You might think your rabbit is happy in a hutch or even a cage. But bunnies need to run, jump, dig and engage in other natural behaviours. And they can’t do that if the size of their enclosure prevents it. How can you make a hutch a home? We’ll show you how, and show you why a hutch is not enough.
How big is your rabbit hutch? The Rabbit Welfare Association and Fund (RWAF) hutch recommendation is an enclosure at least six feet by two feet (1.8 metres by 0.6 meters). The RSPCA rabbit hutch size recommendation is even larger: at least three metres long by one metre wide by one metre high.
Does that sound like a lot? It isn’t. These minimums will allow a rabbit to jump, run, stand, and turn around, but your rabbit needs more than that. In addition to the hutch, your rabbit needs outdoor access, and that means a run.
No, a hutch alone isn’t enough. But it can be the foundation of a larger home that will help your rabbit to stay happy, healthy, and safe.
What Size Should a Rabbit Hutch Be?
Wild cottontail rabbits have a home range of up to 20 acres. Your bunnies don’t need that much room to be happy, but put yourself in their place. The hutch is where they will be eating, sleeping, going to the toilet, and spending a lot of time. How much living space would you need?
Why Bigger is Better
The bigger your enclosure, the more room your rabbit — or rabbits — will have to stretch their front and back legs. If you have more than one bun, it will allow each of them a space of their own, space for their toys, and privacy when they need it.
Large Floor Space
A decent-sized footprint will give your bunny plenty of room to move about. A floor space of 1.8 metres long by 0.6 metres wide will ensure that they can hop and run.
The RSPCA recommends a minimum ceiling height of one metre. This will allow your bun to stand up on its back legs, stretch, and even jump.
If you live in a cooler climate, a decent sized sleeping area will provide your bunnies with room enough for bedding to keep them warm. The RSPCA recommends rabbits have a minimum sleeping area that measures one metre by one metre, and has a small entrance, which can mimic the feeling of a burrow.
Consider adding a nest box to provide your pet with that all-important alone time. A nest box can also help to conceal your pet from predators.
How Much Space Do You Need Per Rabbit?
And what if you have more than one?
For exercise, a rabbit needs a minimum of one uninterrupted three-metre stretch. As for living space, your rabbit will need a space that is at least:
- High enough to stand up without its ears touching the ceiling
- Wide enough to stretch out in all directions
- Long enough from end to end to hop three times in a row
For multiple rabbits, aim for a minimum of 1.1 square metres (12 square feet) of space per rabbit.
Why You Need a Rabbit Run
Like all of us, rabbits need their exercise — probably more than you think.
In the wild, rabbits may run three miles per day. Exercise keeps them fit, but it’s also imperative for mental health. Rabbits are lively and playful. A large rabbit run gives them a place to run and play.
Of course you can’t simply turn your rabbits out into the garden. Not only is a loose rabbit vulnerable to predators, but many rabbits are escape artists. A rabbit run will keep them safe.
A large hutch and run might take up too much space inside, but a small inside hutch can provide a safe place for your bun, as well as a place to “get away from it all.”
Instead of installing a run, a lot of house rabbit owners rabbit-proof a room of their house for exercise. Rabbit proofing takes a bit of work, but it can be a matter of life and death for your indoor pet.
First, remove any electrical cords or cables. Place house plants out of reach. Bunnies love to chew on these, and both could be deadly.
Block off fireplaces and stoves. Rabbits are curious and will explore the most unexpected places.
Spray any wooden surfaces with an anti-chew spray. You could also put PVC tubing around furniture legs and cover baseboards.
If there’s a reclining chair in your rabbit exercise area, consider removing it so that your rabbit doesn’t get injured if someone reclines the chair. Or stuff blankets or towels underneath the chair so your rabbit can’t go under it.
You could also create a limited exercise space using a puppy pen.
A hutch is not enough. Your rabbit also needs a safe place to run, play, and stretch its legs. With a little work, and a little imagination, you can make your rabbit’s hutch a home.