The general rule when choosing a living environment for your rabbits is the bigger the better. The charity Rabbit Welfare recommends that a rabbit's hutch should be at least 6ft by 6ft square and at least 3ft tall to allow your rabbit to run, hop and sprawl out. He should also be able to stretch up on his hind legs without his ears touching the top of the enclosure.
Your rabbit should have free access to a run at all times, attached to the hutch. The run will mean your rabbit has space to run about freely while a hutch will provide somewhere for your rabbit to rest and shelter. Rabbits are most active from early evening into the night and early in the morning so the best care scenario is for your rabbit to have constant access to both the hutch and run at all times.
You can be creative with what you use for your rabbit's hutch — it doesn't have to a be a typical hutch. An old wendy house or garden shed with a cat flap attaching it to a run could also be used, as long as it is safe from predators and secure to prevent escape.
Your rabbit's enclosure should be placed in a quiet area of the garden, out of direct sunlight. Remember too, that your rabbit will need the company of another rabbit in order to stay happy so you will need to be able to offer space for two rabbits.
Enriching your rabbit's environment
Use your rabbit's food to make his environment more enriched. Place it up high in holders and hanging baskets so that he needs to stretch up to eat, and scatter food so that your rabbit has to work for his food. Puzzle feeders are also available. You can also make a hay kebab using toilet rolls to make food more interesting.
Tunnels mimic a rabbit run in the wild and are fun for your rabbit to run through. You can even use tunnels to connect the hutch to the run or even to a couple of smaller runs. This is particularly useful if you are limited on space. Place logs around the enclosure for him to hop on and off, he will also enjoy chewing the bark which will in turn be good for his teeth. Use your imagination to provide interesting places for your rabbit to hide. Pretty much anything you can find can be used including buckets, off-cuts of drainpipe and even cardboard boxes. Trays filled with soil will provide somewhere for your rabbit to dig.
Try to ensure that you keep your rabbit's environment varied and interesting. Change the layout of the enclosure regularly when you clean your rabbit out and introduce new items regularly.
Can you litter train a rabbit?
Yes. Litter training your rabbit can be useful in order to help keep his environment clean and tidy and is pretty easy to do, even more so if your rabbit is neutered.
Watch out for where your rabbit most often toilets and then place a litter tray filled with shredded paper in that area. Placing a small amount of your rabbit's soiled bedding may also encourage your rabbit to use the area. Unlike cats and dogs, rabbits will eat while they are toileting so providing plenty of hay or grass in the area will encourage your rabbit to toilet there.
Choosing bedding for your rabbit
The charity Wood Green recommends bedding your rabbit down on hay. A rabbit will often attempt to eat his own bedding so using something that is safe to ingest is the safest option. It is also less likely to cause irritation than something like wood shavings. Good-quality dust extracted straw can also be used. Remember: green hay is safe hay!
Can you keep a rabbit indoors?
Rabbits can live indoors all the time or be brought inside for winter if needed. They will still require a large amount of space to play in as well as a secure, quiet area for resting. It may be best to try to 'rabbit-proof' an entire room, removing all wires and possible poisonous plants. You can also use a large puppy play pen, remember though that the same amount of space will be needed indoors as your rabbit has outdoors, with all the necessary enrichment too. Access to a good supply of fresh air is essential too. You can provide fresh growing grass in planted trays for your rabbit to nibble on and even plant up herb tubs for him to explore.
Cleaning out hutches and rabbit runs
A clean environment is vital for good rabbit health — a damp, wet environment can cause health and mobility issues in your rabbit. Spot cleaning the hutch every day will make the task easier and keep your rabbit's environment in better condition. Every day you should remove uneaten fresh food and any wet or soiled hay; wash out and refill water bowls; spot clean the litter tray if your rabbit is using one and also spot clean any other soiled areas of the run or hutch.
Once a week you should empty, wash out and replace all the litter in the litter tray (if using one); wash any accessories and toys in the environment and add new enrichment items; wash down any surfaces that can be washed with hot water; wash out water and food bowls; and replace all the bedding.