Rabbits are fairly small animals, but they are a creature that requires a lot of space to perform their natural behaviours and are very active. When selecting a hutch or living space for your rabbit you need to ensure it has plenty of room for your rabbit to perform their natural behaviours. It is recommended that the area they should be provided is at least 3m x 2m x 1m.
House rabbits should have a secure cage area where they can be restrained when the owner isn’t present to make sure they are safe – this could be a wire or plastic cage. Exercise around the house should be encouraged whenever they can be supervised. Rabbits will readily learn to use cat flaps to gain indoor/outdoor access and further expand their exercise areas. They are clever animals and can be easily trained to use a litter tray by repeatedly placing them in it – it may be necessary initially to place some droppings in it to encourage your rabbit to use it correctly.
You will need to consider if your house is rabbit proof before allowing access – for example, ensuring electrical cables are protected from chewing, and any potentially poisonous house plants are kept out of reach.
Rabbits like chewing and this is a natural behaviour for them, so chewable toys are much enjoyed. This could include cardboard boxes, commercial cat or bird toys and even towels which they like to burrow into.
It is important that your rabbit has adequate ventilation if housed indoors as poor ventilation could cause respiratory infections.
Rabbits are generally tough animals and can be outdoor all year round. They will need to have adequate shelter from extremes of weather throughout the year (from rain, strong draughts, snow and also extreme heat). The location of the hutch should be carefully considered to avoid direct sunlight to help minimise any risk of heat stress. The hutch should be raised off the ground to keep them higher up from predators. A waterproof roof and panel to cover the mesh-fronted area in bad weather is also recommended.
The hutch should consist of a solid fronted nesting area and a mesh fronted living area. The mesh will help provide good ventilation, lowering the risk of respiratory disease.
Rabbits should be given the space for daily exercise and to graze. The hutch should be placed within an enclosure, or an ark or run should be attached so the rabbit can always have access.
Rabbits will burrow so precautions should be taken to prevent escape. They are also very good at jumping, and covering the run with a mesh top will also help prevent any escapes, as well as providing protection from predators. Contact with wild rabbits should be prevented to avoid diseases spreading from the wild population, and fly and mosquito control should be considered in the summer months.