Since rabbits like to move, they need a large and varied home. There are different types and sizes of enclosures. Find out everything you need to know about designing your rabbit enclosure here!
Unfortunately, small lattice cages are still common in rabbit keeping. But this form of husbandry does not meet the needs of the rabbits under any circumstances and is not species-appropriate. Rabbits like to hop and jump, twirl and jump in the air. Rabbits, therefore, need a large enclosure in which they can exercise extensively, otherwise, they will develop behavioral problems and become ill.
The right size for the rabbit enclosure
As an absolute minimum for two rabbits, provided they are small breeds up to three kilograms, the “Veterinarian Association for Animal Welfare” recommends. an enclosure with a floor area of at least 6m² for two rabbits. Keeping only one rabbit is not species-appropriate. If there are more than two rabbits, the enclosure size per animal must be increased by at least 20%.
Rabbits can be housed in an always-accessible outdoor enclosure and hutch, a rabbit room, a custom-designed rabbit area in the home, or a combination of free-range and cage. If the latter is the case, the cage must have a minimum size of 150 x 60 x 50 cm (length x width x height) and should only serve as a retreat. The free run should be available to the rabbits at all times (even at night!) and secured. Here’s an example:
In addition, one side of the rabbit enclosure should be at least 8 feet long so that the rabbit can move around freely. The enclosure should be high enough for the rabbit to stand up easily.
There is usually no ready-made enclosure in the pet shop that meets the size requirements of rabbits. However, individual online retailers also have larger enclosures (for indoor keeping), mostly made of wood, which are large enough or custom-made. However, these enclosures cost several hundred euros or even more.
In addition to the large enclosure, rabbits need to be allowed to run around in the apartment or in the garden every day.
Make your own rabbit enclosure
With a little manual skill, you can also build your own enclosure! Homebuilts have the advantage of being customizable and can also be built much larger than the store-bought alternatives. A home-made enclosure makes sense, especially when keeping rabbits outdoors. The following should be considered when building the rabbit enclosure yourself:
- Two rabbits need a floor space of at least 6m2
for each additional rabbit, the base area must be increased by at least 20%
- One side of the rabbit enclosure should be at least eight feet long
- Self-constructed enclosures can also be created with several floors. The individual floors are connected to each other by ramps.
- For example, you can use plywood panels about 20 cm wide as ramps, which are attached at an angle of no more than 30 degrees. Wooden strips are glued (with non-toxic glue/glue) to the ramps.
- For example, you can use chipboard for the back wall, wire mesh for the sides and doors made of a wooden frame, and plexiglass or wire mesh for the front.
- Chipboard is suitable as a floor, which is covered with PVC or solid pond liner for better hygiene.
- To prevent the rabbits from nibbling on the plastic, the edges (= contact area for gnawing) must be secured with metal rails. Uncoated wood can also be coated with non-toxic varnish.
Important: Good ventilation must be provided in the rabbit enclosure! In addition, sufficient light must enter the enclosure!
A whole room as a rabbit enclosure
Specially furnished rabbit rooms are becoming increasingly popular. The animals then live without a cage in a room or in an area of the apartment separated by bars or wooden boards. Such partitions can be bought, but you can also build them yourself.
The room or the separated area must be designed to be safe, i.e. electrical cables and indoor plants should be inaccessible to the animals. If the floor is made of PVC, it can be covered in some places with old bed sheets or patchwork rugs. Since rabbits often nibble on everything, the walls of the rabbit room are best protected by screwed Plexiglas or chipboard.
Other components of the rabbit enclosure
In addition to the right size and materials, the interior design of the rabbit enclosure is also important. Under no circumstances should the following components be omitted:
- sleeping and resting places (houses)
- (self-made) wooden caves or fabric tunnels, ramps, labyrinths…
- fixed feeding place with feeding and drinking bowl, hay rack
- at least two toilets with litter
- employment and play opportunities
The right location for the rabbit enclosure
The location of the rabbit enclosure is also important. For example, you should make sure that the rabbits are protected from excessive heat and drafts. Especially when keeping rabbits outside, the animals should be protected from extreme weather conditions.