A rabbit keeping in the apartment generally presupposes the readiness to make compromises. Who decides for the housing attitude, should be ready for it to tolerate also some behaviors of the rabbits (e.g. the Benagen of chair legs or Köttel on the carpet). The housing attitude enables the close contact to the animals and enriches the everyday life.
Posture example photos for the housing attitude
No rabbit wants to live in a cage!
Even if unfortunately many rabbits still have to live in cages – all commercially available cages are cruel to animals, even “very large cages” are too small. No rabbit wants to be locked up in a small prison:
- Even in large cages the rabbits cannot move properly, they can neither run nor hook, dig, avoid the other rabbits, chase each other or really accelerate.
- 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 even with animals. 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 disorders out of boredom and engage in undesirable activities, e.g. gnawing at the stable from the inside, nibbling at the grid, licking a spot in the fur or making stereotypical movements.
- The cage posture leads to spinal curvature and joint damage in the animals that enjoy movement. 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.
Housing appropriate to the species
It is not a matter of “putting the rabbits away”, as it is often described in guidebooks. Rather, it is about living harmoniously together so that both sides are happy.
Rabbit enclosure, rabbit room or free housing?
It depends on the rabbit, the owner and the housing situation, which attitude form is best suitable.
A rabbit enclosure offers the advantage that an area belongs completely to the rabbits and can be arranged accordingly. Straight rabbits which do not become house-trained, very strongly the dwelling destroy or very much alone are, are usually held in a large enclosure. An enclosure can also offer protection from other pets (e.g. dogs).
Very popular are also rabbit rooms which are designed completely according to the needs of the rabbits (e.g. not heated). The advantage of this type of keeping is that the rabbits have a lot of space and also not house-clean or destructive animals can be kept. However, the keepers should stay a lot with their rabbits, otherwise the rabbits live too separated and bored. It would be even better if the door is always open and only a grid is attached. So the rabbits also get what happens outside the room.
The free housing attitude (or also free room attitude) makes a close living together possible between the rabbits and their holders, the rabbits participate actively in the everyday life and occupy themselves by the procedures in the dwelling and the mechanism. Rabbit equipment can be set up usually discreetly in the dwelling. The rabbits have much place and the owner must sacrifice no extra range for the rabbits, which is meaningful straight in small dwellings. However this attitude form is possible only if it is well planned and before the rooms are made rabbit-proof. In addition, the rabbits must be house-trained. For destroyer-rabbits this attitude is less suitable.
Exercise, Freewheel & Activities
Rabbits are very curious and intelligent, they need variety and activity every day to be happy and balanced. Therefore daily exercise or (e.g. in rabbit rooms with a lot of space) at least a period of employment is necessary.
Rabbits want to experience something, participate in the life of their owners and discover and explore new things. Put the time of departure into the activity times of your rabbits (usually early in the morning and late in the evening), so that they can use these also well. Supervise your rabbits if you are not sure whether an unattended free run will work. Eliminate sources of danger in the run-out area and protect your equipment. Train the cleanliness of the room. The rooms should also be equipped with one or two rabbit toys, rabbit snackballwas e.g. shelters, cat scratching trees, twigs, a bottle crate or tunnel. These furnishings can serve as employment if they are regularly exchanged and changed. If you have a balcony or garden, you can also allow the rabbits to run freely there. However, keep in mind that rabbits must never be locked outside in winter, as they must always be able to return to their usual temperature if there is a greater difference between inside and outside temperatures.
Rabbits want to participate actively in life, to get to know what is happening around them. Therefore they should be accommodated in a central room where they spend a lot of time (e.g. living room).
Size and minimum dimensions
Rabbits need a lot of space to be able to move properly and not to be bored. Also in the apartment they should have at least 4m² of unobstructed floor space (without floors) available day and night. In addition, with this size daily exercise is absolutely necessary. If the rabbits should not get daily run out, the rabbit enclosure must be clearly larger.
See: How much space do rabbits need?
Building rabbit enclosures
Rabbit areas are usually built simply and cheaply, if you know how to do it. The best way to create a border is to either set up a free-running enclosure grid (6- or 8-corner enclosures that can be extended at will, available in pet shops or cheaply on Ebay), use a puppy grid or make frames with wood and grid (or alternatively plexiglas/hobby glass) and join them together to form an enclosure. Buy in any case very high grids, because under 80cm each rabbit jumps over the border easily. With spungfreudigen rabbits the lattice should be min. 1 m high. Sensitive floors can be underlaid with a cheap, non-slip PVC floor covering (not completely smooth!), which must be secured at the edges with PVC strips so that it is not gnawed on. On open sides it can be designed simply overlapping, then the rabbits also do not come to the edges. The PVC can be covered with small cotton carpets (so that they fit in the washing machine), which are comfortable and not as slippery as the PVC. These are washed when needed or about once a week. Rabbit enclosure7The area should be arranged rabbit-friendly. With nagefreudigen rabbits it is meaningful to protect also the walls with lattice, Plexiglas or e.g. Bambusteppichen. Here you find further information and Tipps to the building.
