Creating the ideal home for your rabbits
How your rabbits live can have a huge impact on them. Your rabbits need lots of space and toys to keep them happy and active in their home.
Sometimes it can be hard to know the best type of home for your rabbits and what they need inside it to keep them happy. Don’t forget, you should keep rabbits in neutered pairs or groups as it's essential they have the company of other rabbits to keep happy. Our vets have put together their tips to help you housing your bunnies.
How big should my rabbits' home be?
Whether they're indoors or outdoors, the more space you can give your rabbits, the better! Your rabbits' homes should provide more than enough space for them to lie down, stretch out, stand on their back legs without their ears touching the top and long enough for them have a little sprint.
The minimum space two rabbits need is 3 m x 2 m x 1 m (10 ft x 6 ft x 3ft). Remember - rabbits should always be kept in pairs or more so any rabbit set up needs as least this much space.
Whether you have an indoor or outdoor enclosure, all rabbits should have an area where they can rest and sleep as well as space where they can hop, dig, play, eat and just be rabbits! You’ll also need to think about providing them with plenty of entertainment such as tubes, hides, tunnels, cardboard boxes, hay racks and even bunny safe plants .
The basic rules for housing rabbits
If you keep your rabbits outside, their hutch or enclosure should be:
- Safe. You’ll need to make sure they are well protected with sturdy walls, mesh or fencing against threats like cats and foxes or other wild animals – including other rabbits who can potentially pass on deadly diseases. By making sure they have a safe, secure home, with dig-proof barriers, you’ll also be stopping escape attempts. You should keep them clean and protect their cage against flies by using fly screens or mesh where possible.
- Weatherproof. Raising their shelter (hutch or shed) off the ground will help prevent it getting waterlogged. It needs to be sturdy and free from any leaks. Another important thing to think about is how you’ll meet your rabbit’s needs as the weather and seasons change. Make sure your rabbits are sheltered from the rain and wind at all times. They won’t want get too hot in summer so they need to have shade available, especially in the heat of the day, for example by putting their hutch under a tree or using a parasol. We have more tips to keep your rabbits cool in summer if you’d like more ideas. You also need to think about protecting them from the snow and the cold in the winter months, you could consider moving their hutch into a shed or using an insulated cover.
- Clean and organised. Their home should be lined with newspaper or clean wood shavings with plenty of bedding hay on top. It needs to be cleaned out regularly. Your rabbits’ sleeping, food and toilet areas should all be separate in their home.
- Spacious. Rabbits need space to roam around and have fun. Think of their hutch as their bedroom and their run as the “rest” of their house. A large run or other space for them to live in should be attached to their hutch or enclosure so they can hop about whenever they like. The total area available to them should be a minimum of 10 x 6 x 3 ft (3 x 2 x 1 m), made up of a hutch at least 6ft x 2ft (2m x 1m) and an attached run or enclosure. The height of their enclosure and sheltered area is very important as rabbits need to be able to jump and stand up on their back legs with room to spare.
- Fun. Remember to put lots of toys in their home to keep your bunnies occupied - rabbits need plenty of toys to keep them happy! Even though they have each other for company they can still get bored. They love toys they can hide in and you could also try creating an area where your rabbit can satisfy their urge to dig in a safe way, for instance using a shallow tray or box filled with soil.
The perfect indoor rabbit enclosure should be:
- Safe. You’ll need to make sure that anything in your house that could be harmful is kept out the way of curious bunnies. They love to chew so you need to rabbit-proof your home. This includes moving things like wires and cables, house plants, cleaning products and small ornaments out of bunny-reach. Beware of your rabbits’ curiosity! Keep doors to the outside shut to stop escapes. Only let your rabbit outside if they are safely enclosed, for example in a secure, safe run under close supervision.
- Spacious. Your rabbits’ indoor enclosure should have lots of space for them to roam around. They’ll still need access to the outdoors, but make sure they can get exercise inside too. While it’s fine for you to keep their home base to just one room or area of the house the minimum area of that space still needs to be at least 10 x 6 x 3 ft (3 x 2 x 1 m).
- All-inclusive. Make sure your bunnies have access to everything they need at all times, including hay, water and a litter tray. If they can’t get back to these, it could make them really anxious. These areas should also all be separate from each other.
