The days of bunnies being kept in small hutches at the bottom of the garden are over!
Or they should be anyway.
Barks & Bunnies hope this blog will help make it a thing of the past along with other campaigns like the RWAF's 'A Hutch Is Not Enough'.
But if a hutch at the bottom of the garden isn't the right thing for them what is? What sort of home/hutch does a bunny really need so they can be happy?
According to the RWAF wild rabbits can cover an area the size of 30 football pitches every day by running, playing and foraging for food.
Domesticated rabbits require much the same amount of exercise and need to be able to move freely with space to freely explore and develop their personalities - rabbits have amazing personalities!
It's true there are minimum size guidelines but before we explain them it's worth remembering that these are just the minimum, this is the smallest amount of space that is recommended. So imagine what you could do if you exceed it!
According to Save a Fluff and the RWAF the minimum size requirement should be no less than 6ft x 2ft x 2ft and a separate run should also be securely attached to give an additional 8ft x 4ft x 4ft.
Your rabbit should really be able to fully stretch standing upwards on their back legs (how would you like to have to stand hunched over all day?), they should comfortably be able to lie stretched out and also have the space to do at least 3 hops which is likely to require 6-7ft of space.
These two spaces should really be securely attached to one another so that your bunnies can decide where they want to be and when, whether that's tucked up inside or sat out sniffing the breeze and exploring their run.
Some would have you believe that flat packed hutches which you can purchase in store or online provide ideal accommodation. They often have sweet names and are called 'mansion' or 'deluxe large' but nearly all of these hutches fail to provide even the recommended MINIMUM space needed.
A good rabbit hutch puts your bunnies welfare first.
You should look for a well built, solid and secure construction.
Your hutch will need a strong wire-mesh door and a partitioned sleeping area to give your bunny privacy and a dark place to hide in if they want.
If buying a two or even three-storey hutch make sure the ramp is angled gently enough that your rabbit can use it comfortably now, and as they get older in years. Also, ensure your rabbit won't hit their back on the next level as they use their ramp.
Look for a hutch that has raised legs keeping it off the ground to help protect from damp weather and deter vermin.
Make sure the roof is well felted and sloped to allow water run off, and place the hutch in a sheltered area out of direct sunlight or driving snow and rain.
Outdoor hutches should always be on raised legs or kept off the ground somehow in order to give protection from damp weather, and to deter vermin.
Give your rabbits space to hide from predators and make sure any wire mesh is robust and that all doors, roofs and any other openings are secure to prevent intruders getting in. Foxes can dig under to get into an outdoor rabbit run so if your run is located on grass rather than a patio consider digging down and laying some mesh (don't just lay mesh over the grass because your rabbit could get their feet caught).
More and more rabbit owners are moving away from purchasing a traditional hutch.
A growing number of rabbits now have entire sheds to call their own!
(Found on the rabbitrehome forum)
Providing your bunny with a home like this has many advantages over what is considered a tradition hutch including a heavy, solid & safe construction, a huge amount of space (well over the minimum requirements) and somewhere that you can go and sit with them.
Have a look at the Best 4 Bunny Pinterest page and let your imagination run wild!
Some of you may already know that Barks & Bunnies was originally a business specifically making handmade dog treats. We were inspired by our own Golden Retriever Albie who suffers from Colitis, a very difficult condition to live with, and I should know because I have it too - well the human version anyway!