Craigslist, Facebook Marketplace, and Letgo for good deals. I used all three of these sources in finding my cages.
Here is a little look at the evolution of the bunny condos, where I first started, and where I am at now:
Critter Nation cages are not necessarily the best option for your bunny, especially if you have a medium or large breed bunny. if you are currently considering all options, I also encourage you to read my page on bunny care, which talks about a few different options for rabbit housing.
That’s all for now friends.
All my best,
Have you ever used the Critter Nation cages for bunnies? What kinds of modifications did you make? Comment below and let me know!