- Fun. Like any rabbits, you’ll need to give your indoor bunnies lots of toys. Rabbits are easily bored and very curious. Providing them with toys will keep their brains active and reduce the likelihood that they will chew your furniture (though a bit of this is inevitable). Rabbits also need to do plenty of digging, so you’ll need to offer them somewhere to do this like a large litter tray filled with soil.
Outdoor rabbit runs
All rabbits should have access to the outdoors in a safe and secure run. Although we can’t give our rabbits the space they would have in the wild, it’s important that they have plenty of room in our gardens to hop around and play. Ideally their run should be attached to their home enclosure so they can choose when they want to enjoy the outdoors and run about. This can then be included in the total space your rabbits have.
If your set-up means that their run isn’t attached to the rest of their home, for example if they are indoor rabbits or in a shed, then you’ll need to make sure they still have enough space where they are living full time. Make sure they have the opportunity to dig and chew in their home set up. Ideally, try to take them out regularly to give them the chance to get some fresh air.
As a minimum, your rabbits’ outdoor run should give them enough room to get up to a sprint and stand up without touching their ears on the bars. This usually works out as at least around 3 x 6 x 8 ft (1 x 2 x 2.5 m). It should be safe from potential predators, out of direct sunlight and have a shady area for sunny weather (you can make this by covering part of the run with a tarpaulin or canvas).
You should also include safe shelters for your rabbit. In the wild, rabbits will hide in their burrows from threats such as predators or other things they may be scared of. Providing tubes, branches and boxes they can hop into can be a great way to help make sure they don’t feel scared, anxious or threatened.
Make sure you put lots of toys in their outside run as well as water and hay so they don’t get thirsty or hungry. Placing the run on a grassy area is perfect for rabbits, as this gives them a chance to eat some grass and have a dig. Make sure you take precautions to ensure they can’t dig their way out, for example putting paving slabs or a wire mesh round of the edge of the run to slow down any burrowing bunnies.
If your rabbits aren’t used to being outdoors, it’s important to monitor them closely when they start going outside as there can be lots of new sights, sounds and smells that might frighten your bunnies at first. It’s even more important to make sure they have lots of safe places to hide. It’s also a good idea to make sure their hideaway is warm, insulated and sheltered - many house rabbits aren’t used to cold temperatures, wind or rain.
Rabbits are clean animals so it’s important to give their home a clean and tidy daily, with a deep clean at least once a month. Keeping their home clean will also help them stay healthy by making sure any nasty bugs are kept away.
For the daily clean you will need to clean away any wet or dirty shavings or bedding, throw out uneaten greens or pellet food (and replace with fresh) and make sure you clean their food and water bowls with a pet-safe cleaner.
For your monthly deep clean, you’ll want to take everything out and scrub it with pet-safe cleaner. Make sure everything is completely dry before replacing all bedding and lining in your rabbits’ home.
A happy home
Remember, even if your rabbits’ home is plenty big enough they’ll still need toys to keep them occupied. There are lots of things you can do to exercise your rabbits and you can even make toys for them yourself at home.
Most importantly, your rabbits need each other. Rabbits are very social and in the wild will live in large family groups, so it’s important your bunnies have company or they’ll get lonely. We recommend keeping bunnies in neutered pairs (ideally one male and one female) so they have each other for play and company. Read our vets’ advice on company for your rabbits and how to introduce rabbits to one another.
Top tips on rabbit homes
- Remember, rabbits can never have too much space! The more space you give them to live in, the happier they will be.
- Make sure any outdoor runs are escape proof. Rabbits are expert diggers and escape artists.
- Give them lots of toys to keep them occupied and happy. Digging toys are great, as are things they can hide in and climb on.
- Rabbits like to “chew and poo” so putting an extra hay rack next to their litter tray or covering their litter with a layer of feeding hay can encourage them to use their tray
- Rabbits are most active at dawn and dusk, which is why it’s good to have their runs attached to their homes so they can take themselves outside for exercise and you don’t have to follow the same sleeping pattern.
Your rabbits' health
Learn all the basics about keeping an eye on your rabbits' health, including how to give them a quick health check and important things to look out for.
Got a lonely bunny? Rabbits need each other's company to keep them happy. Read our vets' advice on introducing two rabbits safely.