Last updated on October 31st, 2018 at 05:55 am
A complete rabbit housing should consist of a cage, hutch, condo or shed with all supplies that rabbits need, and an exercising run or playpen unless they reign freely in your houses where you still need to give them a quiet place they can hide or snuggle.
Let us look at the necessary housing requirements, size, and insight on indoor and outdoor rabbit housing including some essential amenities.
Domestic and commercial rabbit housing requirements
Irrespective of whether you settle for a housing unit for domestic or commercial rabbits, there are some minimum requirements that the type of housing you go for must meet.
A good house should:
- Protect and keep your rabbits from escaping
- Protect them from predators
- Protect them from bad weather condition
- Be comfortable and easily accessible by bunny owners
- Be easy to clean or a self-cleaning type
- Easy to maintain, durable and purchased at some reasonable prices
- Well ventilated with outdoor ones having a roof that is rain-proof, and allow some sunlight
- Be the recommended size.
- Have solid floors, with a substrate to reduce chances of sore hocks.
- Allow natural rabbit behaviors of digging, foraging, hiding, and nesting.
Rabbit house size and dimensions
If you want to make or buy a cage, hutch or shed for your bunnies, ensure it meets the minimum recommended cage sizes depending on your rabbit weight and behavior.
It should allow your furry friend to make a few hops, stretch in all directions and stand upright on its hide legs without its ears touching the roof, i.e., “large enough for animals to hop, jump and make quick changes of direction,” notes the nc3rs.org.uk.
If you provide a small cage or house, your rabbits might suffer from conditions such as osteoporosis, obesity, muscle wastages and heart problems since they have limited physical activities.
Also, a small housing may cause rabbit behavior problems such as being destructive (chewing almost everything), develop repetitive abnormal habits such as overgrooming or apathy where they may remain in one position for a long time without interacting with its environment.
Depending on their designs, those with a separate place to sleep, litter boxes, food and hay feeders and watering bowls place inside them needs to be much larger. We generally advise people to go for large ones if possible.
Finally, nursing rabbits should be put in a much larger cage, shed or hutch to accommodate their nesting box.
Indoor rabbit housing
If your bunnies stay indoors, it can be in a hutch or cage, or you provide them with a room, if available.
The cage or hutch can be inside one of your rooms or on your garage. Also, you can rabbit-proof your house if you want them to reign freely. This will ensure they do not damage your valuable or chew things that may affect their health.
If you opt for them, rabbit rooms should have easy to clean textured tiles or be carpeted if they know how to use their litter boxes well and they cannot chew the carpet. Replace your regular door with a transparent one to be able to peep at them.
If you prefer a cage or hutch, it should meet the minimum recommended size, have a solid floor and all amenities that your bunny will require. Multi-level or tiered cages will provide more space while having stacked rabbit cages will help save space.
There are many good indoor rabbit cages in the market you can buy or if you are a DIY expert, there are many DIY cage plans you can use. These cages can be made of wood, wire, pallets, metal bars and so on.
Besides the traditional cage, you can use an x-pen, dog’s crate or a puppy pen if it meets required size. Ensure you provide all the necessary amenities.
Do not confine your furry friends to their housing units even if they meet the required sizes. They need to exercise. Ensure they have good indoor or outdoor rabbit runs.
On the time to let them go play, early in the morning or late in the evening will be ideal since they are crepuscular animals.
Outdoor rabbit housing
The hutch or shed must be able to protect your furry friends from extreme weather conditions such as winter or summer temperatures. Having insulated hutches, using rabbit hutch covers or heating these rabbit housing are some of the ways to ensure your bunnies are protected from these extreme conditions.
Also, they must be sturdy and predator proof to ensure foxes, dogs, cats, weasels, badgers, stoats, and ferrets cannot access your bunnies. Going for a raised housing will enhance security and if on the ground, it should be solid strong base or have a wire mesh.
Like indoor ones, they could be stacked, with tiers, or be hanging (suspended). They should have an area with a roof, solid flooring, and a hiding place.
Getting hutches with runs is common. These are ideal if you do not have enough time to take your bunnies to the secured area to play. However, do not forget that your rabbits need time to bond with you.
Some of the downs of outdoor housing that many animal welfare associations cite include the following:
- Unlike wild hares, domestic bunnies might not be able to stand extreme temperatures, especially during hot summers.
- Despite being predator proof, the outdoor enclosures still present the predator risk. As humanesociety.org notes, with only the “sight or smell of a predator can cause rabbits so much stress that they can suffer a heart attack and die of ”
Rabbit housing amenities
Whether you opt for an indoor or outdoor bunny housing, some amenities must be availed. Some of these amenities will include:
A place to hide or sleep
A safe cardboard box with a cut hole or one made from plastic will be an idea for your furry friend to have his privacy, be alone or snuggle. This is necessary even for those that freely reign in your house.
If you have hutches designed in a way that they have a completely enclosed area with an opening, they will also work well as a place to sleep or hide.
If you intend to breed your does, they need a nesting box. An ideal nesting box should be the right size, easy to clean and safe. Ensure your rabbit nesting box has correct dimensions whether homemade or you bought it.
Litter boxes or trays
Litter training your rabbits and providing them with littering trays with good litter will make cleaning the hutch easy as well as reduce the ammonia urine smell, especially if your litter is odor controlling. Avoid using cat litter on your bunnies if it is dusty, clumpy or toxic if ingested.
Feeders and hay racks
There are many good brands of rabbit feeders including hay racks you can buy or make. When purchasing them, you should ensure they keep food clean, fresh and can be mounted easily. You even have a chance to choose automatic feeders if you are a busy person.
Clean, cold water is essential to all bunnies and must be provided in unlimited amounts. You have an option of setting for rabbit water bottles or bowls or developing an automated waterer. During winter when water is likely to freeze, consider heated waterers to it from freezing.
Bedding or substrate
If you have a wire cage, your bunnies are not litter trained. You should consider having some bedding on your cage or hutch floor. There are many rabbit bedding alternatives which are safe and will ensure your bunnies have quality time.
Nc3rs.org.uk states that you go for “solid floors, with the substrate (2 to 5cm in depth) for hygiene, comfort and to permit foraging and digging behavior”.
Whereas some people ignore toys, they are an integral part of your bunnies’ play time, and a means to reduce boredom. Make a few toys at home or buy some from your local pet shop. Some cat toys may also be used. Gnaw toys and chewing sticks should also be provided.
Unless your rabbits reign freely in your house or they have a room, it is necessary to ensure you provide a large rabbit run for exercise. You can settle for housing that is connected to the run or be taking your bunnies to their playpens.
Other important considerations
Whenever possible, put your bunnies in social groups separating males and females if they are not natured (for bucks) or spayed (for does).
People in commercial rabbit production need to ensure their housing systems are easy to expand, clean and maintain. They should meet all the requirements we have discussed as well as have all the necessary amenities.