Rabbits are one of the small but smart pets that make an adorable addition to a home. When you do decide to welcome a rabbit as part of the family, you want to make sure to provide them a safe and cosy space to call home. Although an outdoor rabbit hutch is often the traditional means of housing rabbits, they are best placed indoors, away from the elements and predators. Indoor accommodation also allows your rabbit to interact more with your family, fulfilling its needs as a social creature. Here are some tips to remember when setting up your rabbit hutch.
Space is important
Your rabbit’s accommodation is its entire world. Since your rabbit will be spending many years in its home, you will need to provide the appropriate housing and all the provisions a rabbit will need in its day to day. They may be small, but rabbits need enough space for comfortable living and exercise. In the wild, they do a lot of hopping and jumping as they graze, and they will need space to keep up such activities.
Lacking space or occasion to move around and be a rabbit can put your pet in poor shape and poor state of health. Among the potential health problems are osteoporosis or weakened bones, obesity, muscle wastage, and heart problems. What’s more, a rabbit can develop behaviour issues, like over-grooming, constant chewing of its cage, destroying its belongings and even apathy or lack of interest in its environment. The minimum recommended cage space for one small- to medium-sized rabbit is four feet wide, two feet deep and two feet tall, but with rabbits, bigger is always better.
Picking a hutch
A growing number of owners are taking to letting their rabbits have free reign in a bunny-proofed room or even in large parts of the house. However, some will not have the time and appropriate space to do this and so choose to keep their rabbit confined. Rabbit hutches are easy to make yourself from cupboards, repurposed furniture and storage cubes. Ready-made rabbit hutches for sale are an option, of course, but make sure there is enough room for your rabbit. In any case, avoid chicken wire in the materials used for your rabbit cage. Rabbits like to gnaw, and yours will no doubt give a go at its enclosure at some point. Chicken wire could injure your rabbit’s mouth. Additionally, the bottom of wire cages can ulcerate a rabbit’s feet. Better if you can provide a rabbit cage with a solid bottom. The materials used for the rabbit cage must hold up against your rabbit’s constant gnawing.
Rabbit hutch amenities
The inside of the rabbit hutch needs to be equipped with a few important items to keep your rabbit fighting fit, both physically and mentally.
If you did not already know, bunnies can learn to use a litter box. When it assumes its new home, a rabbit will choose a corner of its cage for elimination. As soon as you see where this is, line that corner with newspaper and place a litter box there. You can thinly line litter boxes with hay preferably or scraps of paper, but avoid wood shavings, especially from pine and cedar, since the scent can affect your rabbit’s liver enzymes. Also avoid using clay litter since it can cause respiratory and digestive problems. Changing the litter daily can help with keeping your rabbit’s home and its location clean and fresh.
Hay is the most important component of your rabbit’s diet. To keep your rabbit’s gut healthy, provide unlimited hay at all times. A curious thing about rabbits is their habit of eating while doing their business. To accommodate this behaviour, experts and experienced rabbit keepers recommend placing the hay feeder box near the litter box. If the rabbit is only moving in, place the hay feeder after the litter box to encourage your bun to actually get in and get used to the litter box.
Waterer and feeding bowls
Rabbits tend to drink a lot of water, so you need to provide potable water ad libitum within the rabbit hutch. While a watering bowl is acceptable, it can get dirtied easily during a rabbit’s daily activities. Rabbit keepers recommend a water bottle that can hang from the side of the cage and accessed through a watering valve, preferably made of stainless steel.
When looking for feeding bowls to install in your rabbit hutch, pick ceramic or stainless kinds to hold up against those ever-growing front teeth. Remember to feed your bunny with good-quality pellets that are fresh, plain and does not contain seeds, nuts and coloured bits. Your rabbit will also need its daily ration of dark leafy greens like dark lettuce, collard greens, carrot tops and turnip greens.
Because rabbits are naturally active jumpers, you need to allow it several hours of play every day. You can install a run at the bottom of the rabbit hutch to allow your thumper some space to work out. To keep your rabbit preoccupied and its gnawing tendencies sated, provide your rabbit with appropriate toys, such as grass or wicker balls, a digging box, and cardboard castles for hiding. You can also provide a thick old book or telephone directory for your rabbit’s chewing pleasure.
Don’t forget to provide you rabbit a place for sleep. Provide a nesting box filled with straw or other nesting material. The box can also be made of metal to sustain a rabbit’s gnawing. A nesting box for a medium-sized rabbit can measure 16 inches long by 10 inches wide by 8 inches high.
Once your rabbit cage is set up, your bun is now ready to move in. To keep your rabbit clean and healthy and your surroundings fresh, clean and sanitize your rabbit hutch at least once every day.