How much space do your rabbits need?

Rabbit Welfare, a UK charity dedicated to improving domestic rabbits’ health and welfare through campaigning, education and the most up-to-date advice, states: “It goes without saying that bigger is better in terms of space for rabbits, but we’re saying it anyway!”
Featured image for How much space do your rabbits need?
6th June 2024

If you have a couple, a throuple or even a band of well-bonded bunnies, you’ll know just how much they love hanging out together – enjoying grooming sessions, chasing games, chill-out moments and snooze huddles. However, even the best bunny pals need their own space. This is why it’s essential that you provide your buns with a roomy, enriching environment to enable them to live healthy, happy lives.

“It’s fairly obvious to us, as humans, that environment plays a large part in the development of health problems. We sometimes overlook the even more important role it plays in the health of animals who are totally dependent on us to provide the perfect living conditions,” says vet Richard Saunders BSc (Hons) BVSc MSB CBiol CertZooMed DZooMed (Mammalian) MRCVS, RCVS Specialist in Zoo and Wildlife Medicine, who is Rabbit Welfare’s extremely well qualified Specialist Advisor.

Dr Saunders adds: “If a rabbit is kept in the wrong conditions, it has to tolerate them as best it can. This can lead to very specific health problems, and in addition, the chronic stress of such an incorrect environment depresses the rabbit’s immune system and makes it much more susceptible to a whole range of other problems. This is a particular problem in rabbits, as they have not evolved to make a great fuss about something, in case they draw a predator’s attention to themselves, and they often, as a result, suffer in silence.”

Let rabbits be rabbits

When considering what your pet rabbits need to lead their best bunny lives, Rabbit Welfare recommends thinking about how rabbits behave in the wild. All rabbits need 24/7 access to a safe environment that allows them to do all of this:

  • Running
  • Digging/Burrowing
  • Jumping
  • Hiding
  • Foraging/Grazing
  • Stretching up on their hind legs
  • Lying fully stretched out
  • Binkying

 


TOP TIP!

Rabbits are clever, curious creatures. To meet their behavioural needs, they need lots of things to enrich their day-to-day lives. Enrichment for rabbits can take many forms, including willow balls, puzzle feeders, burrow trays, cardboard boxes, dig boxes, turf trays and snuffle mats.


The charity adds: “Rabbits are active animals and can develop painful skeletal problems if kept permanently caged, so daily exercise outside the hutch is vital. A hutch should only ever be a shelter, never the sole or main accommodation for your rabbits. For this reason, we recommend a large hutch or shed with an exercise run permanently attached. This means that the rabbits can decide when they want to shelter, and when to play.”

 


TOP TIP!

Rabbits are crepuscular, which means they are most active at dawn and dusk – so lifting them from hutch to run for a few hours in the daytime just doesn’t suit their body clocks and instincts. Rabbit Welfare recommends that having the hutch and run permanently attached also means you can have a Sunday morning lie-in without feeling guilty!


The ideal living arrangement for happy bunnies

Rabbit experts stress that a hutch should NEVER be the sole or main accommodation for rabbits. Using research-based evidence conducted by the RSPCA and Bristol University, Rabbit Welfare outlines the minimum housing recommendations for two average sized rabbits (they should be kept at least in pairs) for both indoor and outdoor accommodation:

  • A single enclosed area of at least 3m x 2m by 1m high. This can include the sleeping quarters and makes up a footprint (accessible area of the ground or floor) of 3m x 2m. It’s important for the rabbits that this 3m x 2m footprint is in a single block of space because it allows them to display positive behaviours, for example, to run rather than just hop.
  • The sleeping quarters (a hutch, for example) should be a minimum of 1.8m x 0.6m x 0.6m high. The upper floor of a two-storey hutch does NOT count towards the footprint. Similarly, whilst raised platforms, tunnels and other connected areas are great for enrichment and are actively encouraged, they do not count towards the footprint.
  • Get the height right We also recommend a minimum height of 1m. This is to allow rabbits to display their happy behaviours of jumping and binkying!
  • Access to all areas all of the time This minimum space, a footprint of 3m x 2m and a height of 1m must be available at all times, not just for limited periods.

TOP TIP!

Need some inspiration? Take a look at Rabbit Welfare’s housing section for some ideas. Perhaps you could convert a garden shed, for example. As long as your rabbits have a base enclosure with a footprint of 3m x 2m x 1m (which can include the sleeping quarters), you can use connector systems to add extra elements to provide greater enrichment and even more space. 

