The University of Missouri has his-
torically housed adult female rabbits in
single housed, stainless steel, banked
cages, with six square feet of floor space
each. They are fed standard laboratory
rabbit diet and watered ad libitum from
suspended water bottles. Enrichment is
provided via food enrichment (alfalfa
cubes or loose timothy hay), manipulat-
able toys and mirrors, and socialized by
the care staff on a daily basis. How-
ever, this enrichment fails to address
the social nature of rabbits with others
of their species, nor does the housing
strategy meet the social housing require-
ment set forth by the Guide.
To provide housing that is
more conducive to the social
instincts of the animal and to
comply with Guide require-
ments, a design was needed
to provide a cost-effective
way for them to share space
and have the close contact of
another animal. While there
are many models of caging
on the market that are de-
signed for housing multiple
animals, new caging was just
not in the budget. A large
supply of the banked cages
was already on hand at the
University and management
set about brainstorming
methods of modifying them
to socially house rabbits.
This tunnel system proved
to be the most cost-effective
All materials for this project
were purchased at a local
home improvement store.
The pattern template was
designed by the campus
Physics machine shop and
consisted of corresponding
six inch diameter holes that
were plasma cut through the interior
sides of side-by-side cages on each level.
To modify one rack of 6 side-by-side
cages, we purchased:
• 6” S40 PVC DMW Cellcore Pipe.
• 6” PVC Female Adaptors.
• 6” Cleanout Plugs.
• PVC Cement.
1. To construct the tunnel, a template
was first designed to serve as a pattern for the 6” diameter hole that was
plasma-cut through the interior sides
of the adjacent cages. These must line
up perfectly as this will be where the
tunnel will be inserted.
2. Cut an 8” length of Cellcore pipe to
serve as the body of the tunnel that
bridges the gap between the cages. Cut
a 1.5” slice off the non-threaded end of
3. Insert one end of the pipe into the
female adaptor until it butts up to the
inside lip of the adapter threads (Fig-
ure 1) and secure with PVC cement.
4. Slide pipe body through the mirroring
holes in the cages, ensuring that the
cut edge on the adapter serves as a
collar and is flush with the stainless
cage wall of cage one (Figure 2).
5. Slide the 1.5” slice of adaptor over the
protruding pipe, flush with the side of
cage two. This will serve as a collar on
this side to hold the tunnel securely
(Figure 3). Secure with PVC cement.
6. Sand any rough edges of the PVC to
ensure animal safety. This should be
minimal since all cut edges should be
against the sides of the cages.
The animals can be acclimated to one
another by removing the cap for short
ENRICHMENT | Dana Weir, BS, CMAR, LATG
From swinging single to peacefully
Managing rabbit socialization without breaking your budget
Figure 1: Red arrow indicates inside lip of adapter threads.
Figure 2: Blue arrow indicates cut edge of adapter serving
as a collar to keep tunnel secure.