Sadly, many hutches are much too small for rabbits and don't give these pets the active life they should. Here's our vets' advice on making sure your rabbits have the room they need:
On their own, rabbits get very lonely and aren’t meant to be kept as individuals. In the wild, they’d live with their whole extended family. Your bunnies need the company of each other. We recommend keeping at least two (neutered!) rabbits together so they don’t get lonely. If you already have one rabbit and want to get it a friend, you can follow our steps to successfully introduce them to each other.
The right hutch
Your rabbits should have a safe and secure hutch. This will give them a place to shelter and sleep.
Sadly, a lot of rabbits live in hutches that are too small for them and this can lead them putting on weight and developing health problems.
A good rabbit hutch will be:
- A place to shelter, not their only living space. Your rabbit should also have access to the great outdoors in a secure run.
- As big as possible. As a minimum, it should be at least 2 feet high, 2 feet wide and 6 feet long. In rabbit measurements, that’s big enough for them to lie down and stretch out in all directions, tall enough so they can stand up on their back legs without their ears touching the top, and long enough to allow at least three full hops.
- Big enough for the food, toilet and sleeping areas to be kept apart.
- Weatherproof and raised off the ground.
- Lined with newspaper or clean woodshavings, with bedding hay on top. The sleeping area should be lined with clean, dry hay or straw.
Our top tips
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. Also, by making sure they have a safe, secure home, with dig-proof barriers, you’ll also be stopping escape attempts.
- Sheltered. You should position your rabbits’ hutch in a shady area so they don’t get too hot in summer. You should also make sure they are out of the wind and bad weather conditions.
- Weatherproof. Raising their hutch or shed off the ground can help prevent it getting waterlogged. It should also be sturdy and free from any leaks in the roof.
- Spacious. Rabbits need space to roam around and have fun. Ideally, their exercise run should be attached to their hutch or enclosure so they can hop about whenever they like. They need a minimum of 10 x 6 x 3 ft (3 x 2 x 1 m) total space.
- Fun. Remember to put lots of toys in their home to keep your bunnies occupied. Even though they have each other they can still get bored. Rabbits need plenty of toys to keep them happy.
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.
- 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 them to use one room or area as a home base, that they get shut in at certain times, 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.
- Secure. Beware of your rabbits’ curiosity! Keep doors to the outside shut to stop escapes. Only let your rabbit outside if they are restrained, for example in a secure, safe run or on a harness and lead under close supervision.
- 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 stop them chewing your furniture. 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.
An exercise run for happy rabbits
In the wild, rabbits have a home territory the size of 30 tennis courts! We might not be able to give our pet rabbits that much space to roam around in but they should have access to a large run. This will give them the space they need to stretch, hop, and play. We recommend placing their run on a large, grassy area to make sure they get enough exercise.
Your rabbit’s run should be:
- Escape-proof and safe from predators.
- Out of direct sunlight and strong winds. Make sure your rabbits have a shady area.
- Attached to their hutch so that the rabbits can exercise whenever they want.
- Tall enough that your rabbits can stretch up to their full height and spacious enough that they can run, rather than just hop. We recommend that your rabbits run should be 3 feet high, 6 feet wide and 8 feet long.
Keeping your rabbits clean
Everyone likes a nice, clean home and rabbits are no exception. Keep everything in tip top condition by giving it a quick tidy every day and a deep clean every month or two.
Give your rabbit’s hutch a quick tidy each day to:
- Clean away any wet or dirty shavings or bedding.
- Throw out any fruit or veg that hasn’t been eaten.
- Give food and water containers a good scrub before refilling them.
Clean the hutch more thoroughly once a week to keep it clean and hygienic. Remove and replace all bedding and hay.
You should give your rabbits’ hutch a deep clean every month or two:
- Strip everything out.
- Scrub it thoroughly inside and out with a pet-safe cleaner.
- Replace all their bedding and line the hutch with fresh hay or straw.
- Only let your rabbits back in when it is completely dry.