Not only on rabbit nutrition, but also on the subject of posture, there are many myths that I would like to address here.
“Keeping rabbits in cages is species-appropriate when they get their daily exercise.”
The cages became bigger and bigger with time. In former times a 60cm long cage was “really big”, today 160cm long cages are coming onto the market. Originally rabbits were not kept in cages, but as so-called “cow hares” between other big herbivores (horses, cows…), they ate together with the big animals from the crop and moved freely. They were given as much space as a horse. From the middle of the 19th century, industry discovered the rabbit and containers and wires for rabbits were brought onto the market. The rabbit was quartered as a farm animal in small stables at low cost and in a labour-saving manner.
However, the actual cage-housing of the rabbit comes from the laboratory animal husbandry. They were looking for practical, space-saving and hygienic accommodation for the popular laboratory animal. Today it is known that these laboratory animals are unprotective to animals, i.e. cruelty to animals. The pet industry adopted laboratory cages and easily adapted them to the needs of their owners. While laboratory animals have long been openly talked about cruelty to animals, rabbit cages for private keeping are still socially tolerated. However, they were never developed to keep an animal “species-appropriate” but only under the aspects of hygiene and space-saving and easy to maintain housing.
Animal protection societies demand unanimously several square meters of surface area for rabbits, since these orinetierten themselves never at the laboratory attitude, but at the needs of the animals. Rabbits are active at dusk or alternately. Therefore they need particularly at night and in the early morning and late evening hours much run out. A cage does not make it possible to move in a species-appropriate way or to keep a group of animals in a species-appropriate way, since it was developed in the laboratory for individual keeping. Group housing in the cage can suddenly lead to severe injuries, as quarrelling animals cannot avoid each other and the “sitting close to each other” provokes quarrels. An attitude, which does not allow the animal to behave in all ways or accepts injuries, violates the Animal Protection Act: How much space do rabbits need?
“The rabbit shelter must be well insulated.”
A shelter belongs to every rabbit outside enclosure. Often you can see complicated building instructions for the insulation of these huts. But is insulation of these huts at all reasonable and necessary?
It does not make sense, because the insulation accumulates heat and moisture in the hut. The heat makes the hut unusable in summer for the rabbits and the keeper (food & water supply in the hut) and the humidity leads to a fast mould formation, also with good ventilation. Mould formation in the rabbit enclosure is unhealthy for rabbits.
It is also not necessary, because rabbits are hardly sensitive to cold, heat causes them much more trouble. It is more important to protect them from moisture and draughts! This is convertible by an absolutely wind- and rainproof hut, which is often cleaned with absorbent bedding, so that no humidity forms in the interior. In addition, rabbits need enough space in winter to stay vital and fit.
Learn more: Outdoor keeping: The rabbit hutch
“Rabbits can only be relocated after the last night frosts in spring or a little later.”
You have to decide which rabbit to keep: Would you like to keep your rabbits inside or outside? Both are possible.
Some books and internet addresses recommend moving the rabbit outside only in spring or in summer, but not in autumn, winter or before the last night frosts at the beginning of the year.
I have resettled many rabbits in winter. Without problems. But you have to know how!
Of course it is not possible to put a rabbit living inside (20 degrees living room temperature) at -30 degrees suddenly outside! It is important that the rabbit is slowly accustomed to these temperatures. This is not only possible in summer but also in winter. For example by heating the room in which the rabbits live first less, then no longer at all. Afterwards, one opens the windows during the day, then also in mild nights. The rabbits can now also go outside during the day. And days later they can stay outside in a milder period, even overnight.
The temperature change in the interior stimulates the coat change, so that the rabbits get a winter coat. But some indoor rabbits already have the denser winter coat before, when kept purely inside. With these animals it is then only about the pure, slow habituation to other temperatures.
Such an adaptation is no different than the natural “habituation” over the summer, autumn and winter…