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 |



Flystrike – A Gross and Killer Disease


This is an issue that is definitely related to any discussion of rabbit hutches. Flystrike is a frankly horrific disease which rabbits are particularly prone to. Any rabbit affected by it should be rushed to the vets as it’s 100% an emergency and can kill untreated. This article aims to briefly explain what it is, when it happens, tips for prevention and what to do if you suspect it. You should get an idea of the territory that could save your rabbit’s life.

What Is Flystrike?

It happens when flies lay eggs onto the rabbit’s skin, usually around the anus or sometimes the feet. The eggs hatch rapidly, possibly within an hour or two, into fly maggots. The maggots then need something to eat – and start to eat into the rabbit’s skin. As if this wasn’t bad enough, this action means they give the rabbit diseases, which can become serious or kill if untreated. Flies laying eggs in this way is a serious problem – and it happens more in some places than others.

in the shade by lusi

When Does It Happen Most?

The link is simple – hot weather, more flies, more flystrike. So if you live somewhere there are plenty of flies, be super aware. However, don’t assume it’s just an issue for folks who live in sunny climes, even in places like the UK with its notoriously understated summers, flies can and do still attack. It also affects guinea pigs, but is most associated with rabbits. Knowing the danger season can help, as can some preventative measures all year round.

Prevention Tips

Hang a fly-strip near the hutch – but not anywhere your bunny or other pets could have a go at nibbling it (yeuch- not to mention danger from the chemicals). Cleaning the hutch is a must, do it daily because flies are attracted to urine soaked and dropping-clad fur and hutch materials. You can ask vets to recommend a safe disinfectant cleaner for the hutch. They can also recommend specially formulated products which you apply to the rabbit to directly guard it – NEVER use household fly sprays or human insect repellents for rabbits or their houses, cages, runs or materials in them. A diet very rich in grass may cause softer, prolific droppings which attract flies. Check rabbits at least twice daily, especially feet and rear ends. Ask your vet if they have any extra tips. If you’ve done all the prevention methods you can find, but you still suspect flystrike, this is time to drop everything and take the rabbit straight to the vet.

slain syrphid fly by hejboel

Suspected Or Actual Flystrike

If you find any sore patches, or see maggots or strange looking little patches on your rabbits skin, the safest advice is rush it to the vets. You can remove maggots but we recommend getting the vet to do it – they’re very experienced, can give your rabbit a calming sedative – (and are frankly speaking much more likely to be calm than any of us here would be faced with maggots on our bunnies) making it a less harrowing procedure for the rabbit. They can treat the condition swiftly, calmly and administer any necessary antibiotics and provide good advice.

medical care by egahen

Flystrike is horrible but can be dealt with. Its usually green bottles, although other flies will have a go as well (1). Getting on top of the situation is essential and good hutch hygiene goes a long way towards this.

IMPORTANT: Please only see your vet if you have any concerns about rabbit care – this isn’t intended for diagnosis or treatment advice and can’t replace a vet’s expertise under any circumstances. Many thanks.

Kim Wryall

References

Galens Garden. Fly strike (Myiasis) [online]. Available at:

http://www.galensgarden.co.uk/herbivores/health/flystrike.php

Photo Credits

Sunny day with parasol http://www.sxc.hu/profile/lusi Fly http://www.sxc.hu/profile/hejboel Thermomiter and pills http://www.sxc.hu/profile/Egahen

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Categories: Flystrike | Author: admin | Comments: 102 Comments |


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