Whether you have a house rabbit or keep your rabbit in a rabbit hutch outside, the rabbit needs a place it considers to be its home, a safe place to which the rabbit can retreat to.
Creating the correct environment for a rabbit will take some thought and consideration.
Rabbits are active animals, especially early morning or of an evening and you need to ensure they will be able to hop about, jump, make little dashes or sprints and be able to stand upright on their hind legs.
Rabbits naturally hop around and graze. Without this, the consequences can be ill or poor health.
Ideally you should provide both a large enough living area and a secure shelter such as a rabbit hutch, cage, shed, where the rabbit can feel safe if threatened by predators and keep away from bad weather conditions and draughts.
Above are just 3 good examples of Hutches with runs that allow plenty of space for your rabbit. Click on the links to read more
Beyond this you need to decide what type of rabbit run you are going to need for the rabbits exercise.
To start out with, the size of the hutch or cage must be a main consideration. It is also advisable to give some thought to what the hutch should be made of, and what are the best materials.
As an example, a rabbit hutch made of plywood will not last as long, outdoors, as one made of, say, tongue & groove.
It is inadvisable to buy a 'starter home', if you have a baby or young rabbit. The rabbit will outgrow such initial housing and end up living in cramped conditions.
Is the home indoors or outdoors? For each you need to consider different issues.
Traditionally, the most common type of rabbit home is the hutch.
These start with the most basic, which are small and made of plywood, or similar and now range to hutches of all shapes and sizes with different designs including two tier or multiple levels, adjoining runs etc and also made in different materials.
Alternatively, you may prefer to make one of your own. The RSPCA (UK) recommends that the actual rabbit housing comprises of a living enclosure containing a main shelter, with additional hiding places and enrichment and as an absolute minimum, in the enclosure and shelter, they should;
1. Be able to stand on their hind legs without ears touching the roof.
2. Lie fully outstretched in any direction.
3. Take an unhindered sequence of consecutive hops.
4. Turn around unimpeded.
These are, of course, only recommendations but nevertheless ones that you should seriously try and adhere to as a basic minimum.
The ASPCA (US) recommend similar advice with the hutch size for a small to medium rabbit being 4'L x2'D x2'H, with the hutch/cage to have a solid bottomed floor.
These sizes and recommendations are the basic minimum required for a small rabbit. Larger rabbits need larger hutches.
Some people utilise their sheds into a rabbit living area.
For indoors, there are rabbit cages, whilst some people use dog's crates as an alternative.
The living area is important since the rabbit will spend a lot of time there. Incorrect accommodation can cause the rabbit to develop health problems, as will a lack of exercise.
In the wrong environment without proper stimulation your rabbit's behaviour can also change and the rabbit may become aggressive.
Since Rabbits are a prey animal they must be able to have a place where they can hide when frightened.
If the rabbit is to kept outdoors, you need to consider that they must have an enclosed box as a bed area for the rabbit to go to when frightened and of course to avoid the bad weather elements.
The rabbit hutch or living area must be as large as you can afford or allow for in the area in which it is to be placed.
It also needs to be in a secure place protected from the sight and smell of predators, predators which include foxes, cats, dogs, birds of prey such as the sparrow Hawk, ferrets and, I guess the one you can do less about, humans.
If the rabbits Living environment is damp, draughty, even hot, poorly ventilated or dirty then the rabbit will suffer.
In addition, rabbits are intelligent creatures and long periods of boredom will have a similar effect.
They are inquisitive and you need to make sure the roaming area does not have any hazards where they can injure themselves.
Good housing isn’t just about space to run around; it also gives you the space to add toys and activities to provide your rabbit with mental stimulation.
As well as the rabbit hutch you will need a rabbit run. A run can be attached to the hutch or you could allow letting the rabbit roam around indoors, in a particular area.
A rabbit hutch which has pieces of wood or metal that twist as door securers are unsafe outdoors. Scratching at the door by a fox or another predator can easily open the door. These should be replaced with a bolt or bolt/padlock. This will also help where small children are involved.
The mesh at the front of the hutch should be thick, small holed, mesh rather than chicken wire and the hutch should be raised off of the ground to avoid damp.
If there are no legs, you can make some or put the hutch on something stable, to raise it from the ground.
With a house rabbit, you can give them total freedom of a room or rooms or even the house but the rabbit will still need their own living accommodation when they want to retreat to a quiet area.
Rabbits living indoors usually have a cage but some do use a hutch or similar. Cages are now designed for the purpose of a house rabbit and have become more common in recent years.
The problem with some of them is that they can be fairly small, so you can always consider a dog crate.
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