Rabbit Care: Crates, Feed and Space

As far as first pets go, they don’t get much better than rabbits.

Although they take up more space and time than the second-choice goldfish, their inherent cuteness and tactile nature make them a much more attractive prospect to a young child.

Relatively harmless (some older creatures are known to occasionally nip), they are cheap to feed and will usually live anywhere between 9 and 11 years – this ideal lifespan makes them ideal for toddlers or primary school-age children who will be of a relatively mature age by the time the creature dies of old age.

Although it might be tempting to cut down on expenses and just buy the one rabbit to start with, it’s best to keep them in groups or in pairs at the very least. Studies have shown that rabbits live happier lives when they have companions; left alone they can often drift into sombre catatonic states or, conversely, worrisome states of panic. There are no specific breeds of rabbits that are more at home in captivity, as the species has been domesticated for a long time. Buying a rare breed will inevitably cost more money with no specific behavioural benefit. Mixed breed creatures can be bought for a considerable discount, often from pet shops or rescue homes and will prove to be just as good pets.

Before you purchase your rabbits, it’s imperative that you have a safe, clean environment for them to spend the majority of their time in.

As a general rule, your rabbits’ hutch should be tall enough for them to stand on their hind legs, it’s imperative that they have enough space to fully stretch out and hop around. It might sound silly, but your rabbits will also need a private space, closed off from public view, where they can sleep or simply get some quiet time. A space of around 183cm x 90cm for the floor is the bare minimum – you’ll need a larger hutch if you’re keeping more than a couple of animals.

Make sure that you place your hutch in a shaded, sheltered part of your garden where direct sunlight doesn’t reach it for long periods of time. If you’re keeping your rabbits outside for the entirety of the year then you’ll need to invest in extra bedding and insulation, to make sure that they stay nice and warm throughout the year.

Ideally you’ll have enough space to keep your rabbits in a small Wendy house, with enough space for them to run and play freely. The more space that you allow them live in, the more natural their behaviour will be and the longer they will live for. If you’ve not got the money for one of these, then you can always create your own by nailing together a series of wooden crates for packing.

Bear in mind that, if your rabbit is kept in a confined space for too long, you’ll not only will you risk them developing musco-skeletal conditions, but their behaviour might also deteriorate to the point where they will no longer make good companions.    

Just remember that rabbits kept outside are always going to be susceptible to infection, parasites and disease – this is why it’s imperative that you check on them at least twice a day!