 


How to create a des res for your rabbits

Rabbits are all individuals who can be very particular about their favourite places to forage, snooze and play – and disputes can cause a scuffle between even the closest bunny BFFs.

That’s why, when it comes to your buns’ accommodation, you need to create a home that provides your buns with plenty of different places to explore and hang out so they can spend time apart when they want to.


TOP TIP!

House bunnies? Indoor rabbits face different hazards than their outdoor counterparts such as chewable electrical wires, slippery flooring and toxic house plants – our indoor accommodation tips can help >>


Converting an outdoor shed, adding a secure outdoor enclosure and installing platforms, tunnels and hiding spaces will mean there’s plenty of space for everyone to enjoy.

The Rabbit Awareness Action Group has a really useful Guide to Rabbit Housing. Also check out this ideal bunny home created by Rabbit Welfare. It has two bolts on the door, top and bottom for extra security, 12g 13mm wire attached by strong galvanised wire staples, a felt roof for protection and wire sunk under the grass area to prevent determined diggers from making their escape. Inside the run, five-star features include:

  • Platforms to sit on and look for danger. This also allows rabbits to stretch and jump
  • Grass to graze and access to clean, dry hay at all times
  • Hiding places
  • A place to dig
  • Space to sit apart from each other if they want to
  • Plenty of space to run, jump and binky

For your buns, having lots of room is incredibly life-enriching. For you, as their human guardian, it’s incredibly rewarding.

Rabbit rescue charity The Littlest Lives Rescue says: “In the wild, bunnies often roam a few miles every day. Our pets love to hop, run and binky around just like their wild relatives. To be able to do this they need space. If you have had the pleasure of seeing your bunny binky and jump around, you will see how high they jump and how fast they run. We believe that we are privileged to be able to have bunnies in our lives and should therefore do our best to give them the happiest life possible, which means giving them space.”

 


TOP TIP!

Providing toys for rabbits doesn’t need to be expensive. You can make homemade rabbit toys with household items. For example, shredded paper in a cardboard box can provide endless fun. Simply stuffing an empty toilet roll with tasty feeding hay and some healthy forage will help encourage your buns to display their natural foraging behaviour.  Rabbits spend an incredible 70% of their time awake eating! But there isn’t a set dinner time for bunnies. They’ll want to eat their nutritious feeding hay or fresh grass all day, every day. Place lots of high quality, dust extracted feeding hay around their housing so they can have a nibble whenever they like!


Get all the essential info about looking after happy, healthy rabbits with The RWAF Guide to Rabbit Care >>

Would you like to help all pet rabbits to have better lives? The Rabbit Awareness Action Group is fighting for rabbit welfare. Join us, and sign our letter of support >>


NUTRITIOUS FOOD FOR HEALTHY, HAPPY RABBITS – 92% OF UK VETS RECOMMEND OUR BURGESS EXCEL SMALL PETS RANGE!

Rabbits are herbivores and need a plant-based diet with lots of fibre to keep their digestive system healthy. Along with their rabbit nuggets and a few healthy treats make sure your rabbits have unlimited access to good quality, dust extracted feeding hay and fresh grass to graze on.

Check out our tasty nugget varieties specially created for junior and dwarf rabbitsindoor bunniesgolden oldiesadult rabbits – there’s even a light recipe for buns who are watching their weight!

WHY DOES MY RABBIT...? If you’re a bunny lover, you’ll probably have many rabbit-related questions you’d like some answers to. For example, why does my rabbit bite me? Why does my rabbit thump? Why does my rabbit nose-nudge me? Why does my rabbit chuck stuff about? Read on to discover a whole warren full of fascinating answers...

 


CARE MORE Find lots of useful advice on caring for your rabbits from Burgess, the pet experts. Training, nutrition, grooming and general care, it's all here >>  

Are your bunnies Burgess bunnies? Join the Burgess Pet Club for exclusive offers and rewards.

LET’S GET SOCIAL Sign up to the Excel Bunny Base – a safe Facebook community for rabbit guardians that are looking for advice and friendly discussions from likeminded owners – and there are lots of cute bunny photos and videos! Also join us on Instagram.


If you found this interesting, you may also like:

SPRING DAYS IN THE SUNSHINE Just like us, our rabbits and guinea pigs are eager for some fresh spring air and the chance to bask in the welcoming spring sunshine. However, if you’ve decided it’s time to let your small pets enjoy some outdoor time, there are precautions you need to take so it’s not a shock to their system.

