Thought needs to be put into how you house your rabbit, to keep them happy and healthy.
The hutch should be easily cleaned, dry and draught free. Rabbits will gnaw on their cage so ensure it is made of non-toxic material! While wood is often used to form the hutch, it can be difficult to keep clean. Any open sides to the hutch should be made of strong wire; a secure fastening will be required on the door Many hutches are too small for a rabbit’s proper comfort.
Whenever possible a hutch should be large enough for a rabbit to lie stretched out, to hop three or four times from one side of the hutch to another, and to stretch fully upright without hindrance. Elevate the hutch off the ground and place it where the rabbit can get sun in either the morning and evening but is provided with shade in the middle of the day.
Without sunlight on the skin the rabbit cannot manufacture Vitamin D, ; this can worsen the effect of any dietary deficiencies of calcium. Provide an area where the rabbit can hide from view if he so chooses; given the opportunity rabbits enjoy hiding inside lengths of subsoil drainage pipe (110mm/4 ½ inches diameter min.). Extra insulation around the hutch during bad weather keeps the rabbit happy and warm in its sleeping area. A plastic tray or liner in the bottom of the hutch is easy to clean – once a week the tray should be cleaned with a pet-friendly cleaning agent and rinsed well. Bedding can be straw or shavings, wire flooring can provoke ulcers on the rabbits hind-feet. Rabbits can quickly be trained to use a litter tray making cleaning much easier. Rabbits need to stretch their legs, run and jump. Without exercise they become bored, depressed and overweight and are prone to osteoporosis.
Grooming becomes more difficult when they are fat and this increases the likelihood of fly strike. Provide the biggest hutch and run you can. If space is limited you can construct a two or three story apartment with well-secured ramps to increase living space. An outdoor rabbit should be secured in its hutch at night when predators are most common. Always supervise your rabbit when it is playing outdoors. Check the garden for poisonous plants and for holes under the fence. Female bunnies will burrow beneath fences in a flash!
Rabbits can make excellent indoor pets but you must bunny-proof the environment to prevent damage to your property. They love to chew skirting boards, chair legs, carpets and houseplants. Telephone wires and TV cables are irresistible! Providing them with a piece of root vegetable, edible wood, or cardboard is an excellent alternative! In addition we can supply safe pet repellents such as bitter apple to deter your rabbit. Rabbits generally sleep during the day and play at dawn and twilight.
They mark their territory by leaving secretions from their chin gland on prominent objects around them and on each other. Their urine and droppings are also important in marking their territory. Rabbits can be litter trained by placing a litter tray next to a rabbit’s food dish. The rabbit will often sit in the tray to defecate and urinate soon after eating. Putting a few droppings in the tray may help the rabbit get used to the idea. The tray should not be covered (or it may think it is a burrow and not want to defecate there) and litter should be non-toxic, dust free and absorbent. Clumping and clay based litter is not recommended. Urine is usually cloudy due to large quantities of calcium and phosphorus and can sometimes appear to be red if it contains porphyrins (iron compounds). And remember that should you see your rabbits eating some of its droppings that this is a normal part of the digestive process.