Given a choice rabbits will almost always prefer being outside.
Those that don't like being outside probably haven't had the opportunity to really 'experience' it. Avid indoor dwellers take comfort in the safety that is offered to them indoors. This environment is familiar. The area they occupy inside is what they know and understand to be the equivalent of a burrow.
There are some lucky bunnies who benefit from both indoor and outdoor life, but the issue with many rabbit enthusiasts is not the 'indoor vs outdoor' debate at all.
The issue that most rabbit owners have is about, SPACE.
The SIZE of the home, hutch, room, cage, shed, or to use a bunny term, 'burrow', etc, is the real topic of hot debate.
So, how much space do bunnies need?
Only huge rabbit hutch will do, and by huge, I mean at least 6 foot .
Bigger, if you have more than one rabbit.
Well, there are lots of very valid reasons and if you don't want to take my word for it, then have a quick read of this page and come back to me here.
Let's take a look at the some of the most popular rabbit hutches on the market sold by some of the major retailers...
readers may have seen the
slogan 'A hutch is never enough' as
part of a worldwide campaign to raise awareness on the living
conditions of domestic pet rabbits. But the word 'hutch' is not really a
good word, and while the statement is making it clear that 'hutches'
are not enough, the words do still state that a 'hutch' is present.
It implies that you can indeed have a hutch, but just that you need
to add more. More of what, is not actually clear.
The intention of this statement is honourable, of course, but most loving, caring, responsible pet rabbit owners agree that a 'hutch' is no good at all. You can add all the runs, levels and play areas you like, you still have a 'hutch'. This is like putting a Formula One racing driver on the circuit at Brands Hatch and then giving them three wheeled Reliant Robin to drive round the race track in.
If you go back in time, about 110 years or so, you will see that the traditional style 'rabbit hutch' was really just a pantry. A place where a rabbit was kept to get fat before going in to the pot. They were intentionally restricted – the fatter the rabbit, the bigger the meal.
interesting to note
that the word 'hutch' comes from the French word 'huche', meaning, a
chest on four legs. Hundreds of years ago people used to convert old
tea chests into 'storage' areas for rabbits. These traditional shaped
hutches were basically a small crate, sometimes on legs, and adapted
to have two very small compartments, one closed, and one with a bit
of mesh on the front. Many of these little rabbit crates are depicted
in old Victorian paintings. Most were placed on the floor of an out
building or put on legs and tucked away at the bottom of the
vegetable patch. If there were any legs on these converted crates,
they were only added to give the rabbit owner ease of access, and not
for any health benefit of the rabbit.
advancement of modern packaging, these wooden boxes and barrels were
no longer available and
cardboard became the
preferred packing material of the day, but this soft card was
completely useless as a rabbit hutch, it just collapsed when it got
wet. However, the
tradition stuck. It
became a habit. People needed to keep their rabbits in something and
the habit of keeping rabbits in a small 'hutch' was engrained in the
minds of rabbit owners. Companies started manufacturing 'tea
chest-like' containers specifically for rabbits. These cramped
containers were made to meet the
But Why? Why, after over 140 years, do some people still think this type of accommodation is satisfactory to give pet rabbits? Dogs and cats were never this misunderstood. In fact cats were worshipped in long distant times by many world cultures. For many, the thought of keeping a cat boxed up for most of it's life is immediately dismissed as abhorrent. Dog owners that confine their animals to small kennels with inadequate space to move, run and play, are treated as performing a felonious act, animals are seized and re-homed by pet charities and organizations, and owners may then be prosecuted for cruelty.
Yet rabbits, even with the statistic of being Britain's 3rd most popular pet
after the dog and the cat, continue to be overlooked. Everywhere, we still discover modified crates at
the bottom of gardens with solitary, sad rabbits in them,
sitting, motionless for hours and hours on end. Miserable, lonely and
The rabbit you see in this tiny hutch, is without a companion, stretching space or hopping room. There is nowhere for the rabbit to shelter from the full sun and it is of such a build that it would not protect against predators. This is not how a rabbit should live.
OK - so let's take a look at some real alternatives.
Rabbit hutches that aren't just 'hutches', but real rabbit 'homes'.
Rabbit housing that will last a lifetime, well made, spacious bunny housing that will provide everything your precious little buns could ever need....
From here on in, I will refer to 'rabbit hutches' as 'rabbit houses', because, this is indeed, what they should be.
