Rabbits are quick. They love to run about. It's a natural part of their behaviour. They jump and twist in the air when they are happy and feeling playful.
Wild rabbits run about, on average, 3 miles each day. Pet rabbits, outdoor and indoor rabbits, would love this amount of freedom too, but that much space is not always possible to give.
However, we can follow some proven guidelines on space and exercise, without putting them in danger.
The rabbit house should provide shelter and a place to sleep, but the house should not be the only living space. A rabbit's run space is a vital part of a rabbit's fundamental right to be 'a rabbit' and good shelter and run space is a requirement by law, under the animal welfare act of 2006.
Rabbits need regular and frequent opportunities to exercise. Make sure your rabbits have opportunities to exercise every day to stay fit and healthy.
Here are some more pages showing the importance of space when raising happy, healthy bunny rabbits...
How much space do rabbits need?
Rabbits are active animals. They need to run, jump and play, it's part of their nature. They need the opportunity to hop, run, jump, dig, stand fully upright on their back legs and stretch out fully when lying down.
What is a Binky?
Binkys are high in the air, twisty jumps that a rabbit does to show excitement and happiness.
This short clip captures the essence of a binky and highlights the importance of lots of space to a happy, healthy bunny...
How long is a rabbit hop?
It is commonly accepted that a rabbit should have space for 3 hops in their home and exercise areas, but it is also greatly underestimated just how far 3 hops is. Tests show that 3 hops from an average sized rabbit covers 6-7 feet!
The official world record for a rabbit long jump (one single jump/hop) is 3 metres (just less than 10 foot). Wild rabbits are commonly seen jumping and covering a ground space of at least 15 feet in open fields.
If you want to see just how much space a happy rabbit would really like, check out this video of rabbits doing the long jump at a show competition.
This gives you and idea of how long only one bunny hop really is!
How much exercise time do rabbits need?
Rabbits need a minimum of 3 hours 'free-range' time each day for them to run about, stretch their legs and interact with other rabbits socially. Social interaction also includes the rabbit owner and family members.
Rabbits are crepuscular which means they are most active at dawn and dusk. This is because, in the wild, rabbits have learned that these times are the safest to a graze, socialize and play, as predators are easier to spot when the sun is low.
Domestic rabbits follow a similar pattern. They usually wake up with the dawn and stay active until about mid morning. When they are active they are eating, foraging, digging, playing and grooming. They also like to investigate new things, follow you around or charge about burning off energy. Very much like a young, boisterous child!
Mid to late morning, they will go back to their sleeping
area to rest. They may go to the toilet or munch on some hay but often they just sleep for hours, sometimes stretched
out on their side but often just in a 'bun loaf' position, ears flat against their back, feet tucked in and eyes half closed. Some rabbits sleep like this with their eyes open, so you may not even realize they are actually asleep. Again, an anti-predatory trait picked up from their wild cousins.
In the early evening, they wake and emerge to go to the toilet, groom, forage for food and socialize. Evenings tend to be their most sociable time. They are more likely to want strokes and cuddles at this time. But even after you are fast asleep in bed, your rabbits will still be active, making the access to free run space all the more important.
Do indoor rabbits need time outdoors?
Most rabbit owners know that rabbits make great indoor house pets because of their natural body clocks. Being most active in the mornings and evenings mean they are asleep all day when you are at work etc and are ready for fun when you are around.
Of course, keeping your bunnies as 'house rabbits' makes it easier to provide space as lucky indoor rabbits usually get complete run of your house. Some rabbit owners like to designated certain rooms to their rabbits, but as long as they have access to lots of run space, they will be healthy and happy.
Keeping them inside also keeps them safe from predators but rabbits prefer being outside and given the choice they would naturally choose to live outside.
Ideally a house rabbit should be given access to an outside exercise area, preferably with grass and plants for them to forage and nibble at.
However, if you are going to let them exercise loose in the garden you must
make sure your garden is bunny-proofed, meaning it is safe from
predators, no escape routes and they are prevented from eating any poisonous plants.
What examples can I follow for good rabbit runs?
Here are some great examples of good sized, well made rabbit runs for outdoor and indoor bunnies...
For more images of unique rabbit housing and run spaces have a look at my Pinterest board.
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