How big should a rabbit hutch be?
Sadly, many hutches sold for rabbits are too small.
A large weatherproof home that is raised off the ground provides the ideal rabbit environment. Their hutch should be big enough to allow them to lie down and stretch out comfortably in all directions, tall enough for them to stand up on their back legs without their ears touching the top, and long enough to allow at least three hops. A suggested minimum size for most rabbits is 6ft x 2ft x 2ft high.
Do my rabbits need an exercise run as well as a hutch?
Yes. In the wild, rabbits have a home territory the size of 30 tennis courts! So, to get enough exercise, pet rabbits should have as much space as possible.
A large run on a grassy area will help ensure they get enough exercise. This must be escape-proof, safe from predators and offer some shade for maximum rabbit safety. They need an indoor run in cold weather. Ideally, their run should be attached to the hutch so that the rabbits can exercise whenever they want to.
How big should an exercise run for rabbits be?
A run should be tall enough to allow the rabbits to stretch up to full height and they should be able to run, rather than just hop. A suggested minimum size of run for most rabbits is 8ft x 4ft x 2ft high.
Where should I put my rabbit hutch and run?
The hutch should be positioned out of direct sunlight and strong winds.
Should I move the hutch if the weather gets very hot or very cold?
In the winter, if it gets very cold, the hutch may have to be moved into an outhouse or car-free garage (car-free because exhaust fumes can be fatal). Rabbits can suffer from heatstroke so in hot weather, move the hutch and run into shaded areas.
What type of bedding should I give my rabbits?
The hutch should be lined with newspaper or clean wood shavings with soft hay or straw on top. The sleeping area should contain clean, dry hay or straw as bedding.
How often do I need to clean my rabbit hutch?
For the ideal rabbit environment, the hutch should be cleaned at least once a day, by removing any shavings or bedding that are wet and dirty, removing any uneaten fresh food and cleaning the food and water containers before refilling them. You also need to clean the hutch more thoroughly to keep it clean and hygienic – once a week is usually adequate.
From time to time, the hutch should be completely stripped out and scrubbed, with your rabbits only being allowed back into the hutch when it is completely dry.
Hazards and poisons to watch out for
To ensure rabbit safety, make sure the hutch and run are escape-proof and safe from predators such as dogs, cats, foxes, rats and birds of prey. Indoors, rabbits will chew through electric cables so don’t let them have access to these. The following is a list of plants that are poisonous to rabbits. There are many others not on this list, so don’t let your rabbits go near plants or flowerbeds if you are not sure whether they might contain poisonous plants, or if they might have been sprayed with herbicides or pesticides.
Plants that are poisonous to rabbits and should be kept out of the rabbit environment include:
- All plants that grow from bulbs
- Most evergreens
- Oak leaves
- Rhubarb leaves
Feeding your Rabbit
Rabbits need to keep their digestive systems busy, with a mix of two kinds of fibre moving through the gut at all times (these types of fibre are called digestible fibre and indigestible fibre, and we collectively call them ‘Beneficial Fibre’).
Rabbits can’t get enough nutrition from fibre when it passes through their gut the first time, so they pass it through a second time by eating their poo!
Indigestible Fibre - Indigestible fibre is moved through their digestive system and excreted as separate, round, hard droppings. This type of fibre keeps the digestive system moving and their appetite stimulated.
Digestible Fibre - Digestible fibre is moved up into an organ called the caecum – which is like a giant appendix. Good bacteria in the caecum ferment the fibre, making it easy to digest. This emerges in the form of clumps of sticky droppings known as caecotrophs. Rabbits then re-eat the caecotrophs directly from their bottom and the essential nutrients are then absorbed when the digestible fibre passes through for the second time. If rabbits don’t get the right amounts of both digestible and indigestible fibre, it can rapidly lead to serious health problems.
Sticking to The Excel Feeding Plan will ensure your bunnies get the right amounts of fibre in their diet. The Excel Feeding Plan was developed in conjunction with one of the world’s leading small-animal vets, to provide a perfect daily balance of fibre and nutrition.
The Excel Feeding Plan
Vets say that a complete diet for fibrevores should provide for their dental, digestive and emotional health. The Excel Feeding Plan is an easy-to-follow, 5-a-day guide to ensure your rabbit, guinea pig or chinchilla gets the right balance of fibre, nutrients, vitamins and minerals for their all-round health.
5 Step Feeding Plan
The Excel Feeding Plan is a simple five-step guide to help pet owners understand the high levels of beneficial fibre required by fibrevores. It is the only complementary range that, when used together, delivers extremely high levels of the right kinds of fibre needed in fibrevores’ diets and effectively promotes and maintains the dental, digestive and emotional health and longevity of these pets.
Excel Herbage and Forage
These premium-quality Timothy Hay and grass foods should form most of your pet’s diet. They are especially good for dental health as the chewing action required by the fibrevore helps wear down teeth. The teeth of all fibrevores are constantly growing and overgrown teeth can be the cause of potentially fatal problems.