Keeping Rabbits

Rabbits need a large weatherproof home that is raised off the ground. Their hutch should be big enough to allow them to lie down and stretch out comfortably in all directions, tall enough for them to stand up on their back legs without their ears touching the top, and long enough to allow at least three hops. A suggested minimum size for most rabbits is 6ft x 2ft x 2ft high.

Rabbits runs
rabbit hutchIn the wild, rabbits have a home territory the size of 30 tennis courts! So, to get enough exercise, pet rabbits should have as much space as possible.

A large run on a grassy area will help ensure they get enough exercise. This must be escape-proof, safe from predators and offer some protection against direct sunlight and strong winds. They need an indoor run in cold weather. Ideally, their run should be attached to the hutch so that the rabbits can exercise whenever they want to. It should be tall enough to allow the rabbits to stretch up to full height and they should be able to run, rather than just hop. A suggested minimum size of run for most rabbits is 8ft x 4ft x 2ft high.

rabbit run with tubesIn the winter, if it gets very cold, the hutch may have to be moved into an outhouse or car-free garage (car-free because exhaust fumes can be fatal). Rabbits can also suffer from heatstroke, so in hot weather move the hutch and run into shaded areas.

The hutch should be lined with newspaper or clean woodshavings, with soft hay or straw on top. The sleeping area should contain clean, dry hay or straw as bedding.

Cleaning them out
The hutch should be cleaned at least once a day, by removing any shavings or bedding that are wet and dirty, removing any uneaten fresh food and cleaning the food and water containers before refilling them. You also need to clean the hutch more thoroughly to keep it clean and hygienic – once a week is usually adequate.

From time-to-time the hutch should be completely stripped out and scrubbed, with your rabbits only being allowed back into the hutch when it is completely dry.

Hazards and poisons to watch out for
Cute bunnieEnsure the hutch and run are escape-proof and safe from predators such as dogs, cats, foxes, rats, and birds of prey. Indoors, rabbits will chew through electric cables, so don’t let rabbits have access to these.

The following is a list of plants that are poisonous to rabbits. There are many others not on this list, so don’t let your rabbits go near plants or flowerbeds if you are not sure whether they might contain poisonous plants, or if they might have been sprayed with herbicides or pesticides.


  • All plants that grow from bulbs
  • Amaryllis
  • Bracken
  • Elder
  • Foxglove
  • Lily of the Valleyy
  • Laburnum
  • Most evergreens
  • Oak eaves
  • Privet
  • Ragwort
  • Rhubarb leaves
  • Yew

Keeping more than one rabbit
Rabbits are very social animals and need the company of other rabbits. If kept on their own, they become stressed, and their behaviour may change as a result of this. Think about wild rabbits that you see in fields; they are almost never on their own. Rabbits get lonely.

rabbits-and-guineapigs-togetherThe best combination is usually a neutered male with a neutered female. Un-neutered males and females shouldn’t be kept together, as they will breed and it can be difficult to find homes for the young.

If they aren’t neutered, female rabbits reach sexual maturity between 4 and 5 months of age and male rabbits reach sexual maturity between 5 and 8 months of age. Smaller breeds may reach sexual maturity earlier than larger breeds. It is strongly recommended that you neuter your rabbits.

Guinea pig and rabbits
Rabbits and guinea pigs shouldn’t be kept together as rabbits can bully and injure guinea pigs and they both need company from their own kind.


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