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A Guide to Welfare-Friendly Rabbit Housing

A Guide to Welfare-Friendly Rabbit Housing
Rabbits
,
General Care
Share this article
A Guide to Welfare-Friendly Rabbit Housing
A Guide to Welfare-Friendly Rabbit Housing
Rabbits
,
General Care
A Guide to Welfare-Friendly Rabbit Housing
Share this article
A Guide to Welfare-Friendly Rabbit Housing
A suitable living environment with appropriate space to carry out natural behaviours is vital to the health and welfare of your rabbit. In their housing, rabbits should be able to run, hop, dig, jump, stretch out, and rest. As prey animals, they should be able to stand on their back legs to look out for predators. Being able to move around and carry out these natural behaviours ensures their bodies stay healthy and strong, preventing spinal abnormalities, growth problems, sores, and injuries.
 

Companionship

Rabbits are very sociable creatures with a lifespan of 8-12 years. They suffer if kept alone so it is important that your rabbit lives in groups of at least two. Being prey animals, rabbits rely on companions for warmth and safety. Solitary rabbits become anxious as they feel the need to be alert in case of danger and predation 24/7 and never relax. They can develop negative behaviours such as bar biting, and barbering (overgrooming due to chronic stress and anxiety) which in turn can lead to health issues, with serious consequences.

It is recommended that rabbits housed together are sterilised/ neutered. Sterilised rabbits are healthier, and happier and generally make better companions with reduced incidence of conflict. Accidental litters are also prevented.

Living space

Cages/playpens should be comfortable and spacious enough to allow your rabbit to stand on their hind legs, stretch out, and move around comfortably. They should be able to dig, run, hop, hide, and jump.

Recommendations for a minimum living space for our rabbits to allow their natural behaviours are a cage or playpen measuring 2m x 1m area, with a 1m recommended height. 

Puppy playpens can be reasonably adjusted if purpose-built areas are not easy to achieve in your home. Most rabbits will stay in cages or playpens only part of the day and many will be allowed access to a large part of the house/apartment for many hours. Some can also enter and leave the cage as they like, as long as they can be supervised. A smaller cage can be tolerated if you can allow your rabbit free access to a larger space to exercise for at least 8-12 hours a day. 

Cages

Considerations should be taken regarding the material the cage/enclosure is made from. Wire or mesh is commonly used but you should ensure that the spacing is not too broad to prevent body parts getting trapped and causing injuries. Flooring should be solid, as wires can be uncomfortable to stand on and may lead to foot injuries, rubs or infections.

Plastic or wooden cages can be considered but also bear in mind that wooden cages may be nibbled and gnawed. They should be checked carefully to ensure your rabbit is still safely secured and any damaged areas should be replaced.

Cages should have good ventilation to encourage fresh air flow, allow temperature and humidity control, and be easy to clean.

Bedding options

Using straw or wood shavings is an option although fibres can be sharp and cause injuries including damaging eyes. Parasites, bugs, or infections can also be brought in on this type of bedding which is a risk of this choice. Injuries and infection risk are why these are not the preferred choices. It is recommended to use paper-based bedding or fleecy vet bed-type material, which is great for clean, warm, burrowing options within the cage. 

Water bowls

Rabbits often enjoy a bowl of water in addition to or instead of the traditional pet water bottles. Any water bottles or bowls should be refreshed daily, kept clean, and topped up regularly.

Covered areas

It is recommended that the cage include at least a partly covered area for hiding/sleeping to ensure your rabbit feels safe and secure. This can be in the form of a wooden box, a cardboard box, or indeed in the design of the cage itself. 

Enrichment

Rabbits spend 80% of their time in the wild foraging, so much of their enrichment involves feeding puzzles and solutions. Scatter feeding or treat balls instead of using bowls is a great way to simulate natural feeding habits.

