Rabbit environment

Rabbit environment

In this section we’ll look at:

  • Creating the ideal environment for your rabbits
  • Poisons and hazards around the home and garden
  • Research
Creating the ideal environment for your rabbits

Creating the ideal environment for your rabbits

What should my rabbit hutch be like? 

Sadly, many hutches are too small for rabbits. 

  • A hutch should be a shelter not a living space.
  • Make it at least H2 x W2 x L6ft. The bigger would be better. 
  • It should be big enough to allow 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. Long enough to allow at least three hops. (Remember that for an average-sized rabbit this covers 6-7 feet!)
  • Big enough to allow space for the food, toilet and sleeping areas to be kept apart.
  • It should also be weatherproof and raised off the ground.
  • Line the hutch with newspaper or clean woodshavings, then put soft hay or straw on top. 
  • Put clean, dry hay or straw down as bedding in the sleeping area

Do my rabbits need an exercise run as well as a hutch?

Yes. In the wild, rabbits have a home territory the size of 30 tennis courts! Give them as much space as you can. A large run on a grassy area helps ensure rabbits get enough exercise.

  • It must be both escape-proof and safe from predators.
  • It should be located out of direct sunlight and strong winds – and offer some shade. 
  • Ideally, their run should be attached to the hutch so that the rabbits can exercise whenever they want.
  • A run should be tall enough to allow rabbits to stretch up to full height and they should be able to run, rather than just hop. A suggested minimum size of run for most rabbits is H2 x W6 x L8ft.


What happens in winter?

If it’s very cold, move the hutch into an outhouse or car-free garage (free from cars as exhaust fumes can be fatal. 

What happens in summer?

In hot weather, move the hutch and run into a shaded area as rabbits can suffer from heatstroke.

How do I clean the hutch?

1. Clean the hutch at least once a day:

  • Remove any wet or dirty shavings or bedding.
  • Removing any uneaten fresh food.
  • Clean the food and water containers before refilling them. 

2. Clean the hutch more thoroughly once a week to keep it clean and hygienic.

3. Clean it out completely every month or two:

  • Strip it out completely.
  • Scrub it thoroughly inside and out.
  • Only allow your rabbits back in when it is completely dry.
Poisons and hazards around the home and garden

Poisons and hazards around the home and garden

Keep your rabbit safe: Make the hutch and run secure from both escapes and from predators – dogs, cats, foxes, rats, and birds of prey etc. Don’t let rabbits have access to electric cables inside or outdoors, as they will chew through them.

Poisonous plants for rabbits

There are many other poisonous plants not on this list. If in doubt, keep your rabbits away from your plants and flowerbeds, especially if they’ve been sprayed with herbicides or pesticides.
  • All plants that grow from bulbs 
  • Amaryllis
  • Bracken
  • Elder
  • Foxglove
  • Lily-of-the-valley
  • Laburnum
  • Most evergreens
  • Oak leaves
  • Privet
  • Ragwort
  • Rhubarb leaves
  • Yew
Research

Research

The PDSA Animal Wellbeing (PAW) Report

Since 2011 we’ve surveyed over 53,000 pet owners, veterinary professionals and children, giving us a huge insight into the wellbeing of pets in the UK.
Here are the findings for rabbits and their environment:

Overview

A spacious hutch and a large run area for daily exercise is key to providing a suitable and healthy environment for rabbits. It needs to be safe and secure from escape attempts and intruders. 

You can read our full PAW Report here.

Key findings from our most recent report:

Hopping mad – around 60,000 rabbits live in hutches that are too small.


  • 5% of rabbits –around 60,000 – live in hutches that are too small where they can only do up to two hops. • 13% of exercise runs are no bigger than the recommended size of a hutch – this doesn’t provide them with enough space to exercise properly
  • 6% of owners think a rabbit doesn’t need to go outside its hutch. This means 72,000 rabbits may be confined to a hutch with no regular access to space outside it. 21% of rabbits (252,000) live indoors.
Improve one thing today...Give your rabbits a large hutch with constant access to a large, long and secure run. The hutch and run need to be tall enough to let them stretch up fully on their hind legs without the top touching their ears.


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