||This page should be used
A hutch, cage or kennel should be available as a den.
- An indoor dog kennel/puppy pen or travel cage of appropriate size can be used.
- A rabbit hutch designed for house rabbits
can be used. (B606.1.w1)
- A collapsible dog pen can be used. (B601.1.w1)
- A cage with a plastic base and walls of wire mesh can be used; this provides good ventilation. (B339.8.w8,
- The hutch should be covered or include a covered dark area in which
the rabbit can hide.
- If the rabbit has free-range of a room or the house, provide a cage
large enough for the rabbit to lie down in stretched out. (B602.13.w13)
- If keeping more than one house rabbit, provide one bed-cage for
each rabbit. (B602.13.w13)
- The hutch or cage should be in a quiet place.
- This should not be directly by a radiator or window.
- It is important that the rabbit not be exposed to direct
sunlight in hot weather.
- Carpet, linoleum and newspaper are all suitable substrates. (B606.6.w6)
- A towel, carpet offcut or piece of vet-bed or similar in the
base over the plastic improves grip and comfort. (B624,
- Hay or straw can be used for bedding and for food; this should be
replenished every day. (B606.6.w6);
changed daily (N34.Spring2006.w1)
Rabbit-proof base room
- If possible, have a room where the rabbit can be based, which is
fully rabbit proof so the rabbit (with its hutch/cage, litter tray,
toys etc.) can be left loose in that room at all times. (J213.7.w3,
- If this is not possible, ensure the inside cage/enclosure is
Rabbit visiting rooms
- Rooms which the rabbit will visit should be reasonably rabbit-proof.
- Lift books, telephone directories, remote controls etc. out of
- Make sure there are no electrical wires where the rabbit can chew
them; all wires must be protected in conduits or plastic tubing. (B606.6.w6,
- Use e.g. a baby gate, with added wire mesh, to keep a house rabbit
from entering rooms where it isn't wanted, or from going upstairs. (B624)
- Placing a large cardboard roll (the sort which carpets are stored
on) or a roll of old carpet (pile side in) behind the sofa gives the
rabbit a tunnel and reduces damage to the back of the sofa. (B624,
Litter tray / toilet training
- A litter tray should be provided. Rabbits naturally tend to use a
latrine area and will learn to use a litter tray if repeatedly placed
in it initially. (B339.8.w8,
B601.1.w1, B602.13.w13, B606.1.w1,
- Initially place some droppings in the tray. (B339.8.w8)
- Providing a hay net or hay rack above the tray or a trough of
hay beside it may encourage its
use, since rabbit tend to defecate while eating. (B606.1.w1,
- Another method of training the rabbit to use the tray is to
initially leave the rabbit in its home cage, with the tray, for at
least two to three full days. (D349)
- If the rabbit urinates or defecates outside the tray, move
the droppings/urine-soaked newspaper into the tray. (D349)
- Only start letting the rabbit out once it is using the tray
reliably, and then initially for short periods, well
- Place the litter tray in a location where the rabbit feels safe.
- Choose a safe litter. Note: Rabbits may eat material placed in the litter tray. (B615.6.w6)
- Paper-based litter is recommended; it is safe if ingested. (B601.1.w1,
- Straw-based litter can be used; it is safe if ingested. (B615.6.w6,
- Litter based on corn-cobs can be used. (B615.6.w6);
this may cause gastro-intestinal problems if ingested. (J213.7.w3)
- Fuller's earth or clay litter should not be used; it can cause impaction if
- Wood-based products can be used. (B601.1.w1)
- However, some woods are toxic if eaten (pine and cedar
contain aromatic hydrocarbons; ingestion of these can result
in liver damage, indicated by raised liver enzymes). (B606.1.w1,
- If the rabbit starts sleeping in its litter tray, provide a
second tray with straw or fleece bedding in. (B606.1.w1)
- A water bowl or drinking bottle of water should be available at all
times and the water changed daily. (N34.Winter07.w3)
- It is important to ensure that flooring is safe and comfortable,
allowing the rabbit to hop, jump, run and stand on their hind legs.
- Non-slip flooring is particularly important for older rabbits.
- Preferably more than one surface type should be available.
- Provide a soft surface for sleeping.
Environmental enrichment and toys
- The rabbit's environment should be kept interesting:
- Boxes to hide in.
- Large cardboard tubes (from carpets) to run up and down in, e.g.
behind the sofa.
- A "treat" ball with bits of concentrate food or other
treat foods in; the food drops out and becomes accessible when the
rabbit moves the ball.
- A large cardboard box full of straw for the rabbit to burrow
into - cut two holes in the box on the sides near the base for the
rabbit to get in and out.
- An old telephone directory or similar to chew up.
- A rolled up offcut of carpet to run through/dig in.
- Two house rabbits will provide company and interest for each
- See: Mammal Behavioural Requirements (Mammal Husbandry and Management)
- House rabbits should preferably be given regular time outside, either
loose in the garden under supervision, or in a secure run, as
- Exercise is possible in the house; outside time also gives a
chance for the rabbit to graze.
- A rabbit can use a lightweight cat flap to reach the outdoors; if
this leads directly into the garden then the garden needs to be
both rabbit-proof and predator-proof. (B624)
|Complications/ Limitations / Risk
- Rabbits chew. They may ruin furniture and rugs, ingest toxic materials or
substances which will block the gastrointestinal tract, and may bite
through electrical cables, resulting in electrical burns or
- Areas of the house which the rabbit has access to should be
rabbit-proofed: electric cables protected from chewing, boxes of
detergent and poisonous ornamental plants removed or placed out of
reach (remembering that rabbits can hop up onto furniture). (B601.1.w1,
- Rabbits are easily stressed by excessive heat, and can suffer from
- The cage or kennel should not be placed by a radiator or where
direct sunlight will fall on it through a window. (B606.6.w6)
- Expect some objects/furnishings in rooms used by rabbits to get
- Take care if the house is also occupied by a cat or dog; it may not
be sensible to leave them together unsupervised, even after they have
been introduced to each other. (B624,
- A glass terrarium/aquarium is not suitable as a rabbit cage;
it is poorly
ventilated and ammonia
fumes can quickly build up. (B602.13.w13,
|Legal and Ethical Considerations
||The accommodation provided
should be appropriate for the physical and behavioural requirements of
rabbits. In the UK, The Animal Welfare Act 2006
should be considered, in particular (Section 9):
Duty of person responsible for animal to ensure welfare
(1) A person commits an offence if he does not take such steps as are reasonable in
all the circumstances to ensure that the needs of an animal for which he is
responsible are met to the extent required by good practice.
(2) For the purposes of this Act, an animal’s needs shall be taken to include—
(a) its need for a suitable environment,
(b) its need for a suitable diet,
(c) its need to be able to exhibit normal behaviour patterns,
(d) any need it has to be housed with, or apart from, other animals, and
(e) its need to be protected from pain, suffering, injury and disease.