The Secrets Pet Stores Won’t Reveal About Rabbit Hutches


Welcome to rabbithutchesadvice.com. Experts believe rabbits are the third most popular pet in the UK today (1). Sadly the hutches sold in many stores are not right for rabbits daily health needs. Find out why they need specific hutches or houses, what they need inside them, how long they should stay in them and where to put the hutch. By the time you have read this page, you should know the basics for getting your rabbit the hutch it deserves – animal charities are emphatic bad housing is a major cause of illness in rabbits.

rabbit by marnixbras

How Big Should It Be?

Although the size of bunnies varies enormously, from 1 to 10 kg, all rabbits have the same basic need – plenty, plenty of space.

They must have enough space in their hutch to be able to sit up on their back legs and stretch out according to one fact sheet (1) – but we think (and we know the charity does too) they should really have more – at the very least enough to be able to hop three times (2). When you buy or build your hutch, consider the age of the rabbit. How much is going to grow – the tiny baby rabbit that will fit through the door of a store bought ‘starter pack’ cage will quickly become dangerously cramped in it. Since their size varies, its hard to give a minimum standards size, but one useful guideline was 4 times the size of your bunny – at the very very least (3). And the guideline also stated if the rabbit is in the hutch for long periods, you must must make it bigger than that. Can they sit up, stretch, move comfortably without squishing into bowls, drinking bottles, toys, their sleeping and litterbox areas and the wire of the hutch. We’re going to quote from the UK’s Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (RSPCA) here – “Many homes sold in pet shops are too small” (4). So an absolute must is a big, big hutch, which needs certain features inside it.

Many store cages are too small

Many store cages are too small

Interior Design

OK, so this is a bit of a comedy title for this section – rabbits are unlikely to demand a change of wallpaper, but they do have special needs for interior design to keep them happy. Divide the hutch at least into 2 sections to give them a separate sleeping area. That’s one for each rabbit – they need this to exhibit natural behavioural patterns and not feel stressed. The hutch needs very strong wire mesh at the front, to provide air and a window-view but you need to watch out for rough pieces of exposed cut wire ends. The bottom of the hutch should NEVER be wire – this is not good for their feet or stress levels. Use a different design or at the very least – be wary of adapting a wire hutch with newspaper, due to the danger of flystrike (click on the Flystrike page on the left). They need a litter area as they use one place only to go to the toilet – back to space again, make sure they’re not sitting in their toilet all day and night. Having sorted out the basics of interior design, you need some rabbit supplies to go in it.

Wire cage floors should be avoided

Wire cage floors should be avoided

Basic Rabbit Supplies For The Hutch

You need a drip-feed water bottle attached securely to the mesh, so there is ALWAYS fresh water available. Toys help dental health – their teeth constantly grow and gnawing on toys stops overgrowth (which a vet would need to correct). Toys to prevent boredom are also good – roll around toys such as balls or rings. Ask your vet to recommend a brand – sadly, information from animal charities indicate not all toys sold for small animals are actually suitable or safe. A hayrack will stop hay supplies being trampled on. Of course you’ll need a food bowl – ceramic or stainless steel ones are best if you are concerned about plastics which main contain Bisephanol A, banned in baby products in some countries (5). Lay a layer of untreated, organic litter shavings made for rabbits on the bottom of the hutch and give them soft hay without rough stalk ends or unbleached shredded paper/paper towels for bedding.

Providing The Perfect Hutch

Rabbits need space, a separate sleeping area, water, bedding, a litter box are and toys. You’ll still need a rabbit run for daily exercise outside the hutch. Rabbits can’t make vitamin D without sunlight and also need to stretch their long long legs to prevent them becoming bored, stressed and overweight. This article provides the basics of hutch design, to find out more about enrichment and providing the perfect hutch, click on the links on your right.

Make their home a real haven

Make their home a real haven

Mike Holby

References:

1. BVA Animal Welfare Foundation. Day to Day Rabbit Care [online]. Available at:

http://www.bva-awf.org.uk/pet/buying/rabbit.asp

2. EASE. The EASE Guide to Caring for RABBITS [online]. Available at:

http://www.link2content.co.uk/uploads/bva/rabbit.pdf

3. House Rabbit Society. FAQ: Housing [online]. Available at:

http://www.rabbit.org/faq/sections/housing.html

4. RSPCA. Pet care – Rabbits [online]. Available at:

http://www.rspca.org.uk/servlet/Satellite?pagename=RSPCA/RSPCARedirect&pg=RabbitsPetCare

5. Health Canada.(2008) Government of Canada Protects Families With Bisphenol A Regulations. [online]. Government of Canada. Available at:

http://www.hc-sc.gc.ca/ahc-asc/media/nr-cp/_2008/2008_167-eng.php

Photo Credits – fantastic photos by:

Young rabbit, top of page http://www.sxc.hu/profile/marnixbras Little boy looking at rabbits in cages http://www.sxc.hu/profile/jwarletta Rabbit on wire cage floor http://www.sxc.hu/profile/aesthete Rabbit on straw http://www.sxc.hu/profile/charmax

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Categories: Hutch Design Basics | Author: admin | Comments: 65 Comments |

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