Many rabbit owners automatically place their rabbit hutch in the garden, or outdoor space, thinking this is a good environment for them. Experts in rabbit care give many cautions on using rabbit hutches outdoors , for practical health reasons. This article explores the ideal temperatures for their health, whether to house them in the garage or garden and whether the local climate is dangerous for them or not. This should help give you some guidelines for whether or not your rabbit is really suited to outdoor hutch living.
Over heating and over cooling dangers
Paradoxically, although bunnies are often seen in garden hutches, they actually can’t handle temperatures which are too hot or too cold. Their body temperature is 38.6-39.4 C in good health (1) and they need to have a cosy hutch to prevent them getting too cold – in essence, they’re hardy, but not that hardy (1, 2, 3) . Place the hutch out of the wind or draughts, and attach thick canvas to lower over the hutch as a night-time cover, and line it with substantial layers of newspaper plus untreated soft wood shavings on top for warmth. Move the hutch to the shade in hot weather. Keep the temperature ambient – some owners put the hutch in the garage instead to try to avoid extremely hot or cold conditions.
In colder weather, or even all year round, some try the garage. This has some advantages – it’s out of the biting winds and probably warmer than outside. However, it can still be cold and there may be fumes from the car to content with. If your garage is used for DIY projects, you need to be careful not to make your bunny breathe in fumes from any solvents or other chemicals you’ve been using. Your bunny may also get lonely in there with just the car for company. It all needs to be cosy as if it was outdoors, away from fumes and as naturally sociable animals, you may find your rabbit or rabbits crave company. Gardens may provide your rabbit with more company but hutches there need to be especially prepared for safety.
A sloping roof will help slough off rain but check nonetheless for mildew or mould formation. Part of the world of the garden is definitely predators, such as the urban fox. You need a very sturdy hutch to keep them out. Make sure the mesh on the front of the hutch is especially strong and exceptionally well attached. Predators such as rats are a reason to keep the hutch off the ground as well as damp. Even if predators don’t get in, bunnies have died of fright during predator attacks (2). An outdoor hutch must keep predators, rain and damp out, but may go a step closer to providing stimulation.
There are pros and cons to keeping the rabbit hutch outdoors or in the garage. Some owners simply opt to put the hutch in their house or in a porch where the door can be open to the house for more social contact. Although rabbits need their run in the daytime, at night, they must NEVER be left in an outdoor or garage run – this simply invites predators. Whilst many advice pages still talk about outdoor hutches, the safest possible option it is to ditch the traditional outdoor life and bring them in to rule out wild predator attack, bearing in mind indoor safety requirements too.
1. EASE. The EASE Guide to Caring for RABBITS [online]. Available at:
2. House Rabbit Society. FAQ: Housing. [online]. Available at:
Photo credits -fantastic photos by:
Blue eyed rabbit http://www.sxc.hu/profile/ijansempoi Garage – did you notice the missing staircase for the red door? http://www.sxc.hu/profile/steve-oh Fox http://www.sxc.hu/profile/Bully27
Tags:bunny, garage, garden, garden hutches, hutch, pet stores, predators, rabbit care, rabbit hutch, rabbit hutches
Categories: Outdoor Hutches
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Increasingly the trend in rabbit care is to keep the rabbit hutch indoors. This may reflect greater increases in urban predators attacking outdoor rabbit hutches such as the urban fox. It’s also probably due to greater access to information easily available on you home PC more recently. Owners may be choosing to house indoors also have a much greater array of products from pet stores to help them these days. This article aims to explore whether you can reasonably keep a rabbit indoors for your sake and theirs, the advantages of it and what you need to do if you want them to have the run of part of your home to protect it and them.
Is It Really Normal to Keep Them Indoors?
Rabbit hutches can be reasonably placed indoors without creating too much disturbance for your home environment. If you’re worried about a smelly hutch, good rabbit care involves cleaning the hutch daily in any case, which should prevent unpleasant odours. (It may be the case that the ‘rabbit hutch’ smell we remember from our childhoods was to do with damp hutches outside in any case?). In terms of normal, it certainly wouldn’t be out of step, as it’s defiantly a trend – with many people opting to allow their rabbits part of the house to roam freely in at some point during the day. So you can feel confident it’s not going to give you too many social problems, there should be no smell and it’s quite the modern way to do it these days.
What About Letting Them Run Free?
Some owners do this, the plus sides are fantastic interaction with your pet, to help the bonding process – for kids too, it can be more rewarding to feel that their bunny has a relationship with them. You may also find having them in the hutch and free running at times in the house helps you monitor for illness. A very humanist perspective is most people would like to do the right thing by their pets but they lead busy lives – perhaps simply having the rabbit around while you do the chores an easier way here. Free running has many advantages but you need some tips on rabbit-proofing the home before you attempt it.
Chew, chomp, chew, nom….DANGER!!!
Move any electrical wires. Many bunnies have been fatally electrocuted by chewing electrical wires. You can buy tough vinyl tubing from a hardware store to house the wires in so they can’t get at them (1). In fact, anything they can chew could cause injury – as they chew, little parts can be created. This can ‘poke’ them both inside and out! You also want to keep curtains/drapes, hanging bedspreads, precious fabrics – not to mention the paper or plastic folders from your briefcase- well out of nibbling reach. Some household plants are poisons to them – keep all plants well away from them just in case (2). Once you’ve eliminated these hazards and protected your furnishings, think who else is around in the home.
Nom, nom, nom... ANYTHING I Can...
Pets and Kids
Although cats, dogs and other pets may seem to get along just fine with Mr Bunny-Kins, never leave them unsupervised. Bunnies scurry about and this could excite a pet to ‘play’ or attack, causing injury or stress. No-one’s being naughty as such, this is what many breeds of dog, for example, were originally bred to do! Kids aren’t born with animal skills, they need you to teach them good handling – rabbits can suffer crippling injuries if inappropriately picked up or accidentally dropped. Again, no-one’s naughty here – kids ‘love’ their teddies – and you – by cuddling, they just need your tuition as to how to do it properly. NEVER lift a rabbit by the ears, this has caused major injuries. Having placed firm boundaries on the other pets and kids in the house, think about what your bunny might be coming into contact with.
Some household chemicals used to clean furnishings may be toxic to rabbits – if they choose to chew on the furnishings (2). You may find it useful to distract them by providing safe chewing toys for them – even a cardboard box full of hay will do (1).
Living more closely with your rabbit might help you spot life threatening diseases – did you know that if a bunny sneezes, it may have a condition that could lead to pneumonia? Younger rabbits under 1 year old usually need a closer eye kept on them for chewing, etc than older rabbits do but still, take no chances. There are, as explained, some distinct advantages that may fit in well with modern urban living – more foxes being around (or other predators, depending on your location), and having an easier way to interact with your bunny if you can’t spend long periods in your garden.
1. House Rabbit Society. Living with a House Rabbit [online]. Available from:
2. ASPCA [online] Animal Poison Control Centre [online]. Available at:
Photo Credits – fantastic photos by:
Rabbit on blue blanket http://www.sxc.hu/profile/abigail Bunny with mirror http://www.sxc.hu/profile/arancia Chewing bunny- did you see what he’s done to that carrot? http://www.sxc.hu/profile/kirsche222 Black and white duvet-hogging bunny http://www.sxc.hu/profile/baron_bart
Tags:bunny, chewing electrical wires, diseases, free running, house indoors, hutch, injuries, kids, pet stores, pets, plants, poisons, predators, rabbit care, rabbit hutch, rabbit hutches, rabbit supplies, rabbit-proofing
Categories: Indoor Hutches
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As well as spacious rabbit hutches, bunnies also need to get out and about outside the hutch to get exposure to sunlight to create vitamin D, which they need for good health (1). They also must have daily exercise – many people don’t realise the amazing truth about those small furry friends. Think of them like a small dog – well, that’s how much exercise they need every day (2). In many ways, they are not really a domestic animal – their behavioural patterns are still very much wild. have you ever seen a hare racing across a field? Rabbits really need to be able to run freely to feel contented and this brings us on to the topic of space.
How Big Should It Be?
Since bunnies range on average from 1kg tiddlers to 10kg whoppers, there is no standard measurement in feet or meters for how much space they must have. One idea for their housing was for it to be at the very least four times as big as each bunny. This gives you some clue as to how big the rabbit run should be – yes, make it as beautifully enormous as you can possibly get it. The point is to get them out to exercise, if its only as big as their house or not much bigger, you will have wasted your money and time. It’s cost-effective to build one, there are some great bigger sizes in some pet stores but they can be expensive. Once you’re created a large space that you’re sure they can sprint about in, its vital to make sure it’s as safe as possible.
How To install It For Safety – Top Tips
If you run is outdoors, it should be sunk into the ground – bunnies of course burrow – and could well form an escape committee by tunnelling their way out (3)! As with the hutch check there’s nothing sharp poking out of the frame or mesh and attach a drip-feed water bottle. Be aware of who else uses the garden or house – other pets could frighten the rabbit by trying to play or worse still, trying to attack – think how greyhounds learn to race by chasing a symbolic ‘rabbit’ around the track. Cats are also notorious for perversely choosing the run roof as the prefect sunlouging spot and any predatory pet (snakes, for example) may also see your loved on as a little fluffy eyed cheeseburger. Don’t leave kids unsupervised – they may be perfectly loving in their intention to cuddle bunny or give him their sweeties – but poor handling techniques and feeding could injure your rabbit greatly. For everyone’s sake, make the run escape proof, predator proof, child proof and with water, without sharp edges and then think carefully about where you’re going to put it.
Where To Put The Run
Some chemicals for garden treatment or home cleaning are poisons for pets (4). Plants to be aware of in this category include chrysanthemums, cowslips, geraniums, clematis, poppies, ivy, hemlock, laburnum, laurel, yuccas (5), buttercups and certain species of lilies. If you are using it outdoors, move it around regularly so your bunny can munch on fresh grass each day (and your lawn survives better). Don’t put it over or right next to electrical wiring, for example, cabling for a pond fountain – rabbits chew indiscriminately and many have died through electrocution from chewing electrical wires. So think poisons, grass freshness, and chew patrol – anything they can chew has the potential to cause injuries through small parts poking their bodies – on the skin or in their gastro-intestinal systems.
Buttercups contain an acid which may harm bunnies
Sadly, it isn’t quite as simple as getting any old commercially sold run although it really should be. Size, safety and location is essential to create that stimulating and liberating exercise run they desperately need daily. You can enrich the run with rabbit toys, tasty treats and little hiding places. These tips can stop you spending money on a run that is too small and instead create a safe, healthy haven that will enhance your rabbit’s health – you will literally change their whole world for the better.
1. BVA. Animal Welfare Foundation. Day to Day Rabbit Care [online]. Available at:
2. RSPCA. Pet care – Ten things you may not know about rabbits [online]. Available at:
3. RSPCA. Pet Care – Learn more [online]. Available at:
4. ASPCA [online] Animal Poison Control Centre [online]. Available at:
5. EASE. The EASE Guide to Caring for RABBITS [online]. Available at:
Photo Credits – great photos by:
Blue eyed rabbit http://www.sxc.hu/profile/Novablue Brown and white rabbit http://www.sxc.hu/profile/valcore45 Buttercup flower http://www.sxc.hu/profile/Poofy
Tags:bunny, chewing electrical wires, escape, exercise, house, hutch, hutches, injuries, kids, pet stores, pets, plants, poisons, predators, rabbit care, rabbit run, saftey- top tips
Categories: Rabbit Run Info
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