When the desire for a pet arises, the rabbit quickly comes into focus: a tiny animal that is considered undemanding and easy to care for – ideal, therefore, as the first pet for children.
However, these assumptions are wrong: In fact, keeping rabbits requires a lot of time and extensive knowledge to come close to meeting the animals’ needs.
Shortcut To Useful Tips
- 1 The most important things about keeping rabbits in a species appropriate way
- 2 The Best Home for your Rabbit
- 3 Important: Combine the Rabbit Hutch with Free Run
- 4 The fencing of the free run
- 5 Caution, rabbits have a pronounced digging instinct.
- 6 Conclusion
The most important things about keeping rabbits in a species appropriate way
Rabbits are not cuddly animals! The joy of pet rabbits should be in watching these fascinating animals, so they are unsuitable for children under ten.
From an animal welfare perspective, rabbits should be kept with at least one other in an outdoor enclosure that most closely resembles the animals’ natural habitat.
- Life expectancy: seven to ten years.
- Acquisition: give rabbits from the shelter or a rescue center a new, beautiful home. Do not buy rabbits from the pet store. You support the bad breeding and keeping conditions of the animals!
- Keeping: At least one conspecific and natural enclosure of at least ten square meters is indispensable. Only then can rabbits live out their natural behaviors.
- Reproduction: Depending on the breed, rabbits reach sexual maturity between the fourth and sixth months. In large breeds, somewhat later. Those who do not want offspring should have their animals neutered before sexual maturity.
- Time: Caring for the animals takes at least an hour each day.
- Allergies: The animals’ fur, required hay, and bedding can cause allergies in people.
- Vacation: Make sure the animals are well housed and cared for during your vacation time before acquiring them!
- Cost: In addition to the initial cost of the animals, the enclosure and equipment, and quality food and bedding, there are annual veterinary fees for vaccinations. Rabbits often suffer from malocclusions!
- Food: Please do not feed grain food. The basic food is fresh hay. Green fodder, vegetables, fruit, and twigs from fruit trees provide variety.
The Best Home for your Rabbit
If you want to set up a lovely outdoor hutch for your rabbits, you should consider some things because there are quite significant differences between the different models. First, a good cage or hutch is indispensable for a species-appropriate attitude toward your rabbits.
What you should look for in a species-appropriate home so that your animals can lead a happy life with you, we have summarized for you below.
The species-appropriate rabbit hutch
The cages available in the trade are usually not only too small for the needs of your favorite, but also often only meet some of the habitat requirements of a former wild animal.
A rabbit not only wants to eat and sleep, but it is also important for its health that it can run, jump, hook and occasionally dig a burrow. If you have a garden where your rabbit regularly has a large run, the cage can be smaller.
But if it is kept on the balcony or in the apartment, then the rabbit hutch must meet all the requirements for a healthy attitude. This includes, above all, exercise.
The skeletal structure is very important if you want your rabbit to stay healthy for a long time. Since the spine of your rabbit needs muscle support, it needs many opportunities for movement in the cage, so all muscle parts are well-trained.
The right-size of the rabbit hutch
Rabbits should never be kept alone, but at least as a pair. For example, if you keep two rabbits in the hutch, you should plan at least 4 m² of space for them. However, this only applies if you give the animals enough run. If this is not possible, please plan at least 6 m² for the cage; the more, the better.
In addition, the hutch must offer enough space for activities and recreation as well as food & Co. Rabbits also need retreats and hiding places. They should always be able to retreat into a little house or a separate room.
In addition to the pure area, height is also significant. The animals like to jump and also like to sit on platforms on different levels of the cage. Therefore, there should be enough space upwards as well. Ideally, the cage has several stay levels. It is okay if individual areas can only be reached by jumping. There can be ramps leading to each platform.
Before you buy just any hutch, you can refer to test and experience reports on various hutches. Then, if you buy a rabbit hutch test winner, you will certainly have made a good decision even without doing a lot of research.
The species-appropriate facilities of a rabbit hutch
In addition to the size, the design of the cage also plays an important role. Here is an overview of which facilities belong in any case in the rabbit hutch:
- Water trough: this can hang on the grid as a water dispenser. Here you must make sure that you clean the drinking tube again and again so that no germs can form. In addition, not every water dispenser fits on every grid. Alternatively, you can put the water in a bowl in the cage.
- Food bowl: This should be made of heavy ceramic or stone. This will ensure that it cannot be knocked over. Place it on a hutch or mound, so the rabbit does not fill it with litter.
- Hay rack: Hops are particularly fond of hay. However, if it is only loosely placed on the floor, it is quickly distributed throughout the hutch. Therefore, a hay rack is particularly suitable for offering hay to rabbits. A model that is hooked into the grid, you can well refill from the outside while the rabbits pull the hay inside.
- Rabbit Cottage: A Hideout Place is an absolute must of the setup. Even if your rabbit has never lived in the wild, it will want to escape when danger strikes. In its cottage, it feels safe and secure. The feeling of safety is enhanced if the hutch has two entrances.
This way, it is easy to reach and can be left on the other side in case of danger. You should also make sure that there is enough space in the hutch if you have several rabbits. All of them should find room in the house at the same time. Your animal will be especially happy if the hutch has a flat roof, which can also be used as a lookout point.
