Housing for rabbits
Before getting a rabbit, it's important to think about where your rabbits will live and whether you have enough space.
Your rabbits' house, such as a run and hutch, is one of the most important factors in making sure they're happy and healthy.
They'll need lots of space and need to be kept in pairs or groups. Otherwise, they can get lonely and depressed, and even develop health problems.
How much space do rabbits need?
Rabbits needs access to lots of space all the time. As we don't recommend keeping only one rabbit, two rabbits should have a minimum area that's three metres by two metres, and at least one metre high.
They'll also need a sheltered area, like a hutch, that's at least six feet by two feet by two feet. This can be inside or permanently attached to the larger area (three metres by two metres by one metre).
If you have more than two rabbits or giant breeds then you'll need a bigger space.
Why do rabbits need so much space?
Rabbits are very active, like their wild rabbit counterparts. They need lots of room to jump, stretch, dig, hop, run and ‘binky’ (this is when a rabbit jumps in the air while shaking their head and twisting their bodies, an absolute expression of joy) to avoid getting frustrated, depressed and even developing health problems.
They're also crepuscular, which means they are most active during dawn and dusk, and at certain periods during the night. This is why they need access to a large space at all times, rather than just during the day.
Where can my rabbits live?
Most rabbits can live happily indoors and outdoors. The main thing is that they have enough space and that the area is safe.
Outdoor housing for rabbits
- a large hutch attached to a large outdoor rabbit run
- a shed or large children's playhouse connected to a large outdoor run attached
- an aviary, with a shelter attached or which sits inside
Rabbit runs and hutches
A run will need to be at least three metres by two metres, by one meter high and they'll need access to this space at all times. It will also need to be predator-proof so foxes and other animals cannot get in.
Rabbits like to dig so you'll also need to make sure they can't get out!
Your rabbits will also need a covered area like a traditional hutch (at least six feet by two feet by two feet) to act as a bedroom. Rabbits are prey animals so, although they need lots of space to run around, they'll also need somewhere to hide away if needed, to sleep or when it's cold.
If you are using a traditional hutch as a shelter it will need:
- to be raised off the ground
- to have a waterproof roof
- at least two rooms so their food and water can be separate from their sleeping area
- solid floors (not wire as this will be painful for your rabbit's feet)
- to be placed in the shade (especially in summer)
Connecting your hutch and your run
Your hutch should be connected or inside the run. Runaround sell tunnels and connectors to make sure your rabbits live life to the full. These connecting tunnels come in various lengths and can fit to any hutch or run. They also have 'extras’ such as dens, digging pits and boxes.
Wendy houses and sheds for your rabbits
A shed or large children's playhouse attached to a run is a great option as they're taller than a hutch and offer a bit more shelter for your rabbits. The overall floor space still needs to be a minimum of 12 square feet. The attached run will also need to be at least three metres by two metres, by one metre high.
You'll also need to ensure there's enough ventilation in the shed. Some minor adjustments will mean your rabbits get enough air and it does not get too hot.
Although traditionally designed for birds, aviaries are a fantastic alternative to a run. You'll also need to include or attach a shelter, such as a shed or hutch.
One advantage over the traditional run is that you can comfortably walk around and interact with your rabbits. This is a particularly good if you have children as they can sit down and allow your rabbits to come to them, which is harder to do with a traditional hutch and run.
Rabbits can quickly become worried about little hands trying to make friends in a small space. An aviary allows for more natural interactions.
Second-hand rabbit housing
If you get a second-hand hutch, please scrub it out thoroughly with a recommended pet-friendly cleaner. You will need to do this a few days before your rabbits arrive with you so that the wood can dry properly before your rabbits use it.
Homemade rabbit housing
Unfortunately, most pet shops won't stock rabbit accommodation that's big enough, but some specialist suppliers will. We are working hard to influence shops and government to make sure that this changes in the future. In the meantime, it may be easier and more cost-effective to make your own rabbit housing. Just make sure it meets the specifications we've listed on this page, so your rabbit is safe!
Rabbit housing to avoid
- Cages are not suitable for rabbits
- Hutch and run combinations can be great if they are big enough, but avoid the ones that have a run underneath the hutch that’s the same size as the hutch itself as this won't provide enough space
- Avoid buying a ‘starter’ hutch as your baby rabbit will soon outgrow it, and buying a new one will be expensive
- Beware of words like ‘luxury’, ‘mansion’ and ‘deluxe’ – these mean nothing if they can only take a few hops and aren't big enough
Protection from predators
Make sure your rabbit's space, enclosure or run is predator-proof and that your rabbits are protected from other animals by:
- using robust bolts and fittings that are not easily opened (eg they have a padlock)
- making sure your rabbits cannot dig out and predators cannot dig in. Depending on your set up this may include using paving slabs to line your enclosure, or if your run is on grass, fitting a wire mesh skirt or paving slabs around the perimeter. Most rabbits are very likely to dig at some point on grass or soil, so check for digging regularly and move the run or fill in digging attempts when needed.
- ensuring all mesh (whether on your hutch, run or enclosure) is predator proof – the thicker the wire the better, so 16 gauge (1.2 mm) or more is a must
- checking that the holes in your wire can keep out smaller predators such as stoats and weasels (13mm is a good size to opt for)
Chicken wire will not protect your rabbits from predators.
Indoor housing for rabbits
You can keep rabbits indoors all the time as long as they have 24-hour access to enough space (3m x 2m x 1m). You could do this by:
- giving your rabbits a room to themselves
- sectioning off an area of a room using tall puppy panels fixed together (but make sure your rabbit cannot stick their head through gaps)
- allowing them free range (although we do advise an area of 3m x 2m x 1m as a rabbit base for when you can’t supervise)
If you do choose to have your rabbits inside your home, you must make sure you have rabbit-proofed anywhere they'll go. Rabbits like to investigate everything, mainly with their teeth, and there are lots of dangerous objects, like wires, around our homes.
Rabbit-proofing your home
If you let your rabbits run around your house then you'll have to make sure it's safe for them to do so.
- Any cables must have a protective covering so they don't chew through them, causing injury to themselves or a fire
- House plants should be removed as they may be poisonous
- Keep any cleaning products or medicines out of reach (or out of hop)
- Protect your rabbits from any other pets that may cause them harm that live in the home
Read more about caring for your rabbits and dangers to avoid.
The best bedding for your rabbit will depend on where they live. Good rabbit bedding options include one or more of the following:
- Clean, bagged straw
- Natural paper bedding or shredded paper
- Vet bed
- Dust-free and non-toxic wood shavings
- Old newspapers (useful as a lining)
Anything you use should be comfortable for your rabbit's feet and catch any urine, faeces, food or water spills.
Sawdust is not suitable as it can be very dusty and may cause respiratory problems.