HOW TO RABBIT-PROOF YOUR GARDEN Letting your bunnies loose to explore and forage around your garden will be much appreciated by your nose-twitching pals. However, creating and maintaining a rabbit-safe garden is not an easy task and there are lots of things to think about.

HOW DO YOUR RABBITS FEEL ABOUT BEING HANDLED? Do your bunny chums enjoy being handled? Or do they start wriggling, kicking out and even try giving you a nip when you try to pick them up? If so, it’s not really that surprising when you take a moment to understand what makes rabbits tick.

THE DOs AND DON’Ts OF GARDENING IF YOU HAVE PETS Dogs dallying among the African daisies? Cats curled up in the camellias? Rabbits romping by the roses? Is it really possible to enjoy a decorative, flower-filled, flourishing garden if you have pets?

HOW TO BE A GOLD-STAR INDOOR BUNNY OWNER Indoor rabbits make fabulous house pets, as long as you provide these smart and sociable animals with everything they need to be healthy, happy bunnies.

LITTER TRAINING YOUR RABBITS  Whether your buns live indoors or out, litter training has lots of benefits – both for them and you!

BONDING WITH YOUR BUNNY CHUMS It’s no surprise that rabbits who bond with their owners live longer and happier lives. Whether your buns are already part of the family, or you’ve just welcomed some new rabbits into your family, find out how to deepen your connection with your nose-twitching pals.

BUNNY TALK Rabbits are highly social animals with a complex language all of their own. By learning to understand their body postures, behaviours and vocalisations, you’ll uncover their individual personalities.

GAMES TO PLAY WITH YOUR RABBITS Bunnies are smart and active creatures who like lots of things to do and games to play – particularly if there are some tasty rabbit treats involved. We’ve some fun ideas to add interest and excitement to your buns’ day.

RABBITS AND GUINEA PIGS – IS INDOORS OR OUTDOORS BEST? Is the outdoor life better for bunnies and guinea pigs, or will these small pets have a more enriching time if they’re kept indoors?

HELP YOUR PETS GET INTO THE EXERCISE GROOVE Spring is traditionally the time of year when we’re all planning to eat more healthily and up our exercise levels – but what about our pets?

COST EFFECTIVE WAYS TO LOOK AFTER YOUR SMALL PETS How to create DIY boredom breakers and ways to upcycle old furniture and unwanted items from around the house into interesting features for your pets’ environment.

INDOOR GUINEA PIGS AND HOUSE BUNNIES Once traditionally always housed outdoors, many people enjoy keeping their guinea pigs or rabbits as indoor pets – and there are all sorts of reasons why.

HOW TO PROTECT YOUR GUINEAS AND BUNNIES FROM PESKY PARASITES When it comes to protecting our gorgeous small pets from mites, fleas, flies, ticks and mosquitoes – and any other irritating and unwelcome pests – a four-pronged attack is the best approach.

WHICH POPULAR RABBIT BREEDS HAVE THE MOST HEALTH ISSUES?  ‘Cute’ bunny breeds such as the Lionhead rabbit, the Netherland Dwarf rabbit and the Mini Lop, are at risk from long-term health problems.

FINDING A VET FOR YOUR SMALL PETS Did you know that just like hospital specialists, vets have different areas of expertise? That’s why, if you have small pets, it can be a good idea to seek out a vet that specialises in small animal medicine.

PET INSURANCE EXPLAINED Cat insurance, dog insurance, rabbit insurance – what pets can get cover? Can you get pet insurance for pre-existing conditions? Can you get pet insurance for older pets? Can you get multi-pet cover? What types of pet insurance are available? How does pet insurance pay out? We answer some of the most commonly asked questions to help you make an informed decision.

Featured products

Product image for Excel Adult Rabbit Nuggets with Mint

Excel Adult Rabbit Nuggets with Mint

from £7.49£33.99 or subscribe and save 10%
Product image for Excel Adult Rabbit Nuggets with Oregano

Excel Adult Rabbit Nuggets with Oregano

from £7.49
Product image for Excel Junior & Dwarf Rabbit Nuggets with Mint

Excel Junior & Dwarf Rabbit Nuggets with Mint

from £7.49£33.99 or subscribe and save 10%

Blog categories

Dogs

Dogs

Cats

Cats

Rabbits

Rabbits

Guinea pigs

Guinea pigs

Small animals

Small animals