Make apartment rabbit-proof
How to make a room or the whole apartment rabbit-proof, so that your equipment is not damaged by the rabbits and all sources of danger for the long ears are eliminated, you learn here.
Important: If the cages are placed in such a way that the rabbits can jump on them, the top of the cage must be covered with a carpet or wooden board so that the rabbits cannot injure themselves when jumping up. Or you can remove the top of the grate completely and just put up the tub. In addition, the grid door should be unhinged or covered (e.g. with a willow bridge) because there the rabbits can get caught with their feet while jumping, which can lead to serious injuries.
Equipment & Accessories
In addition to the basic accessories, the right equipment is also very important so that the rabbits feel comfortable and busy. Please note that there are also accessories that are not suitable for rabbits.
Toilets & Clean rooms
Like cats, rabbits can be house-trained. However they can be educated more badly, rather the owner must adjust itself somewhat to the rabbits. The rabbits themselves choose their favourite pee corners, usually room corners or other edge areas are chosen. At these places cat toilets are set up. Köttel are also sometimes next to house-clean rabbits, so that it is necessary to suck daily. Offer large enough toilets in the corners and at the edges as well as at the feeding place. Protect sensitive floors in the enclosure and in rabbit areas with PVC flooring (which protects the edges from annagen!) or lenoleum.
Hygiene & Odour
Especially in the home hygiene is very important to avoid unwanted odours and a strain on the respiratory tract. It is best to use wood pellets with a layer of hay or straw on top or corn or wood granulate. These litter types bind the smell and the liquid particularly well. Clean the toilets every one to two days and wash them out with warm water and vinegar essence or citric acid.
There are frequent problems with the house-cleaning with apartment rabbits. As is the case with cat and dog keeping, cleanliness education is a difficult subject that requires individual solutions.
The rabbit’s need for nails can also become a problem. Who keeps rabbits in the dwelling, must be clear itself that thereby damage to the mechanism can develop. Rabbits have a natural environment in which they can find nail material in the form of meadow plants, twigs, bark, roots, foliage, etc., constantly and everywhere. Use metal furniture and offer them in many places fresh branches, fresh fodder from nature, boxes of hay and straw, but also seasonal leaves, bark, roots and snow in boxes. Set up a really big crate in which you fill different material for digging. For example, sand or soil, or if the rabbits also use the crate as a toilet, it is better to use it as a toilet. Types of bedding. In addition, keep your rabbits busy. In the apartment the rabbit lacks the environmental stimuli, so it can be that the animals are not busy and destroy the equipment, dig up the toilet or hunt each other. Often it is also to be observed that bored indoor rabbits with little activity nibble off or lick the fur of their partner rabbits or themselves, so that bald spots develop.
If possible, offer exercise on the balcony or in the garden. If it is cold outside, the door must remain open so that the animals can return to their usual temperature at any time. An alternative is the cat flap.
In extreme cases a very large enclosure must be separated from the room or a separate room must be available to the rabbits, which offers a habitat to the rabbits also without run. Some animals are never housebroken and should (if there is no space for a large enclosure) be kept outside. No solution is cage keeping! Who would lock his cat in a cage because it is not housebroken or scratched the armchair?
Make sure you have enough fresh air and light, rabbits need fresh air and enough daylight. The window glass absorbs UVB rays, so the rabbits don’t have them. This causes vitamin D deficiency. Find out how you can prevent this. Air polluted with ammonia, dust or other substances as well as heating air pollutes the immune system and the respiratory tract, so regular ventilation is an absolute must. In addition, care should be taken to ensure a healthy indoor climate and low-dust bedding. Of course, rabbits with their sensitive airways should never be exposed to cigarette smoke.
Many indoor rabbits also have problems with digestion, this is because some indoor rabbits feed their animals only very carefully, over-cautiously and unnaturally. Also indoors rabbits need various branches (fresh weekly!), several hay mountains in different places and daily fresh green fodder, best from nature, so meadow herbs, grasses, tree leaves… In addition, indoor rabbits often have a slowed metabolism and eat unnatural things such as carpet fibers, paint of painted furniture and plastic. Many rabbits also move much less indoors due to a lack of environmental stimuli.