How to house your rabbits

Rabbits are active animals – they love to run, dig, hop and jump. Providing them with spacious housing attached to a secure run will help keep them active, happy and healthy.

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The ideal enclosure size for a pair of rabbits

  • Hutch – 6 ft long by 2 ft deep (183 cm by 61 cm). This is suitable for small to medium breed rabbits
  • Shed or wooden Wendy House – 5 ft by 5 ft (153 cm by 153 cm)
  • Exercise run – 10 ft long by 5 ft wide by 3 ft high (305 cm by 153 cm), total space: 60 ft2. This will need to be permanently and securely attached to the hutch or shed allowing your rabbits the choice to move between the two.

Groups will require a bigger space depending on their breed and activity level.

Your rabbits’ hutch

There are many hutches available in pet stores and online. However, many are very poorly made and often fall apart within the first two years. Consider investing a little more with a welfare-approved hutch company where the hutch is made of strong wood and suitable bolts have been fitted on the doors.

Double-level hutches are not ideal for rabbits. Your rabbits can be at risk of falling down the ramp or floor hole when they are elderly and less mobile. If you go with this option, build a banister along the ramp and around the top-level hole to aid them.

Wooden Wendy Houses or garden sheds can make an ideal home for your rabbits. Sheds can easily be converted with mesh doors and a step-over barrier to stop them escaping. The shed offers more floor space for your rabbits and suits children and families who want to socialise with their rabbits but may be put off by the weather.

Whether you’re planning to buy a hutch or build your own, carry out regular inspections on your rabbits’ accommodation to check for damage from poor weather conditions.

Their outdoor run

Rabbits are very active animals who enjoying grazing and exploring their territory. Having a spacious run filled with activities and toys will provide this.

  • The run will need to be secure and well-built to prevent predators and young children trying to climb in when you’re not able to supervise
  • The run can be placed on a grass or concrete floor. If using grass, you will need to move the run more often to prevent your rabbits from digging out or predators digging in. Concrete prevents this from happening and is easier to keep clean and dry in the winter
  • Metal, folding runs are unsuitable, as they often do not have a secure lid and are flimsy against predators and adverse weather
  • Chicken coop and hutch/run combinations are also unsuitable. It is very unlikely that you will find one at the ideal size for the rest area and run. They can also be very tricky to clean and make socialising with your rabbits difficult.

Building your own: what you need to know

If you’re considering building your own rabbit accommodation, it’s vital you use the right materials. Remember, this housing needs to last up to 14 years. It needs to be strong and secure to protect your rabbits from unnecessary accidents. Here are a few things to bear in mind before you start building:

  • Chicken wire is not suitable for animal housing. It is too weak and easy for your rabbits to damage and escape from
  • Use small gauge, strong welded mesh. The mesh should be nailed or heavy-duty stapled on to prevent your rabbits from forcing the mesh from the framework
  • Outdoor hutches, sheds and runs will need secure bolts placed on the doors, not swivel latches. Predators and young children can easily open swivel latches or flimsy bolts
  • Run lids will need to be strong enough to withhold a predator or windblown items landing on them. Ideally, make the roof in three sections with a supporting beam to aid the strength and prevent dipping in the middle
  • Cable ties are not suitable for tying run panels together. The hutch or run must be secured with suitable wood screws
  • Plastic children’s play houses are not suitable for rabbit housing
  • Tunnels or pop holes fitted between the hutch and run will need to be secure and durable. Poorly made tunnels can lead to escaped rabbits or easy access for predators.