Accommodation 

 Did you know that the hutch is a Roman invention to keep wild rabbits in for fattening up for the pot?  Its amazing how many people still use these ‘holding cages’ as the permanent living quarters for their beloved pets.  I like to think that keeping rabbits as pets has moved on from that, and are treated with the same respect as pet cats and dogs, treated as part of the family, and cared for and respected as such. 

Photo copyright of RWAF ( Bun model used) 

RWAF successfully campaigned to remove this hutch from the shelves of Argos and Homebase.  This 77cm hutch was deemed cruel, with no space for the rabbit to express normal behaviour.

 Up until recently, both the RSPCA and the Rabbit Welfare Association and Fund ( RWAF) have had guidelines on rabbit accommodation.  The RSPCA previously recommended a 6ftx2ftx2ft hutch and a permanently attached and secure, 6ftx4ftx2ft run (36 sq.ft).  RWAF recommends a 6ftx2ftx2ft hutch and a 8ftx4ftx4ft run (44 sq.ft), which is preferably attached.  Both these are with respect to a single or a pair of rabbits, more rabbits will mean more space, larger enclosures and increased activities for the rabbits to do, as well as more spaces for individual rabbits to get away from each other. Both with the idea that bigger is better. 

 Rabbits must be protected as best as possible whilst in your care.   Outdoor rabbits need to be protected from predators, so a good heavy hutch and run that is secured to a concrete base would be an excellent start.  This would stop dogs, cats and foxes from tipping over the accommodation, which is possible with some poorly made hutches, and metal style runs.  It would also stop your bunny from digging out of the run.  You should also check for chew spots where your rabbit is chewing out of the hutch.  Wire welded mesh over the spot would prevent further damage.


Rabbits should also be protected from harmful toxins.  Your rabbit relies on its food from you, so you should have the knowledge about what is safe for your rabbit to eat and what should be avoided. You should also consider what you use to waterproof and protect the hutch and run.  Some stains and paints can be toxic to rabbits, so this should be taken into consideration.  


RSPCA does say that rabbits should be able to express natural behaviour and that owners should have the idea of a ‘living enclosure’  as opposed to the traditional hutch.  

A traditional small hutch should not be the sole and permanent home of any rabbit as it will not meet the rabbit’s need for exercise and stimulation. The RSPCA recommends that rabbit housing comprises a living enclosure containing a main shelter, with additional hiding places and enrichment.’ 

Rabbit owners today should be thinking outside the box.  Sheds, dog kennels and even having your bunny indoors with you are all much better options over a small pet shop hutch, which often totals less than 3-4ft of space, at the bottom of the garden.

Rabbits need space to exercise, to display natural behaviour such as periscoping (going up on hind legs to spot for danger), digging, binkying (high speed jumps and leg kicks), and taking an unhindered sequence of hops.  

Good Accommodation 

Two excellent videos made by Happy Hoppers Forum.

"Why a hutch is not enough" looks at inadequate housing and what to look for in the perfect home for your rabbits

"A guide to housing your rabbits"  looks at what housing would be suitable for your rabbits.

 

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