  • Platforms, tunnels, and furniture allow rabbits to play with and hide toys(e.g., willow balls are fun to throw around and chew).
  • Digging is a natural rabbit behaviour, so consider supplying an area, either a large litter tray or a planter with soil in to allow some recreational digging for a happy bunny.

Household dangers

Household dangers include:

  • Wires and electrics. Wild rabbits gnaw through tree roots, and so they are drawn to wires due to their similarity. Remove the risk of electrocution by moving accessible wires or protecting them with a cable protector.
  • Poisonous plants. Be aware of plants that your rabbit can and can’t be around. A surprising amount is toxic to them, and few are safe, so it is best to keep all household plants high up out of your rabbit's reach. Some of the most commonly encountered toxic plants include Daffodils, Lilies, Rhododendrons, Azaleas, buttercups, mistletoe, hydrangeas, chrysanthemums, poppies, hyacinths, and Iris’.
  • Household cleaning products should be kept out of harm's way. Products such as chlorine/ bleach products, detergents and dishwashing liquids, rug and upholstery cleaners, furniture polish, oven cleaners, and disinfectants should all be kept away from reach to prevent ingestion and illness. 
  • Escaping or being trodden on! Keep an eye on your hopping friend. It’s common for them to get under our feet and injure themselves.
  • Other pets and children can pose a risk to your rabbit friend. Always supervise your rabbits and keep them away from pets that pose a risk to them. Rabbits are not a good first pet option for children as they are fragile and must be handled with care.

Following this easy guide will have you living in harmony with your rabbit in no time. If however, you have any concerns about the health of your rabbit, contact your veterinarian for advice.

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A suitable living environment with appropriate space to carry out natural behaviours is vital to the health and welfare of your rabbit. In their housing, rabbits should be able to run, hop, dig, jump, stretch out, and rest. As prey animals, they should be able to stand on their back legs to look out for predators. Being able to move around and carry out these natural behaviours ensures their bodies stay healthy and strong, preventing spinal abnormalities, growth problems, sores, and injuries.
 

Companionship

Rabbits are very sociable creatures with a lifespan of 8-12 years. They suffer if kept alone so it is important that your rabbit lives in groups of at least two. Being prey animals, rabbits rely on companions for warmth and safety. Solitary rabbits become anxious as they feel the need to be alert in case of danger and predation 24/7 and never relax. They can develop negative behaviours such as bar biting, and barbering (overgrooming due to chronic stress and anxiety) which in turn can lead to health issues, with serious consequences.

It is recommended that rabbits housed together are sterilised/ neutered. Sterilised rabbits are healthier, and happier and generally make better companions with reduced incidence of conflict. Accidental litters are also prevented.

Living space

Cages/playpens should be comfortable and spacious enough to allow your rabbit to stand on their hind legs, stretch out, and move around comfortably. They should be able to dig, run, hop, hide, and jump.

Recommendations for a minimum living space for our rabbits to allow their natural behaviours are a cage or playpen measuring 2m x 1m area, with a 1m recommended height. 

Puppy playpens can be reasonably adjusted if purpose-built areas are not easy to achieve in your home. Most rabbits will stay in cages or playpens only part of the day and many will be allowed access to a large part of the house/apartment for many hours. Some can also enter and leave the cage as they like, as long as they can be supervised. A smaller cage can be tolerated if you can allow your rabbit free access to a larger space to exercise for at least 8-12 hours a day. 

Cages

Considerations should be taken regarding the material the cage/enclosure is made from. Wire or mesh is commonly used but you should ensure that the spacing is not too broad to prevent body parts getting trapped and causing injuries. Flooring should be solid, as wires can be uncomfortable to stand on and may lead to foot injuries, rubs or infections.

Plastic or wooden cages can be considered but also bear in mind that wooden cages may be nibbled and gnawed. They should be checked carefully to ensure your rabbit is still safely secured and any damaged areas should be replaced.

Cages should have good ventilation to encourage fresh air flow, allow temperature and humidity control, and be easy to clean.

