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outdoor rabbits

A hutch should only be a shelter and not the only living space. It should be a very nice solid well built, big hutch, and attached to a secure run of at least 8' x 4'. Please bear in mind that these recommendations are all minimums - and like many things in life, bigger is better! (from RWAF)

updated Jan 2014:
Since 2013, I like sheds even better for living spaces with runs attached. You can go inside and visit with the bunnies, they are easier to clean & insulate, absolutely safe, and also a much better investment. And you can easily lock them for security.

Our big runs are ten & 12 feet long 6 feet wide. Our first run was built for us and we were naive in that it is only 4 feet tall. It is better to have the run be tall enough you can stand up in it or you will get a neck ache from bending over when cleaning it or visiting the rabbit. Our other runs are tall enough to stand upright in. A house inside the run needs to be big enough the rabbit can move around in it and make a bed in it. In winter, the bun will spend more time inside the house and it should be nice and roomy for this. Also it allows for more air to circulate in hotter weather. 

below photo: 1 foot square paving stones between the runs keep foxes from digging in.
All runs should be fox and predator proofed. This means paving stones to prevent foxes digging in around the outside or covering the entire inside floor (I also pave the inside of the runs where those bunnies love to dig), a foxproof top attached securely to the run (ours are a combination of barn roofing and welded wire mesh), the wire should be attached to the wood frame with secure metal staples and plenty of them to go around, and the structure should be strong enough to take something landing on top of it or pushing against it as well as high winds. Paving stones should be at least 300 x 300 mm. We also have used welded wire mesh around the runs 400 mm wide with flint stones spread across the top and big heavy rocks along the width to make it secure. The run wire itself should be welded wire at least 16 gauge.

(left photo) Buns like a small opening for the door to their house; make sure there are other doors so you have access for cleaning.

Cleaning their house and run is necessary but simple. Remove any soiled hay or straw and clean the litter boxes (you can put one in the house and if you are lucky they will use that instead of using the floor) Some houses have removable trays for the floor which makes cleaning easier. Remove  soiled hay once a week or more often in hot weather to prevent flies from being happy customers - flies are bad news to buns; see the rabbit health links  to other websites as to why. Do not use normal detergents. We use white vinegar, bought at Tesco for around 50p a bottle. It kills any germs and neutralises odours. You can buy bun-safe cleaners at garden centres (just don't buy your bunnies there!) Generally I clean the outside runs and houses once a week; some of the rabbits do not use the loo ever in their house (they have litter boxes in their runs) so I change the bedding about once a month but add fresh on top and then they put it where they like. I rake up where their loo is if they go on the ground in the run and put it in our compost, add fresh hay to the area. Also remove any manky straw/hay, and strew fresh straw on the ground, about an armload per run per week, more if they eat it up or it rains.

Some people use wood shavings, and we do not because all our outdoor buns use a litter box or either do not go to the loo inside their house. I find the shavings get stuck in their fur, especially the thicker fur.

Shade in summer is very important for outside buns. See rabbit health for how we provide shade.

more photos (January 2014) of some of our bunny housing: (click on photos to see them larger)

Sound expensive? What cost is protecting the life of an animal you love?  I do not know about you, but I prefer the animals I share my life with to be comfortable and happy. I protect my animals from danger - and it only takes one night for a fox to dig into a run. I feel that any one who has a "pet" is taking on the responsibility of another life and should honour that.


 Maus showing joy in running and jumping for the first time in his life.