Indoors or Outdoors?
Many people think of rabbits as livestock that belong outside. This is not the case! Domestic rabbits are extremely vulnerable to extreme temperatures, disease, parasites, and predators. Did you know that a rabbit can literally be scared to death by a predator? In addition, rabbits are very social and enjoy being around their people. Rabbits in outdoor hutches are forgotten, lonely, and often die of illnesses that are not caught in time.
Rocky Mountain House Rabbit Rescue requires that all adopters house their rabbits indoors. This does not mean a garage or outdoor shed. It means inside the house as part of the family. Ideally, their habitat should be placed where the family spends a lot of time – such as a family room or kitchen.
When people new to rabbits think of housing for their bunnies, the first thing that comes to mind is a pet store cage or hutch. What most people don’t know is that these types of enclosures are far too small to house even one adult rabbit (even a dwarf breed). Rabbits need room to run and hop and stretch and a hutch is not enough. Many commercially hutches and cages also have grated flooring (designed for urine and feces to drop into a pan). This is not healthy for delicate rabbit feet. Rabbits need a solid floor and soft surfaces, otherwise they may develop foot problems. Litter trained rabbits do not need grated flooring.
Rocky Mountain House Rabbit Rescue will not accept a commercial cage or hutch as primary housing. These types can be used as an addition to a pen-type habitat, but it must not be used as primary housing that the rabbit is enclosed in for any amount of time. The primary living space must be at least 4’x4’. Bigger is always better.
The types of housing that RMHRR recommends:
Free roam (all areas accessible to the bunnies must be bunny-proofed)
Puppy exercise pens
"Build your own” pen with storage cube grids
“Clearly Loved Pets” acrylic pens (pricey, but aesthetically pleasing)
The internet is full of ideas! Google things like “rabbit x-pen housing” or “rabbit NIC housing” to bring up some ideas. It’s fun to design and decorate your bunnies’ home!
Your bunnies’ habitat should contain some basic necessities. First, your bunny will need somewhere to go to the bathroom! You will need a litter box large enough for your bunnies to lay down and snuggle in. Regular cat litter boxes are fine for smaller bunnies. Cement mixing pans from hardware stores work well for larger breeds. Place rabbit-safe litter and a layer of hay in the box. Rabbits feel much safer when they have a place to hide. You’ll need to include a hidey-box for them. They will also need food bowls, a heavy water dish (not a bottle), and of course a variety of toys! Bunnies will also need time to roam outside of their habitat each day, so prepare a bunny-proofed area for your bunnies to play in for several hours each day.