The rabbit hutches and runs sold in pet shops are often woefully inadequate for adult rabbits. This is especially true when people buy pet shop hutches along with a baby rabbit when they have no idea of it’s adult size. A rabbit should be able to stand on its hind legs and stretch out full length in the bed section of the hutch as a bare minimum requirement. The average rabbit hutch is nowhere near big enough to afford most rabbits the space they need for exercise. Rabbits also need to be able to exercise safely either indoors or in an outside run every day.
The minimum dimensions for a hutch housing a single rabbit are the equivalent of an adult human living in a studio flat 2m x 2m x 6m including the bathroom and kitchen space, without a TV, radio, computer, books or phone. If you would find that too lonely, too claustrophobic and too depressing, it is easy to see why a rabbit might need some toys and a bit of outsize space in which to get some exercise!
Rabbits like the company of their own kind so in practice you would need an even larger hutch to accommodate the pair of them plus an exercise area 3-4 times the floor space of the hutch. Given the cost of a hutch large enough for a pair of medium size rabbits it is often cheaper to buy and adapt a garden shed. Dog kennels and aviaries can also be adapted for rabbits.
Ideal rabbit housing
The best accommodation is the kind that offers spacious indoor shelter with access to an outside run. Rabbits dig and so do foxes in pursuit of them so grass runs need to be extremely secure if left unattended. A permanent run, such as that attached to a shed, should either have strong mesh sides buried 500cm into the earth or have been constructed on a concrete base which is both rabbit and fox proof. For moveable runs, a heavy duty mesh base through which the grass is accessible is recommended.
Poultry arks also make good runs for small rabbits but should be at least 6ft long and preferably supervised or fitted with a heavy duty wide mesh base to makes them 100% fox proof.
Foxes are adept at swivelling open the flimsy toggle catches on pet shop hutches. They are also able to rip open puny chicken mesh panels. For outdoor hutches padlocks are recommended. An outdoor rabbit hutch also needs to be protected from extremes of temperature, from damp and draughts, and in the summer from the fleas and mosquitoes which spread infectious diseases to rabbits. Pet rabbits should be protected from contact with wild rabbits to prevent infection and this includes the situation where wild rabbits might have contaminated the grass area where you might place a portable run for your pet rabbit.
Never keep your rabbit in a garage where vehicles are stored. The fumes from motor vehicles are toxic to rabbits.
Indoor house bunnies need a secure place to retire to and where you can leave them securely when you’re not there to supervise them. Rabbits make great house pets but there are considerations. Wires and cables need to be made ‘chew proof’. You should not use chemicals like Febreeze or Shake and Vac because these can cause skin problems in rabbits. House plants are a far too attractive to rabbits and many are poisonous.
Considering they are prey species, they can be extremely tardy removing themselves from the pathway of an opening door and their tendency to dance around your ankles in a bid for attention demand a level of awareness to prevent injury to either party.
Rabbits are pretty easy to house train to a litter tray, especially if there is a hay rack within easy reach of it. They benefit from toys to alleviate boredom even when there is lots of space for them to exercise in.