To keep your small pet happy and safe, it’s important to make sure that their housing meets their needs. Indeed, by choosing the right hutch and maintaining it properly, you can make a real difference to the wellbeing of your rabbit or guinea pig. There are lots of things to think about so we’ve gathered together our top rabbit hutch ideas into this blog.
- Choose the right location
First things first: where should you put your pet’s hutch? For rabbits and guinea pigs living outside, they’ll need some protection from the elements. This means choosing a spot that’s sheltered from the prevailing wind, and positioning the hutch to avoid draughts and dampness. As well as protecting against bad weather, it’s also important to make sure your pets don’t get too hot in the summertime, so keep the hutch out of direct sunlight as well. A quiet and calm location that doesn’t tend to be disturbed by cats or dogs is ideal.
- Make sure it’s big enough
It’s easy to underestimate the space that rabbits and guinea pigs need. In terms of rabbit hutch dimensions, the hutch should be tall enough so they can stand up on their hind legs with plenty of headroom – as a guide, this means at least 2 feet (60 cm). Length-wise, the hutch should be large enough for your rabbit to take at least three hops, which works out as about 6 feet long for most bunnies. It’s great to provide an even bigger home than this, and for more information on the space that rabbits need, check out our blog. If you’re keeping two rabbits together (as we recommend), the hutch will need to be big enough for them both to lie stretched out and allow each some personal space.
- Set it up for companions to get on well
Both rabbits and guinea pigs are sociable creatures and they’ll be happiest when kept with at least one companion of the same species. To make sure that friends live together in harmony, the hutch must not only big enough for all parties but also set up so they get along without stress. Providing more than one food and water bowl can help prevent bullying, and there should be enough space around these resources so that your pets feel secure.
- Make a cosy area for sleeping
Just like us, rabbits and guinea pigs will want to have separate places for sleeping, eating and toileting. The hutch should have a cosy ‘bedroom’ area where they feel safe and can snuggle up to sleep. To keep this area warm in the rabbit hutch in winter, you can use a heat pad or well-wrapped hot water bottle – see here for more tips on looking after bunnies in cold weather.
- Provide enough good-quality bedding
Bedding will keep your furry friends warm and comfortable, so it’s important to provide a generous amount of it, especially in cold weather. If you choose high-quality absorbent bedding material, this will also wick away moisture and make it easier to keep the hutch clean and dry. There are many bedding options to choose between, and they vary in how comfortable and absorbent they are. Our Tiny Friends Farm Eco Bedding is naturally absorbent and soft on small paws, as well as being light and dust-free. As it’s made from surplus paper it’s environmentally friendly too, helping you do your bit for the planet!
- Clean it out thoroughly and regularly
It’s essential to clean the hutch frequently in order to keep your furry friend happy and healthy. As a guide, do a quick pass every day to clean the toilet areas and remove obvious waste like uneaten fresh food, and then clean the hutch more thoroughly once a week. However, you may need to do a thorough clean more frequently if it gets messy, particularly if you have several pets living together. To keep the hutch as fresh as possible, you can use Keep It Clean – a spray that helps protect against germs and bacteria, as well as reducing pet odours. This spray also helps to reduce the risk of flystrike, a condition that is very dangerous for rabbits.
- Keep it off the ground
If hutches sit directly on the ground, they can easily get waterlogged and moisture can creep into the living space. Raising the hutch helps to keep your pet’s home clean and dry, and also protect against the cold. Many hutches are designed so that they’re elevated a little way off the ground.
- Make sure it’s safe from predators
Hungry predators such as foxes may be able to sniff out your pet when they’re in your garden, so you’ll need to make efforts to protect against these predators. A key tip is to make sure the doors are fastened securely – you can even use a padlock to ensure you fox the foxes! If the hutch has a lift-up lid, you’ll need to make sure this is well-secured too. The hutch must also be sturdy and the wire should be strong enough to be chew-proof. Even if a predator can’t break in, it can be terrifying for your pet to see them approach, so make sure they’ve got a compartment to hide away in that’s enclosed on all sides.
- Check it regularly
The hutch may be perfect when you buy it, but over time it will suffer some wear and tear. It could be damaged by moisture, insects, or even your pet themselves having a bit of a chew! It’s important to keep an eye out for any leaks or weakness that could make it vulnerable to rain and predators. When you find any damage, you can repair it quickly to keep your furry pal safe and secure.
- Add a run
Finally, remember that a hutch should only be part of your rabbit or guinea pig’s home. For your pet to get enough exercise and stimulation, they’ll also need a bigger area to stretch their legs. An outdoor run is ideal in summer – it’s great if this is attached to the hutch, but it can also be separate if that’s more practical. If outdoor runs get muddy and damp in winter, a garage or garden shed may provide a more suitable area for play. Toys, ramps and tunnels can make the run area more interesting and add a bit of fun to your pet’s daily life. If you search for “rabbit hutch ideas” or “rabbit enclosure ideas” to get inspiration online, it’s amazing what you’ll find.
Those are all our top tips on outdoor hutches! If you follow these, you can be confident you’re doing the best for your furry friend to meet their health and welfare needs. But don’t forget that bunnies and guinea pigs can live in the house with us too! If you’d like to learn more about keeping your pet indoors, check out our blog.