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Rabbit accommodation

Rabbits need a generous outdoor space to run around in and cosy indoor quarters where they can rest and find shelter.

Providing them with this will allow them to express their natural patterns of behaviour and so lead happy, healthy lives.

Hutch/Shed and runs

Rabbits should be housed in a hutch or shed with a run permanently attached to it.

The hutch/shed provides shelter; the run provides space for the rabbits to express natural behaviour such as running, digging, jumping and exploring. The two areas should be connected by a tunnel or the run built onto the front of the hutch/shed. The run can be on grass or concrete, if grass it's advisable to dig mesh under the grass to help prevent escapes and predators getting in.

Rabbit accomodation

The minimum sizes we recommend for a small-medium pair of rabbits are:

Hutches

2m long by 0.6m deep by 0.75m high (6ft long by 2ft deep by 2½ft high)

All doors should have strong bolts on to keep safe from predators and remove swivel latches.

Wendy house/shed

4ft by 4ft

All doors should have strong bolts on to keep safe from predators, swivel latches should be removed.

Runs

3m long by 1.5m wide by 1m

.high (10ft. long by 5ft. wide by 3ft.high) with a secure lid

Chicken wire is not suitable for rabbit enclosures as predators can easily chew through.

All doors should have strong bolts on to keep safe from predators, swivel latches should be removed.

Fold away metal runs are not suitable as they are not as strong as a wood/mesh runs and therefore susceptible to predators or rabbits digging out.

For large breeds are minimum requirements are:

6ft by 4ft shed attached to a 15ft by 5ft by 4ft run

Free range rabbits

There are many predators that are a risk to your pet rabbits; therefore we only recommend allowing your rabbits to have supervised free range time in a secure garden. When unsupervised the rabbits should be housed in the secure accommodation as stated above.

Bedding materials

Hutches or sheds can be lined with newspaper, vinyl or carpet. Take care that edges of carpet or vinyl are not visible for the rabbits to chew. Vinyl must always have hay or carpet on top to prevent the rabbits from slipping over.

Next you will need hay – lots of it. You can buy large bales of hay at reasonable cost from farm shops and horse suppliers. Rabbits don’t just sleep on hay: it also accounts for about 80 per cent of their diet. Select hay that is light green or light brown in colour and make sure that it smells fresh. Be fussy: coarse, yellowing hay will provide no nutrition; it may also contain parasites.

Never use wood shavings or farm straw as bedding. Wood shavings can contain harmful parasites; they also produce dust, which can cause both you and your rabbits breathing problems. Straw is too coarse and has no nutritional value whatsoever – please don’t use it.

Rabbits can be easily litter trained, fill litter trays with fresh hay daily as they love to eat at the same time. By providing them with a toilet area, you can make it easier to clean the hutch or shed: simply empty out the trays, spray with pet disinfectant, wipe, and replenish the contents every day.

The whole accommodation should be cleaned out thoroughly once a week using a suitable pet disinfectant. 

Enrichment/environment

Once you have thought about the right accommodation you then need to consider enrichment for the run. Enrichment helps the rabbits to keep fit and happy. Children’s sand pits filled with soil or play sand, fruit tree or willow logs, children’s chairs, tunnels, plant pots, trays growing in trays and pots and card board boxes all make great additions. Find out more about enrichment for your rabbits here.

Advice and support

Each of our three small animal rehoming centres have examples of different accommodation ideas for you to look at within our forage gardens.

Our staff can also show you lots of examples of suitable hutch/shed and runs and provide you with details of suppliers. Alternatively, amateur carpenters could easily design and construct their own. 

If you are considering buying some accommodation or have some in place already please feel free to email our small animal team for advice prior to purchase or how to make amendments to avoid unsuitable accommodation being in place.

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