- Animal Bedding: The floor of the hutch should be filled with cozy and natural animal bedding. It not only provides a pleasantly warm and loose floor but also absorbs the urine. On the other hand, the tubercles get lost in the litter and do not lie freely on the surface. There are different types of bedding. It would help if you chose untreated litter.
Rabbit hutch and proper hygiene
Before building a rabbit hutch or choosing a trade model, the question would be, “How do I clean everything with little effort?”
If a stone floor is chosen, everything can be swept up once a week, and you could even still spray everything down with a garden hose with a nozzle every quarter if it doesn’t scare the rabbits. For this, you need to get either inside the rabbit hutch, which should then be high enough. The other option is removable roof elements to reach everything from the outside.
The right location for your rabbit hutch
Whether you choose a mobile outdoor enclosure or a permanent rabbit hutch, there are a few factors to consider when choosing a location that will help keep your rabbit comfortable:
- Rabbits can tolerate cold much better than heat. Therefore, be sure to provide them with adequate shade in their cage during the summer to protect them from high temperatures.
- A short downpour will not harm a rabbit. However, the hutch should be placed in such a way that the animals are not exposed to continuous wetness during prolonged rain or even in the fall. The bedding should remain dry so that the rabbits do not catch cold.
- Drafts should be avoided if possible, as rabbits are sensitive to cold winds. Here it is also ideal if the hutch is equipped with a windbreak, which protects the animals from drafts.
- Rabbits are very sensitive to noise. Therefore, when choosing a location, it should be taken into account that the rabbits like it nice and quiet.
- Since we humans are a bit comfortable from time to time, you should make sure that the rabbit hutch is not too far from the house when you place it in the garden. That way, it’s not too far a walk to provide hay and daily petting.
Important: Combine the Rabbit Hutch with Free Run
In the trade, you will hardly find a rabbit hutch in the necessary size that meets all the requirements for species-appropriate husbandry of rabbits.
Therefore, we recommend buying a solid rabbit hutch with several floors and a small free-range area and adding a large marten-proof free-range area.
The fencing of the free run
Rabbits are escape animals. They do not fight their way out but escape if they are attacked. In the rabbit hutch, of course, they can not. Therefore, this must consequently keep off the attackers. An escape door into the rabbit hutch will not suffice, as martens will also fit through it, or a bird of prey will grab the rabbit once and not let it run again.
So the rabbit hutch must be secured with a covered fence that a marten cannot bite through. So no rabbit wire mesh should be chosen, but an aviary mesh. If you want to enter the rabbit hutch, the fencing should be about 2 meters high. Another option is to design the roof for removal. However, with 10 m² as the minimum floor space, you would have to work with roof compartments since you certainly can’t remove or fold down more than 2 m² in one on your own.
The wood should be weather resistant, but care must be taken with the wood treatment to prevent damage to a gnawing rabbit. One option would be to build up the wooden frame and fix the aviary wire from the inside, preventing the animals from getting to the wood.
Digging box in the free run
Rabbits love to dig, so in the free run should be placed a sandbox for children, where the top 15 cm is not filled with soil and should be about 40 cm high.
It then needs a footbridge, of course, so that the rabbits can get in easily. They can dig, but do not throw the soil or sand out.
Who chooses a plastic tub, but should drill a hole in it at the deepest point, so that the rabbits do not have a mud bath at some point.
Put A box for greenery in the free run
Rabbits are naturally happy when given fresh greenery in the enclosure. But they also sometimes like to lie in the greenery and pluck at the plants. So, several large flat plastic planters can alternate greenery with rabbit herbs and be placed in the rabbit hutch.
Usually, the greenery will be gone the same day. Alternatively, a meadow for rodent herbs can be created in the garden, from which something is continuously harvested.
Create play opportunities in the free run
To keep rabbits busy and not bored in their enclosure, each hutch should be equipped with appropriate and varied rabbit toys. A wide variety of rabbit toys are offered in pet stores.
Caution, rabbits have a pronounced digging instinct.
Rabbits love to dig in the ground and can dig meter-long tunnels. An example of such tunnels can be found here. You might not find your rabbits after a few weeks if you just put up a rabbit hutch. Even if these would always come home, the marten may come right along.
Rabbits love natural meadows where they can always pluck fresh greenery, but they also like stone slabs very much. So if the rabbit hutch is built on a meadow and you still sink stone slabs vertically into the ground at the height of the fences to enclose the rabbits, you would usually have only bare ground after a short time because the rabbits are very active.
So the stone slabs from the hardware store can be laid better to overlap the rabbit hutch by 20 cm still. The whole area is laid with these stone slabs, which are used for terraces or outdoor seating areas. The rabbit hutch is placed on top and can even be dowelled to the stone slabs. The dowel holes are best drilled into the slabs without hitting them.
So that the rabbits like it, just put in some dead wood with a few branches, the bottle box, a watering hole, a second floor, which at the same time casts shade and a greenery box. The feeding should be chosen so that the food remains dry.
If the dry food is given scarcely, no leftovers will remain, which would be harmful to health if they become moldy. Dry hay, however, should always be enough because fresh green food will only sometimes be enough.
Who pays attention to all this, allows his rabbits a species-appropriate attitude. The animals will thank you, stay healthy longer and thus be an even greater joy for the owner.