Housing your Rabbit
Many rabbits are housed outdoors in wooden hutches, whilst others are housed indoors in plastic and wire cages.
Outdoor runs should be well protected from the weather – rain, cold, wind and heat must all be considered in selecting a sheltered location.
All outdoor housing must be sturdy and secure to protect the rabbits against foxes and other predators. If you are allowing your pet permanent access to an outdoor run it must be remembered that not only can rabbits dig out but foxes can dig in, so mesh or paved flooring is essential.
Rabbits can make good household pets, but it must be remembered that rabbits are naturally inclined to dig and chew so should not be allowed access to delicate furniture or electrical cables. Playtime outside of the cage should be supervised and access to other pets prevented.
Like cats, they can quickly learn to use a litter tray.
Indoor cages specifically designed for rabbits are available – as a general rule go as large as possible and ensure there is a sheltered area for the rabbit to feel safe in.
The bedding provided to rabbits usually consists of wood shavings and straw or hay, however shredded paper or hemp beddings are also suitable.
Sawdust should not be used.
Rabbit Food Bowls
A ceramic or metal food bowl is generally better as rabbits will often gnaw at plastic bowls. Water must always be available, either in a drinking bottle or a bowl.
Remember that bowls can be spilled and bottles can get bunged so either needs checking frequently.
There should always be plenty of hay – not just as bedding but also as food. Most rabbits will enjoy playing with toys and can get bored without any leading to destructive or potentially aggressive behaviour. Toys designed specifically for rabbits are available, however some cat or dog toys (such as solid balls) may also be suitable. Cardboard tubes stuffed with hay make excellent toys, as do cardboard boxes.
Rabbits are highly social in the wild so usually appreciate companionship and may become depressed or aggressive if kept alone.
Females can be kept together but can be aggressive towards each other if they are not neutered.
A castrated male may be kept with a female; she can be left entire but again may be more prone to fighting if not spayed.
Although some people have successfully kept males together they have a very strong tendency to fight (even when neutered) and we often see injured males that have been attacked, even by their brothers.
Can Rabbits and Guinea Pigs be Kept Together?
Rabbits should never be kept with guinea pigs as their care needs are different, they can injure each other by accident or through fights, and rabbits can carry the bacterium Bordatella which does not cause illness in rabbits but can be fatal to guinea pigs.
Rabbit Heat Stroke
Rabbits are very sensitive to heat stroke so it is critical to keep their environmental temperature at or below 26°C (80°F) and ensure their housing is well ventilated.
In the summer this is often a problem in hutches or sheds that are exposed to full sunlight or when a rabbit is in a run with no shade available.