Homes and Companionship for Rabbits – The Ultimate Guide
Housing your rabbits in a comfortable, room hutch is important for their health and well-being, but you can also erect a small fence to give them a larger area to run in as well as some further, secure outdoor living space. This allows you to spend time with your rabbit in safety, comfort and in all weather.
One mistake a lot of people make is in placement of the hutch. Placing your rabbit hutch directly on the ground will reduce air circulation and also subject the wood of the hutch to rot due to absorbing damp off the floor.
The hutch should ideally have a waterproof roof (as you don’t want your rabbit getting wet!) but consideration also needs to be made in the warmer (and occasionally ‘hot’) periods of the year as this covering will increase the heat in the hutch further – therefore choosing a cool, shady spot for the hutch is important.
Security is also very important – both to stop predators getting in and also to stop your rabbits from escaping. A good tip is to always use more secure bolt fastenings as opposed to turn buttons and weak latches. This helps prevent from ‘accidental’ opening.
For improved comfort – don’t be tempted to use wire/mesh floors for the hutch, as your rabbits feet can become worn and sore and also less hygienic (as cleaning a wire mesh floor is much more difficult than a smoother flat one).
As for size – there’s no such thing as a hutch that’s too large! Your rabbit will love the extra space so give them as much as you can afford to. There should also be at least 2 rooms to the hutch, one main area where they eat and one where they can comfortably rest and sleep. Plenty of exercise space is also very important.
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Outdoor Rabbit Runs
Runs are great for rabbits as it really allows them to exercise and not get bored. It should be attached to the hutch so Rabbits can freely choose whether to be indoors or outdoors.
Needless to say, the run should be large enough for your rabbit to run about, hop, jump and stand up.
Also, bear in mind that Rabbits like to dig, so make sure the grounding of the run is secure that they cannot burrow out underneath the fencing and escape, similarly that no predators can burrow in!
Cleanliness and Health
A clean environment helps to keep Rabbits healthy so it’s very important to have a daily cleaning plan in place.
Some good tips to help you include putting newspaper (or other absorbant paper) down under their toilet area, which helps to absorb runaway liquids and also make it easier for you to clean the area afterwards). Remove any spilled foods & water too.
Keeping the hutch clean is important as it helps to prevent illnesses and conditions such as respiratory conditions (snuffles), sore feet, urine scalding and fly strike from dirty bottoms.
It is always, always a good idea to get a companion rabbit to prevent boredom and loneliness and help maintain better health all round.
If you can’t get two rabbits together from a young age, then you can introduce a second rabbit later on – but there are considerations and steps that should be followed:
1.) Always pair up neutered rabbits and don’t mix and match.
2.) Don’t do it in breeding season (hormone levels make it very difficult)
3.) Choose rabbits of similar age and size if you can.
4.) Start the introduction early on in the day, to maximise the time you have to supervise progress and step in where necessary.
5.) Introduce them in a large, neutral territory such as secure garden or a big run and with plenty of hiding places and fresh food and water. This will all help to maximise the chance of bonding and generally speed up the process as well.
The Two Run Method
Another good way to introduce rabbits to one another is to use two rabbit runs side by side, next to each other.
This allows each rabbit to feel safe and secure and not ‘threatened’ by another’s presence in their home, but allows them to gradually get to know each other over time and in safe manner.
When they start to show signs of being near each other and comfortable in each other’s presence – you can then take things to the next level and physically introduce them to a joint hutch/run area for short periods (always under your supervision).
As they begin to bond, you can then increase the amount of time they spend together until eventually they can live happily in one run/hutch if you want to. Or you can keep things as they are with separate hutches and have the runs join so that the rabbits can choose as they wish!