Rabbit Housing

My rabbits aren't house pets, but they are well looked after and have good housing. They all have things to chew, toys to play with, and places to sit off the wire. Most also have litter pans that get changed regularly (some refuse to use them). Most have places to hide - I occasionally get a bunny that insists on using every house I try to give them as a bathroom. With these, I usually remove all hidey-holes for a while. I always try them again after a while to see if they've changed their minds.

They all have 2 food dishes - one for their regular pellets, and another for treats (usually mixed grains). In the summer they get fresh cut grass (our grass has lots of yummy dandelions, clovers, and other 'weeds'), and in the winter they get alfalfa hay cubes as well as baled hay.

In the winter, they live in cages in a largely unheated garage. Rabbits actually prefer cooler temperatures. 12°C / 53°F is about ideal for a rabbit. I have several small heaters and they provide enough heat to keep their water from freezing in all but the very coldest of days. On the very coldest of days, I have a double set of water bottles and I switch frozen ones for thawed ones twice a day.

I have built barriers all around inside the rabbitry so that I can let a rabbit run around freely and safely when I am doing chores. I also have several “playpens” and they get time in the playpens so they can run, dig, and jump.

In the summer, I have outdoor hutches complete with awnings to provide shade and a misting system I can run when it gets too hot. That said, the last few summers have been SO hot that I have kept the rabbits indoors year-round. They have a little less space, but they are MUCH cooler. On the hottest days, when it's above 30 outside, it is at LEAST 10°C cooler inside. When I check on them, they are all hanging out comfortably. It's more work for me, but they are happier, and that's important!

The requirements for rabbit housing sizes as recommended by The American Rabbit Breeders Association can be found here: ARBA Recommendations for the Care of Rabbits and Cavies. I raise Rex, who have mature weights of 7-10 lb. (although some of mine grow to over 11 lb.). According to ARBA, their housing should be as follows:

  • ALL: minimum height of cage: 14“
  • Adults: 4 sq. ft. floor space
  • Female Rabbit with her Litter: 6 sq. ft.

The Canadian requirements are more stringent. For Rex they are as follows:

Minumum Height Minumum Height (w/ platform) Minumum Floor Space
Mature Bucks 45 cm
(17.7 in)
60 cm
(23.6 in)
0.46 m² (4.95 ft²) (That's a 24 x 30 cage.)
Jr. Bucks 12-16 wk. 40 cm
(15.7 in)
60 cm
(23.6 in)
0.125 m² (1.35 ft²)
Doe w/ kits < 3wks. 40 cm
(15.7 in)
60 cm
(23.6 in)
0.36 m² (3.88 ft²)
Doe w/ Kits > 3 wks 40 cm
(15.7 in)
60 cm
(23.6 in)
0.46 m² (4.95 ft²)
Open Does 40 cm
(15.7 in)
60 cm
(23.6 in)
0.125 m² (1.35 ft²)/doe;
Must not exceed 5 kg/0.125 m²
Fryers 40 cm
(15.7 in)
60 cm
(23.6 in)
0.0625 m²/fryer (0.67 ft²/fryer)
Must not exceed 40; kg/m² (8.2 lb/ft²)

For reference, ALL of our indoor cages are a minimum of 18” high, and the outdoor ones are a minimum of 20“ high. As I understand it, what they mean by platform is the kinds of cages that look like they have an upstairs and a downstairs.
With the exception of our smallest, temporary holding cage, all of our cages are a minimum of 5 square feet. Our largest indoor pens are 16 Sq. ft. (not counting shelves), and our largest outdoor pens are 20 sq. ft. (not counting shelves).

If you have rabbits that live outside and the weather goes below freezing in the winter, I recommend using simple plastic dishes like this one for water. They are inexpensive, so can be replaced if they get chewed or break, and if the water freezes solid it is easy to pop the ice out.

Toys are important for your bunnies. Almost any hard plastic toy will work. Also clean wood (no cedar - it can be toxic).I've used 'megablocks', hard plastic cat toys (many bunnies love those cat balls with bells inside), table tennis and golf balls (practice and regulation), practice hockey balls and pucks, toy traffic cones, baby plastic links, and various other baby & building toys found at second-hand stores.

Be sure to replace toys and chew sticks when they become soiled or too chewed.

For identification, I have ID cards that I put in badge holders, as well as livestock ear tags that I write on and attach to the cages and pens. As you can see, they can be used to mark cages - such as a doe that is especially protective of her new litter. I use green tags to mark a cage or pen that has more than one rabbit in it. If it is a doe with a litter, the number tells me how many babies are in the litter. If it is a cage with a bunch of juniors in it, the tag tells me how many.

Livestock tags come in many different colours and do not fade outside, so you can colour code things. This is how I use them:

  • litters (green tags)
  • rabbits that are due (orange tags)
  • rabbits getting medication (pink tags)
  • misc (white tags with details written on the tag)

I use permanent markers to write on them. If they are used outside, they will need to be 're-inked' from time to time.

For litter tags - I write a different number on each side so I don't need so many tags. Just attach the tag to the cage so the correct number faces out (using a shower curtain ring, see below).

These are a few tools and do-dads that I have found especially useful.

Shower curtain rings. These are the cheapest possible - all metal rings. They have dozens of uses around the rabbitry. I buy a package whenever I find them. I use them:

  • to hang tags from the cages
  • as salt-wheel holders (just dispose of them when they get rusty)
  • to attach wires or cables to a cage so they don't hang free (I have lighting above may cages and like to keep the wires from swinging around)
  • to make an adjustable chain for hanging heat lamps
  • to hold platforms, etc. in place inside cages and pens.

A long-handled drywall plaster scraper. Perfect for cleaning out cages, scraping wooden platforms, cage wire (above and below), etc. I even use it to unplug feeders that have gotten wet due to rain or snow (I lift the lid and jam the scraper down until the jam clears).

  • care/housing.txt
  • Last modified: 2018/08/01 15:52
  • by becker