How to keep your rabbits active
With the warmer weather upon us, it is great for your pet rabbits to be outside and active. Of course, they should have enough space to be active all year round, but now is a good time to think about what they need in the way of outdoor housing. If you need any advice on creating the perfect environment for your rabbits, contact the team at your local Healthy Pet Club practice for advice.
Rabbits’ natural behaviour
Allowing an animal to demonstrate its natural behaviours has a huge effect on its health and well-being, and we owe it to all our pets to make their lives as natural as possible. In the wild a rabbit would:
- Rear up
- Lie stretched out
- Be alone
It is your job to provide an environment that allows your rabbits to do all these things.
No rabbit can behave normally without enough space. So if you have a pair of rabbits – and remember that rabbits kept alone are very likely to be lonely, so keeping a pair is pretty much mandatory – then the total area of their house and run should be at least 6m2, with a run height of at least 1m (60 square feet; run height, 3 feet). So if you have a hutch that is 2.0 x 0.6 m (which is typical) then you need an attached run that is at least 2.0 x 2.5m. This may sound quite large but it will still only allow your rabbit to make about 4 hops before he has to stop – so bigger is always better when it comes to run size.
Ways to increase activity
If you provide the right environment, you can leave it to your rabbits to do the exercising. Here is what they need:
- Enough space and height to:
- Stretch up to their full height
- Get away from each other and sit apart (see above for minimum requirements)
- Platforms to jump onto
- Places to hide
- Somewhere to dig
- If the run isn’t on grass, provide a large litter tray or an earth-filled planter
- Access to the exercise run 24/7
- Rabbits are most active at dawn and dusk so letting them out only during the middle of the day isn’t ideal.
Enriching their environment with tubes, tunnels, hideouts, willow balls, and hidden food will also help to keep them happy and active. Always be sure to leave both ends of tunnels unblocked, though – to feel safe, rabbits need to know that they have an escape route.