With 800,000 pet rabbits in the UK, it’s safe to say that many of The Ralph Site’s friends will share their lives with a lagomorph (rabbits belong to the family Leporidae, of the order Lagomorph).
Today there is a wider understanding of the needs of pet rabbits, and the days of lone rabbits being kept in small hutches are hopefully mostly gone – now a huge range of hutches and runs are available to ensure that there’s always a home to suit your rabbits. We thought it would be useful to remind our readers of the basic requirements when choosing homes for rabbits:
- Rabbits are naturally sociable animals and should not be routinely housed alone. Neutered, male-female pairs are best.
- Did you know that rabbits are ‘crepescular’ (most active at dusk and dawn) – traditionally the times when they are locked up for the night. Ideally your rabbits should have a large, safe enclosure where they can explore at these times.
- Your rabbits should spend at least an hour each day out of the hutch, but aim for more if you can.
- The hutch should be at least large enough to allow your rabbits to stretch up, lie flat out and hop around.
- Place the hutch in a draught free spot that’s dry, away from predators and sheltered from extreme weather.
- The hutch should be lifted off the ground to keep other creatures out of the way.
- Check that catches and locks are sturdy enough to withstand the attention of visiting predators.
- Provide a darkened area for your rabbits to hide in.
- It is totally natural for rabbits to dig, so why not create a soil pile in the run for them to enjoy re-shaping?!
There’s lots more information on the housing and welfare requirements of pet rabbits here.
Hamsters, gerbils and mice are also very popular indoor pets, and they too have specific housing requirements. Here’s a reminder of some of the key points to remember:
- Buy the largest cage you can – your pet will appreciate the space!
- The cage should be comfortable, dry and draught-free, placed in a quiet spot.
- If at all possible, place your pet’s cage in a room where the lights go off at roughly the same time each night.
- Rodents are very sensitive to high frequency sounds that we cannot hear and thus living next to television sets, computer screens, vacuum cleaners or sources of running water can cause stress.
- Choose appropriate bedding and nesting material, avoiding those that can separate into thin strands (cotton wool) as your pet may get caught up in the fibres or suffer with internal problems if they are digested.
- Naturally rodents live in deep burrows – provide enough depth of wood shavings and / or shredded paper for your pet to dig and burrow into.
- Cages with tunnels and tubes will help replicate the natural environment and keep your pet stimulated and well exercised.
More information can be found here.
Until next time, best wishes from Shailen and The Ralph Site team
The Ralph Site, non-profit pet loss support
Please note: The Ralph Site is not affiliated with the third-party organisations in any of the links shared here, and the views, ideas and suggestions expressed in this and other blogs are simply shared with the intention of helping you, our friends, take care of the special animals in your lives.