by John Woods
Getting a rabbit home as a pet is all fun and exciting. But the real work starts after that.
The first and foremost thing that you need to get ready for your pet rabbit is its home – the cage or hutch or playpen or nesting boxes.
When choosing a home for your rabbit, you have to remember that it is not a one-size-fits-all situation. The amount of space a rabbit will need depends heavily on their size as well as their personality.
Some breeds of rabbit are smaller in size, such as mini lops and dwarves, while others are bigger like Californian or Flemish Giants. Moreover, if your bunny is more active and tends to move around a lot in its cage or hutch, it is better to get them a bigger home as well.
What size cage or hutch should you get?
You should never confine a rabbit to its cage or hutch and let them out regularly for hopping, running, and exercising/ However, that is the place they will spend a majority of their day’s time.
On an average, the cage or hutch should be 3-4 times bigger than your bunny’s size. Even if you get them as a kitten, there is no point in getting a smaller one as your bunny will definitely outgrow it.
Inside the cage or hutch, there should be separate corners for sleeping, eating, hiding, and going to the toilet. To make space for all of that – the bedding, the feeding and water bowls, the litter tray, etc. – an average rabbit hutch should be of 12 square feet in area minimum. Also, it should have adequate height so that the rabbit can stand up on the hind legs without its head touching the roof.
There should be enough space inside the hutch for the rabbit to take 3-4 hops comfortably.
A rabbit hutch is not enough for a house bunny. If you cannot afford the space it is completely understandable. But if possible, keep the hutch or the cage in a bigger enclosure where your rabbit can run around, exercise, and do their digging.
Some pet owners keep the hutch and the enclosure separate and connect the two with a rabbit tunnel to give the bunnies an experience of running through a burrow.
In either case, the exercise enclosure should be around 30-36 square feet in area, and provided with tunnels, mazes, and toys for your bunny’s exercise and stimulation.
Let your bunnies out of their hutches
Do remember that bunnies do not like being in their cages 24 hours a day. It is not good for them. So you need to let them out once a while and allow them to play outside.
No matter how many toys you provide them with within the cage, they will not be satisfied with it and will eventually be bored of all these.
Bunnies are used to playing outside. If you keep them caged in, it will not be good for their health or even their well-being. Bunnies sleep during the night and take naps during the day, but they are the most active during dusk and dawn. These hours of the day are their playtimes.
Bunnies that do not get enough playtime outside their exercise pen often develop muscle atrophy. If you cannot supervise them all day long, you can at least provide a safe space for them. The more you let them play around the place, the more joyful your bunny will be.
Can rabbits roam free around the house?
Even if you provide all that a bunny needs inside its hutch, you should definitely let them out and not just for exercise. Allow them to explore the house and garden while keeping an eye out at them. Remember to rabbit-proof your house beforehand.
You need to make your house safe for your bunny to play around without any supervision. It is recommended that you do not introduce your bunny to this free lifestyle immediately when you bring him home, rather first use a pen. This will help you keep your bunny from littering and also stop him from causing any trouble around the house.
Before you let them roam around the house, remove any and all items from their reach which can be damaged by their digging and chewing, or which can be harmful for them if ingested. For example, remove house plants, sharp objects, important papers and documents away from their reach.
Can you let your rabbit roam free outside?
It is not recommended to let your rabbit loose outside your house, especially without supervision. Since there are a lot of predators around, it will be extremely risky for the bunnies.
Cats, dogs, raccoons, foxes, etc can stalk and hunt down your rabbit. The neighbor’s cat or dog can attack your bunny as well. Moreover, loud noises or unfamiliar environments can be detrimental to the weak hearts of rabbits and cause cardiac arrest.
To Sum Up
Your rabbit needs space, but so much that you need to let them outdoors like dogs. They do not need walking on the streets. Rabbits will be perfectly happy and healthy indoors as long as they get enough space to play, exercise, and hop around to their hearts’ delight.
If you are still confused about how much space to spare for your bunny, do some digging into pet-related information, or better still, consult a vet.