The golden rule is that your bunnies’ accommodation can never be too big!
Rabbits love to run loose in the garden – many of you will have seen the sheer pleasure your bunny gets from running full pelt down the garden, twisting and jumping and kicking their back legs in the air. However this access should be supervised as rabbits are at risk from many predators, most obviously from foxes and other known predators but also from neighbourhood cats.
Rabbit Hutch Size
For one or two compatible rabbits each <4.5lb (<2kg) in body weight, new accommodation must be at least 3 x 1 x 1m (L x W x H), which comprises of an exercise area and a sleeping area. The sleeping area must be 1 x 1m (L x W) and at least 0.75m high (or 1.25m if open above). The rabbits must have permanent access to all areas of the accommodation.
Rabbits need an uninterrupted length of 3m to allow them to run and exercise freely. This can be incorporated with the sleeping area, as long as it is on the same level, as shown in the diagram below. Please note this design is not compulsory, variations should be considered when designing new rabbit accommodation.
Safe Rabbit Accommodation
Safe and secure accommodation must be provided. One advantage of this type of accommodation is that you can sit in with your buns and enjoy their company (and carry out essential cleaning) without braving the elements! It also allows your buns to come to you and form a friendship with you on their own terms. Picture of a converted shed
Not only does providing larger accommodation keep your bun active and entertained and therefore happier and healthier, but I cannot emphasise enough how much more pleasure you can get from your buns by allowing them to express their natural behaviour and curiosity.
Daily Rabbit Exercise
Where it is not possible to provide daily exercise in the garden, a large exercise run should also be attached to the hutch. Again the exercise run should be a minimum of 2 foot 6 inches tall and be as large as possible to allow your bunny freedom to move around. We would recommend this in any event as rabbits are most active at dusk and dawn when most of us are tucked up in bed! This run should be placed on concrete to prevent your bunny digging out or predators digging in.
If access to the garden is not possible, you might also consider providing a larger separate exercise run which can be placed on the grass. This run should be large enough to allow your rabbit to run rather than just amble from one end to the other. Alternatively if your run is designed for the hutch to stand in side, that run can simply be lifted off and moved to a grassy area on days where your bunnies activities can be supervised!
Sadly many standard hutches and runs sold by pet shops do not meet these requirements. This is particularly true of the two-tier hutch and run combinations. These may look fabulous but unless your bun is very small, it will not be able to stand up on its hind legs on either level. Picture of inside a converted shed
DIY Rabbit Hutch
Often the best solution is to design and build your own accommodation. This way it can also blend in with, or become a feature of your own garden. Possibilities include summerhouses, play houses and my own personal favourite, converting a garden shed into a bunny home. With a bit of imagination, you can add shelves and ramps to provide your buns with space, exercise and stimulation. An aviary or run can then be built on the side of the shed (bearing in mind the minimum height recommendation). The run can then be accessed by either a sliding wooden door or a cat flap.
Pictured on this page is a standard 6’ x 4’ garden shed. The door has been turned into a stable door and a wire frame inserted to allow ventilation, particularly in the summer months, whilst still maintaining security. Access is then provided to a run which is filled with toys for stimulation. These pictures are of the accommodation that two of our former foster buns, Bonnie and Clyde, are fortunate enough to enjoy with their new family. Inside the shed some shelves and ramps have been added, and a large wooden box filled with hay provides a safe and secure hiding place … not to mention the essential litter trays filled with hay which make cleaning out so much easier!
If you need purpose built rabbit accommodation, we are happy to recommend Les Higham who can be contacted on 07973 737310.
More people are moving their rabbits into the home to improve their relationship whilst potentially also increasing the rabbits’ health and mental wellbeing.
Many rabbit owners have realised they can develop a more rewarding and deeper relationship with their pet rabbit kept indoors. We tend to spend more time with our pets if they are in the warmth of our homes than if we keep them outdoors.
Each rabbit is an individual and so the decision of whether to keep a particular rabbit in the home must be made based on the animal's temperament, previous lifestyle and experience, and whether the owner feels able to meet the rabbit's needs within the home - i.e. the owner must decide whether it is in the best interests of the individual rabbit(s) concerned.
There is the need to protect indoor rabbits from hazards in the home, and this may require some additional thought and planning before acquiring rabbits or bringing them into the home. The RSPCA is not against rabbits being kept in the home, provided this is right for the individual rabbit(s) concerned and that their individual needs are met, and the rabbit is healthy and happy.
Rabbits will need a large, safe enclosure in a quiet part of your home. This enclosure must include a main shelter and a large, secure exercise area, with additional hiding places.
This could be a large, adapted dog pen/crate, a large hutch & run complex or a rabbit-proofed room (with at least one shelter to act as a sleeping/resting area). This provides the rabbit with a safe, familiar place to rest. If the rabbits are to be kept in this enclosure when you are not around to supervise them, it must be large enough & interesting enough for the rabbit to be able to behave normally, exercise and play.
The floor of the rabbits' enclosure (and ideally all areas the rabbits have access to) should be non-slip – please note that shiny/polished laminated flooring and tiles can be slippery and therefore stressful for rabbits, so should be covered/avoided in areas the rabbits have access to, where possible. When the rabbits first move into the home, we suggest that they are left within their enclosure for at least 48 hours to allow them time to acclimatise to the sounds and smells of the new environment, whilst feeling safe. This will also help rabbits get used to where their litter trays are located (if provided) and assist in litter training.