Rabbit keeping in the garden
Who has the possibility for it, should accommodate its rabbits in the open air. An outside attitude is summer like winter possible, however it requires some precautions around the rabbits a pleasant habitat to create.
General requirements to a habitat for rabbits:
- sufficient size: minimum dimensions for rabbits
- sun, shade and fresh air (Attention: the sun wanders!)
- weather protection (against wind, rain, snow, draughts…)
- varied, species-appropriate and interesting facilities, environmental incentives
outside attitude rabbit15. Safety from enemies and escape
Photos of outdoor enclosures for rabbits
No rabbit wants to live in a rabbit hutch!
Even if this type of keeping is widespread – no rabbit wants to be locked up in a rabbit hutch. The stable attitude is for rabbits a torture:
- In a stable the rabbits cannot move species-appropriately, they can neither run, nor hooks strike, dig, the other rabbits from the way go, itself hunt or times correctly gas give.
- Often it comes to strong injuries or incompatibilities by the narrowness. Similar to when we are locked up with a good friend in a guest toilet, the lack of space often leads to aggressions with animals as well. The animals cannot evade or retreat.
- Rabbits are interactive, i.e. they do not sleep through at night (as we humans or many other animals do) but are also very active at night. Therefore they need a lot of space day and night.
- Many rabbits develop behavioural disturbances out of boredom and engage in undesirable ways, e.g. by gnawing at the stable from the inside, nibbling at the lattice, licking a spot in the fur or performing stereotypical movements.
- The stable-attitude leads to spinal column-curvatures and joint-damages with the movement-joyful animals. For example, the thigh bone structure is not completely formed and the permanent incorrect posture leads to pathological curvature of the spinal column. Digestive problems often occur due to lack of exercise.
- A stable becomes a mini oven in summer and a refrigerator in winter. These animals are trapped in it and at the mercy of the temperatures, cannot warm up through movement and activity.
The rabbit enclosure
A rabbit quarter is not just a “shelter” but a habitat for many years. Therefore, it should be appropriately species-appropriate.
To each rabbit enclosure belongs a shelter and a large, marten-safe, partially roofed Enclosure. Both must be firmly connected, so that the rabbits can choose where they want to stay at any time.
The enclosure should be large enough to accommodate the rabbits’ urge to move. So that the rabbits can also run and romp. We recommend a minimum size of 10 m² or for rabbits that really every day from morning to evening a very large free run may use and therefore only at night are locked, at least 4-6 m² night enclosure area. See minimum dimensions.
We recommend roofing part of the enclosure. Many rabbits prefer to sit under one roof and avoid going to the shelter. They also have dry areas even in bad weather. It’s also easier to keep the enclosure clean and hygienic and there’s more space for furniture that isn’t weatherproof. This roofing is usually also a good shade in summer, but even better would be natural shade from trees (Attention! The sun is wandering). Well suited as a roof are corrugated sheets or double-webbed sheets.
So that the basic needs of the rabbits are considered, they need in the enclosure:
- Raised seating areas (floors, house roofs)
- A bottle crate
- Hiding places
- Snacks (fresh twigs, natural materials, fresh fodder)
- Cosy places, scattered areas
- Different materials (bedding, stone slabs, wood…)
- Unadjusted surface for the race
In order to protect them from predators, the freewheel must be built absolutely marten-proof on all sides – also downwards and upwards! Only aviary wire is marten-proof, the normal rabbit wire is not. By the way, nets are not marten-proof. It is advisable to lay paving slabs downwards, as these are hygienic and good protection against sinking into a bottle. The rabbits like stone slabs very much, even if they look cold and uncomfortable. Who would like to leave nature meadow in its permanent enclosure, has usually after quite short time only mud and collapsed corridors. However, natural meadows can be used during the day as a base for freewheeling.
Tips for enclosure construction (marten safety, materials, subsoil, enclosure type…)
Bought rabbit enclosures
Is a shed, garden house, barn or garage suitable as accommodation?
Closed quarters are only suitable if either an enclosure can be used by the rabbits around the clock, or during the day a large free run area, the garden or an enclosure can be entered in addition to the closed room. During the day the rabbits must never be locked up in such an enclosure. An exception can be very large “rooms” with good air circulation and windows/daylight.
A shelter is indispensable, so that the rabbits can protect themselves against weather influences. The rabbits visit this area independently if it is too cold, draughty or wet for them. They may never be locked up in such a hut!
What can I use as a shelter?
This can also be a commercial stable or a dog kennel. However, these stables are usually quite windy and must be retrofitted (marten-proof lock, protruding roof, thicker rear wall, etc.). Their lifespan is usually quite short. We made good experiences with this stable and with dog kennels. It is also possible to build a shelter yourself. For a sufficient air circulation air holes must be drilled in the upper range, these may not be attached on opposite sides (and not at the weather side) around draught to avoid.
It is important that they are absolutely wind- and rainproof and not too big, so that the rabbits can heat the interior with their body temperature in winter. A floor space of min. 100 x 50 cm is sufficient for two dwarf rabbits. With larger groups or large breeds a correspondingly larger base area is necessary. It can also be meaningful to offer several huts.
Making the shelter winterproof
If the stables have a grid, you should install a plexiglass or a wooden plate in front of it in winter, or hang a blanket or a carpet in front of it when it is cold. The hut should also be generously padded with hay and straw.
These stables don’t have to be insulated, even plastic stall covers, which you can buy in the shops, are not useful. Both prevent the ventilation, thereby bad air and humidity accumulate, it comes to health-damaging mold formation and many rabbits fall ill with skin fungi.
It is indispensable to have a cuddly partner to warm up the shelter, individual rabbits freeze in winter. Never rabbits in a stable may be locked up, that would be equivalent to a stay in a small refrigerator. Rabbits need a lot of space, variety and conspecifics so that they are fit and active in winter, can move around a lot and keep warm.
Rabbit in the garden happy and healthy over winter
Additional exercise for during the day?
Rabbits are very agile and alert animals that need a lot of variety and space. That’s why they can hardly be accommodated with a few square meters of enclosure. This makes it all the more important for them to be given outdoor exercise.
Many keepers let their rabbits run during the day in their densely fenced and well planted and structured garden. It is also possible to connect a flexible enclosure on the meadow to the fixed enclosure. Well suited for this purpose are enclosure elements of 6- or 8-corner enclosures, these can be extended permanently. Many shelters or a net (e.g. a fruit tree net), which is laid over the enclosure, offer protection against birds of prey. To prevent it from sagging, you can drive a pole into the middle and stretch it over it.
Outlet in the garden