Bedding options

Using straw or wood shavings is an option although fibres can be sharp and cause injuries including damaging eyes. Parasites, bugs, or infections can also be brought in on this type of bedding which is a risk of this choice. Injuries and infection risk are why these are not the preferred choices. It is recommended to use paper-based bedding or fleecy vet bed-type material, which is great for clean, warm, burrowing options within the cage. 

Water bowls

Rabbits often enjoy a bowl of water in addition to or instead of the traditional pet water bottles. Any water bottles or bowls should be refreshed daily, kept clean, and topped up regularly.

Covered areas

It is recommended that the cage include at least a partly covered area for hiding/sleeping to ensure your rabbit feels safe and secure. This can be in the form of a wooden box, a cardboard box, or indeed in the design of the cage itself. 

Enrichment

Rabbits spend 80% of their time in the wild foraging, so much of their enrichment involves feeding puzzles and solutions. Scatter feeding or treat balls instead of using bowls is a great way to simulate natural feeding habits.

  • Platforms, tunnels, and furniture allow rabbits to play with and hide toys(e.g., willow balls are fun to throw around and chew).
  • Digging is a natural rabbit behaviour, so consider supplying an area, either a large litter tray or a planter with soil in to allow some recreational digging for a happy bunny.

Household dangers

Household dangers include:

  • Wires and electrics. Wild rabbits gnaw through tree roots, and so they are drawn to wires due to their similarity. Remove the risk of electrocution by moving accessible wires or protecting them with a cable protector.
  • Poisonous plants. Be aware of plants that your rabbit can and can’t be around. A surprising amount is toxic to them, and few are safe, so it is best to keep all household plants high up out of your rabbit's reach. Some of the most commonly encountered toxic plants include Daffodils, Lilies, Rhododendrons, Azaleas, buttercups, mistletoe, hydrangeas, chrysanthemums, poppies, hyacinths, and Iris’.
  • Household cleaning products should be kept out of harm's way. Products such as chlorine/ bleach products, detergents and dishwashing liquids, rug and upholstery cleaners, furniture polish, oven cleaners, and disinfectants should all be kept away from reach to prevent ingestion and illness. 
  • Escaping or being trodden on! Keep an eye on your hopping friend. It’s common for them to get under our feet and injure themselves.
  • Other pets and children can pose a risk to your rabbit friend. Always supervise your rabbits and keep them away from pets that pose a risk to them. Rabbits are not a good first pet option for children as they are fragile and must be handled with care.

Following this easy guide will have you living in harmony with your rabbit in no time. If however, you have any concerns about the health of your rabbit, contact your veterinarian for advice.

Keep Reading
Keep Reading
Keep Reading
Subscribe
Always be up to date!
Receive a digest of the latest events and offers for you and your pet every month.
A suitable living environment with appropriate space to carry out natural behaviours is vital to the health and welfare of your rabbit. In their housing, rabbits should be able to run, hop, dig, jump, stretch out, and rest. As prey animals, they should be able to stand on their back legs to look out for predators. Being able to move around and carry out these natural behaviours ensures their bodies stay healthy and strong, preventing spinal abnormalities, growth problems, sores, and injuries.
 

Companionship

Rabbits are very sociable creatures with a lifespan of 8-12 years. They suffer if kept alone so it is important that your rabbit lives in groups of at least two. Being prey animals, rabbits rely on companions for warmth and safety. Solitary rabbits become anxious as they feel the need to be alert in case of danger and predation 24/7 and never relax. They can develop negative behaviours such as bar biting, and barbering (overgrooming due to chronic stress and anxiety) which in turn can lead to health issues, with serious consequences.

It is recommended that rabbits housed together are sterilised/ neutered. Sterilised rabbits are healthier, and happier and generally make better companions with reduced incidence of conflict. Accidental litters are also prevented.

Living space

Cages/playpens should be comfortable and spacious enough to allow your rabbit to stand on their hind legs, stretch out, and move around comfortably. They should be able to dig, run, hop, hide, and jump.

