Did you know that wild rabbits cover around five miles a day as they forage for food, dodge predators, hop, run and play with all their warren mates? For pet bunnies, having plenty of room to exhibit all their natural behaviours is absolutely essential.
What do rabbits want?
- An exciting space where they can hop, run, jump, explore and forage and do all the things that come naturally to bunnies.
- Constant access to exercise areas and safe hiding places where they can escape if they feel afraid, as well as platforms from which they can scan their environment for threats.
- Things to do – tunnels and burrow pipes to run through, toys to investigate and play with and plenty of fresh grass and nutritious feeding hay to graze on.
DID YOU KNOW?
Young rabbits that don’t have enough space to run about are more likely to break bones, according to studies. This is because they don’t get the right opportunities to build up their bodies properly.
You can provide your buns with the home of their dreams by following these 6 simple steps:
- GIVE THEM LOTS OF SPACE How much space rabbits need exactly will depend on their size. For example, Giant rabbits need much more space, compared to Dwarf breeds. However, at a bare minimum, two bonded rabbits (regardless of size or breed) need a housing that is 3m x 2m x 1m high. Your rabbits should have enough space to be able to lie stretched right out and hop at least three times. Their home needs to be tall enough for them to be able to stand up fully without their ears touching the roof and to lie fully outstretched in any direction, to take a number of consecutive hops, and to run, jump, explore and forage and do all the things that are second nature to bunnies.
- REMEMBER THAT A HUTCH IS NOT ENOUGH Rabbit hutches restrict rabbits to a small space which can lead to all sorts of health and behavioural problems. While a hutch can be a suitable sleeping area – which should be warm and dry, away from any draughts, with lots of rabbit-safe paper bedding and dust extracted hay – your rabbits should have constant access to an exercise area. Remember that in the wild, rabbits live in burrows – underground housing systems which together make a rabbit warren. Help your rabbits feel right at home by connecting a hutch to a spacious run with burrow pipes and doorways. You could even treat your beloved buns to a Deluxe mesh tunnel connection bundle.
- CREATE SEPARATE AREAS FOR DIFFERENT ACTIVITIES Your buns snuggly sleeping area and rabbit litter tray should be in separate spaces – nobody wants to sleep where their toilet is! Their main feeding area, with their water bowl or bottle, and big pile of tasty feeding hay should also be sited separately. However, rabbits often like to poo and chew, and you can accommodate this slightly baffling bunny trait by hanging a hay tube by their litter tray.
DID YOU KNOW?
Rabbits spend an incredible 70% of their time awake eating! But there isn’t a set dinner time for bunnies. They’ll want to eat their nutritious feeding hay or fresh grass all day, every day. Place lots of high quality, dust extracted feeding hay around their housing so they can have a nibble whenever they like!
- ADD PLACES TO HIDE Rabbits hide because they’re a prey species. When they feel nervous or threatened, they’ll want somewhere to go to escape. Give your rabbits lots of different places to hide themselves away in their housing. Each hiding place should have two entries/exits – such as the Dart & Dive free-standing enrichment tunnel so your buns don’t feel trapped. Den pipes and rabbit benches are also great for hiding in and under. For a DIY solution, pop some feeding hay into an empty cardboard box with two holes cut out of it – that will make one entrance and one exit for your bunnies.
DID YOU KNOW?
Many people provide their rabbits with hay for bedding, but don’t realise they also need high quality feeding hay to eat too. Top quality feeding hay is an excellent source of fibre and helps your rabbits to maintain a healthy gut. Munching on it also keeps their continuously growing teeth in check, thereby helping to prevent dental disease. In fact, many of the medical problems that occur in pet rabbits – such as dental, gut, eye, behavioural, urinary, weight and skin problems – are due to poor nutrition and could be prevented with an improved diet.
- GIVE YOUR BUNS THE OPPORTUNITY TO DO IMPORTANT RABBIT STUFF Your bunnies also need to be able to display all their natural behaviours such as running – rabbits are designed to run very fast in short bursts and dodge and twist to escape predators – jumping, rearing up – a hay wall will encourage them stretch up, which is good for strengthening their bones and ligaments – as well as opportunities for foraging and digging. A digging box filled with soil or compost provides a safe space to dig without the risk of escaping or ruining your garden.
DID YOU KNOW?
It’s much easier to enable pet rabbits to get all the exercise they need if their run is permanently attached to their hutch, so they can come and go as they please. Rabbits are ‘crepuscular’, which means they are most active at dawn and dusk – so lifting them from hutch to run for a few hours in the daytime just doesn’t suit their body clocks and instincts.
- PROVIDE FUN THINGS TO DO Rabbits are intelligent and curious creatures and it’s important to give them things to do to keep them busy throughout the day. Providing enrichment in their housing is a great way to keep them entertained. There’s lots of toys for rabbits available online and in pet shops – it’s all about finding what your bunnies prefer. Some commonly loved toys include willow balls, puzzle feeders, snuffle mats and cardboard loo rolls – simply place some healthy rabbit treats or tasty forage and some of their daily ration of rabbit nuggets inside any of these to get those bunny brains working and to make feeding time fun.
This years' Rabbit Awareness Week 2023 (RAW) is all about Neutering: Protect and Prevent. Make sure you don't miss out on RAW 2023 by registering for your free pack >>
Would you like to help all pet rabbits to have better lives? The Rabbit Awareness Action Group is fighting for rabbit welfare. Join us, and sign our letter of support >>
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