Rabbit housing and accommodation
Rabbits can be housed outside all year round in a good quality weatherproof hutch with a separate draught-free dark area, attached permanently to a secure run, as illustrated above. Do not be concerned if your rabbit uses the sleeping area as his toilet as this behaviour is quite common. A litter tray can be used in the hutch in the corner where bunny usually chooses as his potty corner.
The hutch must be at least 6” off the ground and should be sited out of direct sunlight and draughts. Make sure that padlocks or bolts are used for fastenings on both hutch and run to prevent access by foxes. Wire mesh used on hutches and runs should be of strong quality (not chicken wire). The whole structure should be sited on patio to prevent burrowing out by the rabbits or burrowing in by foxes.
Cover the hutch felting with white roofing plastic or paint it white, as there is no doubt that a white roof keeps the inside of the hutch cooler in the hot weather. If you have a plastic lid on the run, you can coat the inside with greenhouse shading if there is a danger of the rabbits overheating.
Be very careful if you are considering purchasing a hutch on two levels with a ramp in between. It has sadly been shown that rabbits can incur serious injury by getting a hind leg trapped under the ramp where it joins the upper level, with fatal results. The hutch and run should be on one level, making sure that the hutch is off the ground to prevent damp. If you have already bought a hutch with a ramp and are unable to return it for something more suitable, the ramp itself can be replaced by a set of “pet steps” which can be bought online or from large pet shops.
Rabbits find steps far easier to negotiate and they are much safer than ramps. You would also need to add a run to the front, as the double level area is not enough for rabbits. The photo below shows an adapted double level hutch with an added run fitted on to the front. Out of view is a set of pet steps to allow the rabbits to get to the upper level safely.
The photo below illustrates just how long a rabbit can be when he stretches out whilst relaxing, emphasing how important it is that rabbits have plenty of room at all times.
If you are worried that your rabbits’ hutch is not as warm as it should be during a cold winter, you can insulate it by buying bubble wrap from a garden centre and fix that on the sides and back on the outside, covering it with tarpaulin or plastic sheeting to protect it. This can be removed in the spring. Do not be tempted to completely cover the front as it is very important that air is allowed to flow in, and you are better to try and site the hutch away from prevailing winds so the rain does not blow in anyway. If you feel that you absolutely have to cover the front (remember that they are rabbits and are very hardy!) then cover no more than three quarters of the wire door. Below is a photo of an alternative type of accommodation, in this case housing two pairs of rabbits, each pair occupying half each but still having lots of room to run around and keep active.
Some people decide to bring their rabbits inside for the winter and divide off a part of a room (or devote a whole room) for the rabbits to live in, but as rabbits are very hardy you don’t have to bring them inside for the winter if you don’t want to. The photos below show another way of giving rabbits an excellent environment. An electric fence to keep out foxes is fitted all round the perimeter to keep them safe.
The photo below shows the opposite end to the previous photo. It shows the electrified perimeter fence on the left, allowing the owners to keep free range rabbits, chickens and ornamental wildfowl. This end is protected by a section of 6 foot board fencing.
The photo below gives another example of a hutch/run situation, this time inside a shed for the winter (with the top removed for the photo)
The photos below shows other good alternatives:
Clearly visible in the photo below is the under wiring you need to do if the rabbits are living on grass, to stop them digging out and foxes from digging in.
Click on the link below to see yet another way to keep rabbits happy in their accommodation. A run should be attached to the door frame so the rabbits can come outside as well.
Thanks to a new owner getting back to me with some feedback about accommodation recently bought, I have added below a link to a website that sells good sized hutches with runs attached. Make sure if you do order via this link that you order the 6 foot hutch, as there are smaller sizes also available but these would not be big enough for a pair of rabbits. Also below is a photo of two of our adoptees in their new home!