Recommendations for a minimum living space for our rabbits to allow their natural behaviours are a cage or playpen measuring 2m x 1m area, with a 1m recommended height. 

Puppy playpens can be reasonably adjusted if purpose-built areas are not easy to achieve in your home. Most rabbits will stay in cages or playpens only part of the day and many will be allowed access to a large part of the house/apartment for many hours. Some can also enter and leave the cage as they like, as long as they can be supervised. A smaller cage can be tolerated if you can allow your rabbit free access to a larger space to exercise for at least 8-12 hours a day. 

Cages

Considerations should be taken regarding the material the cage/enclosure is made from. Wire or mesh is commonly used but you should ensure that the spacing is not too broad to prevent body parts getting trapped and causing injuries. Flooring should be solid, as wires can be uncomfortable to stand on and may lead to foot injuries, rubs or infections.

Plastic or wooden cages can be considered but also bear in mind that wooden cages may be nibbled and gnawed. They should be checked carefully to ensure your rabbit is still safely secured and any damaged areas should be replaced.

Cages should have good ventilation to encourage fresh air flow, allow temperature and humidity control, and be easy to clean.

Bedding options

Using straw or wood shavings is an option although fibres can be sharp and cause injuries including damaging eyes. Parasites, bugs, or infections can also be brought in on this type of bedding which is a risk of this choice. Injuries and infection risk are why these are not the preferred choices. It is recommended to use paper-based bedding or fleecy vet bed-type material, which is great for clean, warm, burrowing options within the cage. 

Water bowls

Rabbits often enjoy a bowl of water in addition to or instead of the traditional pet water bottles. Any water bottles or bowls should be refreshed daily, kept clean, and topped up regularly.

Covered areas

It is recommended that the cage include at least a partly covered area for hiding/sleeping to ensure your rabbit feels safe and secure. This can be in the form of a wooden box, a cardboard box, or indeed in the design of the cage itself. 

Enrichment

Rabbits spend 80% of their time in the wild foraging, so much of their enrichment involves feeding puzzles and solutions. Scatter feeding or treat balls instead of using bowls is a great way to simulate natural feeding habits.

  • Platforms, tunnels, and furniture allow rabbits to play with and hide toys(e.g., willow balls are fun to throw around and chew).
  • Digging is a natural rabbit behaviour, so consider supplying an area, either a large litter tray or a planter with soil in to allow some recreational digging for a happy bunny.

Household dangers

Household dangers include:

  • Wires and electrics. Wild rabbits gnaw through tree roots, and so they are drawn to wires due to their similarity. Remove the risk of electrocution by moving accessible wires or protecting them with a cable protector.
  • Poisonous plants. Be aware of plants that your rabbit can and can’t be around. A surprising amount is toxic to them, and few are safe, so it is best to keep all household plants high up out of your rabbit's reach. Some of the most commonly encountered toxic plants include Daffodils, Lilies, Rhododendrons, Azaleas, buttercups, mistletoe, hydrangeas, chrysanthemums, poppies, hyacinths, and Iris’.
  • Household cleaning products should be kept out of harm's way. Products such as chlorine/ bleach products, detergents and dishwashing liquids, rug and upholstery cleaners, furniture polish, oven cleaners, and disinfectants should all be kept away from reach to prevent ingestion and illness. 
  • Escaping or being trodden on! Keep an eye on your hopping friend. It’s common for them to get under our feet and injure themselves.
  • Other pets and children can pose a risk to your rabbit friend. Always supervise your rabbits and keep them away from pets that pose a risk to them. Rabbits are not a good first pet option for children as they are fragile and must be handled with care.

Following this easy guide will have you living in harmony with your rabbit in no time. If however, you have any concerns about the health of your rabbit, contact your veterinarian for advice.

Keep Reading
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Receive a digest of the latest events and offers for you and your pet every month.
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