A Hutch Is Not Enough

We’re backing the Rabbit Welfare Association and Fund’s #ahutchisnotenough campaign to highlight the need to better housing for rabbits. Here’s why….

Posted: 31 October 2016

A Hutch Is Not Enough

Share:

We’re backing the Rabbit Welfare Association and Fund’s #ahutchisnotenough campaign to highlight the need to better housing for rabbits. Here’s why….

It’s frightening to think that hutches for rabbits only came about in the Victorian era in order to store the rabbits short term before they went into the pot. More than 100 years later, however, many pet rabbits continue to live in cramped conditions, with no playmates and no fresh air or exercise. At Burgess, we’re committed to changing this.

As the Rabbit Welfare Association and Fund (RWAF) campaign highlights, rabbits were never designed to live in a confined space. In the wild their territories can stretch over an area equivalent to 30 football pitches, and they live in large social groups: foraging, grooming and huddling together for warmth. Numerous studies have shown that rabbits living alone experience high levels of stress. During Burgess’s 2016 Rabbit Awareness Week, we highlighted the plight of rabbits that live alone with our Buddies for Bunnies campaign.

We showed that boredom and loneliness can have a devastating effect on the mental health of rabbits, with findings from the PDSA Animal Wellbeing (PAW) Report 2015 revealing that 44% of rabbit owners have observed worrying behaviour in their pet rabbits. We hoped the campaign would be a call to action to rabbit owners with single rabbits to consider getting a suitable buddy for their bunny.

Domestic rabbits share the same need to run, jump, explore and have companionship as their wild cousins, and we’re backing #ahutchisnotenough to call for rabbit accommodation that must allow them to display these natural behaviours.

RWAF have numerous testimonials from owners who have ‘seen the light’ and are astonished at how much more fun their rabbit is once it has been given the right formula for a proper life.

Here’s what you can do:

• Ditch your old hutch. RWAF recommend a minimum housing size of 6ft x 2ft x 2ft (2m x 0.5m x 0.5m) which allows rabbits room to move, stand on their hind legs (a natural behaviour) and enough space for the food, toilet and sleeping areas to be kept apart.

• Remember bigger is better! Bear in mind these recommendations are all minimums. If driving rain makes the hutch wet, for example, this space gets much smaller.

• Give them the runaround. It is commonly accepted that a rabbit should have space for three hops, this is around 7ft – so ultimately, a housing should only be a shelter and should be attached to a secure run of at least 8ft by 6ft (2.5m by 2m) in size.

• Bring a buddy. Enriching the life of a solitary rabbit with a companion is the single biggest and best thing you can do for your rabbit. Visit your local rescue centre, where the rabbits are likely to already be neutered and vaccinated, and see which one is likely to get on with your bunny, then follow these steps http://www.rabbitawarenessweek.co.uk/company/introducing-rabbits-to-each-other/

• Link up their life. For under £40, you can get a ‘link kit’ tunnel from Runaround (www.runaround.co.uk), which fits to any hutch and run, and will take approx 15 minutes to fit. With these extension kits, rabbits can exercise, shelter and rest when they want to. Rabbits are ‘crepuscular’ so they are most active at dusk and dawn and prefer to run around very early in the morning – before you get up!

• Get some advice. Contact Burgess with your queries and questions or send photos of your rabbit set-up to hq@rabbitwelfare.co.uk and RWAF will give you confidential and personal advice on improving your rabbit’s life.

Share: