Before purchasing your new rabbit, a decision has to be made about whether you want your rabbit to live inside as a house rabbit or outside. Both are acceptable and rabbits can live happily either in- or outdoors.
If you decide to keep your rabbit outside, you’ll need to choose a suitable hutch, made of wood, with a large living compartment that has a mesh front to allow ventilation and sunlight. This main compartment should be big enough for an adult bunny to stretch out in all directions and to be able to stand on its hind legs without its ears touching the roof. A private area is also a MUST-HAVE. The rabbit needs this area in which to sleep and be able to hide if it feels in danger.
The position of the hutch is very important. You’ll need to position it so that it is protected in extreme weathers and secure against access by predators.
The inside of the hutch can be lined with newspaper, while the bedding can be hay. Additional hay, to prevent soiling, should be provided in a hay rack for feeding purposes. You’ll need to clean the hutch on a regular basis – at least once a week, increasing to 3 times a week in the warmer months, when flystrike is a threat. In colder months, bedding can be topped up to add warmth.
Rabbits often use one area to toilet, so it can be useful to train your rabbit to use a litter tray, which will make cleaning easier. Keeping your rabbit’s home clean is very important as poor hygiene can lead to many problems. The worst of these is flystrike, when flies are attracted to soiled bedding or even your rabbit’s bottom. The flies lay their eggs, which hatch into maggots, which then burrow into your rabbit’s skin. This can kill your rabbit very quickly. Always check your rabbit for sign sof flystrike twice daily in hot weather due to how rapidly this condition takes hold.
Outdoor rabbits will need daily access to a grass run. This should be secure enough to stop your rabbit jumping or burrowing out. Also ensure that it is predator-proof!
If you’d like a house rabbit, you’ll need to make sure that your house is rabbit-proof – electric cables and furniture can be chewed very easily. You also need to provide a cage or hutch that your rabbit can use as a safe place and to confine them to when you’re not at home. Buy toys for your rabbit, to keep them occupied, and provide a litter tray lined with paper for your rabbit to use.