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Newcomers Information Rabbit Feeding Importance of Diet Housing In The Garden


Most reputable pet shops sell good quality hutches ideal for the pet rabbit in the garden. As rabbits can have a long life span, make sure you buy one which is sturdy, secure (from animals trying to get in as well as the rabbit trying to escape) and waterproof.

There are many different styles of hutch, the best is probably a free standing hutch which opens at waist height and is easily accessible for getting the rabbit in and out. At this height the rabbit can watch what is happenning and is out of the view of cats, dogs and foxes which may pass through the garden.

Never stand a hutch directly on the ground as it will quickly become damp and cold so short legs of 220mm at least are a necessity . Remember that the hutch needs to be solid and water proof and should stand seven meters away from your house. The exact size will depend upon the breed, but remember the rabbit will need room to stretch out and to stand up on its back legs should it feel the urge.

When making the decisions about your hutch, bear in mind the following:

  • Make sure it is out of any draughts
  • Make sure the rain can't blow in
  • Make sure it is out of direct sunlight
  • Never paint the inside of your hutch with a lead based paint

Most hutches have a sleeping compartment so that the rabbit can get in and out of the cold and wet. However, a polythene cover suspended from the roof is advisable if the hutch is in the front in bad weather. This allows air to circulate but at the same time stops the bedding getting wet. It is important that there should be air circulating freely in the hutch at all times to stop the build up of bacteria so make sure that the polythene "hangs" rather than "clings".

If you are buying a second hand hutch - be careful. Always ask why the hutch is being sold. If the previous occupant passed away, bacteria can still be present despite thorough cleaning. If the previous occupant died of VHD, do NOT buy as no cleaning substances can kill the dormant stages of this virus. If you put a baby rabbit in the hutch, it is likely to catch the virus and die.

Many people often like to have a run for the rabbits as well and similar rules apply. However, here the question of security is paramount as rabbits will dig and, if left unattended in a run, your rabbit will quickly escape. Have a permanent run which is sunk into the earth or to have a run with a mesh or wooden base so that the rabbit cannot dig its way out. Also make sure with a run that cats and dogs cannot knock it over to get at the rabbit. Only let a rabbit free in the garden if you are 100% positive there is no escape - remember, rabbits can squeeze through small holes and gnaw them bigger as well as dig under fences - and you can't stay with it the entire time, just in case!!

The Bedding your Rabbit will need

Your rabbit's hutch will be its home so make sure it is really comfortable. For bedding, wood shavings are ideal as they are clean and absorbent. Sometimes straw and hay on top of the shavings helps with insulation. If shavings are difficult to obtain, shredded paper is an option if used but not on its own, but as a base layer for straw or hay. (Owners of rabbits with white paws beware as the newspaper print will turn them dark grey). Sawdust is not recommended as the dust can often get into the eyes and nose and cause irritation. Dusty or old hay or straw can also cause the same problem so check it before you buy. (Good hay should always smell sweet, not musty.) When bedded with hay or straw the rabbit will probably eat some with its food but don't worry, this is natural "roughage".

Roll up your sleeves!! Rabbit chores explained

Rabbits should have their bedding changed completely once a week. Rabbits like to use one or more corners as a toilet area so you will need to clean corners out more frequently, perhaps every third day. Also the hutch should be scrubbed thoroughly with disinfectants once a month but make sure your rabbit has somewhere else to go whilst it dries.

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