Rabbits can be housed indoors or outdoors. Outdoor rabbit hutches must be secure from cats, dogs and wild animals. The rabbit must feel safe at all times and be able to hide if necessary – remember that the stress from a fox attack can be fatal even if the fox does not touch the rabbit. The hutch and run must be escape-proof – many rabbits enjoy digging and a mesh base hidden in the grass is a good idea if your rabbit shows burrowing tendencies.
A rabbit’s run should be a minimum of 3 hops long and tall enough for them to stand on their hind legs. The length should be multiplied by the number of rabbits you are housing together.
Remember to move your run around so that fresh grass is always available, as this will make up the majority of your rabbits diet (see section on Feeding). In the wild, rabbits would avoid the elements in the form of burrows. It is important to provide a good source of shelter for your rabbit – wind and rain can cause hypothermia in small rabbits. Rabbits are particularly predisposed to pneumonia. Remember that your rabbit needs shelter from the sun too. Rabbits are unable to sweat and so can be susceptible to heat stroke in the hot weather.
Indoor rabbits may be housed in a hutch or cage, or simply a rabbit-proof room. Whichever is chosen it is important that your rabbit has his/her own hiding place where he/she can spend time alone. Remember that rabbits are designed to gnaw and will bite through anything that is in easy reach – this includes telephone wires, the TV aerial and mains cables too! Rabbits should never be left unattended when electricity is involved. Rabbits may also decide to chew carpet, cloth or cushions, all of which should be discouraged as they may cause an intestinal blockage. Provide fruit tree wood for the rabbit to gnaw instead.
Exercise is important for house-rabbits as they are particularly prone to obesity due to inactivity. At a minimum they should have a play session once a day, but outdoor exercise is preferable. This may be in your garden, but if you don’t have one (or your garden is not escape-proof) rabbits can be trained to a harness and taken for walks!
Indoor rabbits can be litter-trained fairly easily. Your rabbit will usually pick one or two places for toileting needs, once you know where these places are simply put a tray in this area and after a while the rabbit will use this out of preference, even if the tray is moved.
All rabbit housing (indoor or out) should be regularly cleaned. Bedding may be wood chips, hay, straw, newspaper, artificial fur or towels (fur or towels should be removed if the rabbit chews them). Soiled bedding should be removed on a daily basis, as an accumulation of urine or faeces will increase the risk of health problems, particularly fly-strike.