The dictionary describes the word 'house' to mean 'a building used as a home'. By definition, the word building means something more than a flat packed, flimsy ply-wood box and the top meanings of the word 'home' are:
I know I would want my rabbits to feel like their house was their 'home', especially where affections are centred!
Now, as far as I'm concerned, you just can't beat a hand crafted, made to measure rabbit house.
There are some beautiful handmade rabbit homes out there, that are amazing quality, and are not made on mass. But you really have to search high and low for these wonderful creations and the clever small business people who are truly passionate about their skill and craft.
Take a look at the sizes, quality and pricing of the following rabbit homes, compared to the tiny, high priced rabbit hutches the large retail chains are offering, and...
See what I mean!
There should be no compromise when it comes to your rabbit's home. These rabbit homes are built to last!
Buying a cheap, badly made rabbit hutch is just plain daft and a false economy.
If an average pet shop or pet supermarket rabbit hutch lasts at best up to 4 years and costs £120 to buy new, then repairs, covers, additions and treatments are approximately £50 each year to keep it in a condition that is sufficient to protect and shelter rabbits, then in 8 years (the current average age of a domestic pet rabbit) we can deduce the overall price for buying a cheap rabbit 'hutch'...
And that's only for 8 years, a healthy rabbit should live in to their teenage years so the price is much higher in reality. Add in the fact that your rabbits are also not at all comfortable and will live an unhappy life in an extremely cramped tiny hutch and the benefits of buying cheap are diminished.
So for the same price, or in many cases much less, you can delight in the ownership of a wonderful hand-crafted creation like the ones above.
It just makes sense to me!
PLUS they will last over 10 years, probably a lot more if you look after it.
With the same amount of attention you give to your garden shed every year, you can make these luxury rabbit homes last even longer and probably way past 15 years.
If you think about it, they work out far cheaper!
Smash it Up
In fact the English language uses the phrase 'rabbit hutch' to convey a meaning of 'small', 'tiny', 'cramped', etc. E.g. "The houses on this road are like rabbit hutches."
This is why I'd like to smash the concept of the words 'rabbit hutch', out of the minds of rabbit owners and move towards some alternatives; 'rabbit house', 'rabbit housing', and even better, 'rabbit home'! Of course there's ...shed, cage, condo, etc too, but you get my drift ;-)
Break it Down
So I'm going to give you a break down - some thoughtful considerations, a few inspirational concepts and wonderful ideas to smash up the notion of the dreadful 'hutch' - and, by the way, this is by request, the rabbits asked me to do it:
There are always alternatives available to the traditional type rabbit hutch. With a little ingenuity you can turn a chicken house into a great rabbit house, a children's playhouse into a perfect bunny pad and a common old garden shed can have a makeover to a happy-hoppy home too.
Just take a look at these pictures and you'll see what I mean...
You can get these barrels or vats from a local brewery or take a look online. They are everywhere! They don't take much converting either, most are made from solid oak too.
Hoppy Holiday Chalet
I love this one, the position is great as well, with great protection and shading from the overhanging trees. I love the fact the rabbits all have window seats around the edge of the house too.
This is just one question, there are lots that come to mind on the subject of rabbit hutches, so why not have your say on what you have read here.
Have you got anything in response to these questions?...
There are many issues around proper rabbit housing and some topics raise more questions than they answer. If you are passionate about your bunnies, please share your thoughts or questions below... We really would love to hear from you!
Do you have a great rabbit home you'd like to share with us?
As more and more people realize that a 'Hutch is Not Enough', rabbit owners are coming up with some really creative solutions to their rabbit housing.
Some are amazing structures of craftsmanship while others have a simplistic, yet practical purpose, but one thing is for sure - they're all better than the tiny hutches we've been so used to seeing in the past.
Unfortunately, these crates on legs are still being sold on the Internet and in pet shops, so lets show potential new rabbit owners that there is another way!
I've come across a few people that have been to pet shops and voiced their opinions about these dreadfully small hutches and most don't get anywhere. Have you experienced the same? Perhaps a 'Name-and-Shame-the-Shop' might help?
Share your pictures or tell us a story, I'd love to hear from you. No matter how small your contribution, it helps the general cause, Hutches Out - Houses In! ;-)
Share your views, points, tit-bits and tales! (Remember, you don't have to have a Facebook account to make a comment.)
All input is good, no matter how small ;-) Thank-you.