Advanced search

First time rabbit owner questions...

(34 Posts)
Icantthinkofagoodusername Fri 31-Jul-15 17:09:58

We pick up our buns next Wed. They will be outdoor buns, one of each sex. Will be 10 weeks when we bring them home. I've read lots online but still a bit unsure of a few things -

What are your timings for opening/closing the hutch and feeding? Does this change between seasons with daylight hours?

I've bought a litter tray but have read online that you litter train after neutering. Is there any point putting the tray in now?

I've got pvc covered chicken wire for going on the grass to prevent digging and foxes. I've also bought Lino for lining the living part of the hutch. Do I put the sawdust on top of that then hay? Do I only do this in the sleeping bit or both bits upstairs?

This is our hutch

I want to get a run to add to the left hand side. Does this have to be wooden or can we go for an all-metal one? I'll line the bottom with chicken wire either way.

Really nervous about this! I've done loads of reading so I know it's going to be hard work. Be really grateful for answers to the above and any other general advice x

Icantthinkofagoodusername Fri 31-Jul-15 22:33:33

Anyone? Please... smile

FernieB Fri 31-Jul-15 22:38:40

I've only had indoor buns so no real experience of hutches/runs.

Feeding etc, - just do it when it's convenient for you. If you pick roughly the same time every day, they do get used to the routine. I would stick a litter tray in from the start. My Current Bun had litter trained himself before he was neutered. He's never had a single mishap!

I line the cage with newspaper and then stick hay in his hidey hole.

Hope you enjoy your bunnies - they are a lot of work but so cute.

Ragusa Fri 31-Jul-15 22:47:24

I think the wire will need to go under the soil if you get my drift, as otherwise it's going to hurt their feet. It needs to extend beyond the run and go up at a kind of angle. Also, it needs to be super strong stuff, not just regular chicken wire as the foxes can easily get through that.

We have a lowish metal run (e.g, one that I can't stand up in) for ours and to be honest it's a right pain because when we put them inside at night they will. not. be. caught! Usually I have to climb into the run and catch them that way. Mightn't be such a problem if you're going to leave them out at night.

Re bedding/ lining cage, you can use newspaper topped with wood shavings but not sawdust - this can cause respiratory problems.

One of the most vital things to do if you're having outdoor rabbits in summer is to paint their bums with Rearguard (from the vets, it costs a fortune) to protect them from flystrike, which is often fatal and easily contracted if they have runny bums/ are overweight/ not keeping themselves clean for some reason.

Have fun with your buns smile

woollybean Sat 01-Aug-15 00:03:07

Really like your hutch, lucky rabbits! I have a similar one and I put newspaper down in the hideaway part topped with either shavings or hay. I get them up when after my breakfast and put them to bed as it gets dark after having indoor cuddles.
I would put litter trays in as soon as you get them if I were you, my unneutered females both use theirs.
Hope you have a fantastic time with your new bunnies!

teaandcake2016 Sat 01-Aug-15 01:24:19

You sound like a lovely owner to ask what is best for the bunnies!

I had the same hutch as you - I hadn't looked at the measurements and didn't realise how small it was - please do add the run to it As soon as you can.

If you have foxes- please please be aware that the fox can undo the bolt . Also, the indoor hutch bit (with sliding door) is very small so the bunnies can't be put in it at night with the door closed.

Really don't want to put you off- if only more owners were like you and really thought about the bunnies! Just wanted to mention it as from my own experience these were the mistakes we made with the balmoral.

Wishing you a lifetime of happiness with your bunnies smile

ImBrian Sun 02-Aug-15 20:36:54

My boys currently an indoor bunny but as soon as his shed is finished he's off outside as well as getting the snip and finding a missus.

Mines a french lop so a big breed and he has an 8x4 shed with a large run as well as several hours loose in the garden/house a day. I think the recomended size for 2 buns is a 6x2 hutch with an 8x6 run is that's any help. There's a site called a hutch is not enough which is really interesting.

My rabbits not neutered yet but he's litter trained himself within a week and we now have no accidents in the house. He's not quite at the spraying stage yet but hopefully he can get done before that starts!

I feed him breakfast and tea at the same time each day. He only gets a handful of pellets and unlimited hay which he barely touches. At the minute though he grazes a lot of the time so his hay intake should pick up when there's less grass.

Ozzy has sawdust in his inside house as well as a haybox which he uses as a litter tray. In his shed he has Lino down and hay boxes to --refuse to eat --sleep/poo in and a tray for digging about in as well as toys/hidys. The Lino will hopefully make it much easier to clean out!

Good luck with your new buns, they're great pets. Mines fairly dog like and apart from being picked up which he hates is really friendly.

MadAboutMathsMum Mon 03-Aug-15 10:37:35

I have that rabbit hutch and have 2 adjoining runs - one to the end door that just butts up against the hutch, and another that I use tubing to connect. The hutch and first run are on the patio. The tubing connected one goes onto the grass so can be closed off if I'm not about and also so it can be moved about. I have a pair of young male rabbits and they eat the 6ft by 4ft grass area each day (well evening) so I have to move the run daily.
I shut them into the top box each evening after it has gone dark. I just arrive with their rabbit pellets and they zoom back in from wherever they happen to have been at the time. If I leave a very slight gap (a cm or less) they are quite capable of re-opening the inside door again so I tend to leave it almost shut so they are snug at night but they are able to get out in the morning. I usually find them out in the morning when I come to let them out and check their water etc before work.
Mine are being neutered soon. They never use the litter box I put in the bottom of the hutch - well they sit in it and eat hay but not to use it as a toilet. They happily toilet anywhere in the run areas. They are very good in the nest box area though and only go in the back of one of the areas.
In the sleeping area I put down newspaper, then reconstituted cardboard type bedding/litter pellets, then lots of hay.
I'm lucky that both my rabbits love eating hay and grass. I give them an eggcup each of pellets with a little alfalfa hay pellet at night and then fresh veg earlier in the evening. they often also get 'dried' veg in their treat balls.

Orangeanddemons Mon 03-Aug-15 10:43:17

My buns like to sit in their poop tray! A whole hutch and run and they sit together doIng in their litter tray. Tres cute!

Icantthinkofagoodusername Mon 03-Aug-15 20:15:00

Thank you everyone for your replies. I don't feel quite so nervous about it all now. A few more questions though -

Do you tend to have your timings for feeding etc the same with the changing season? Obviously just now it's light til 10pm but in the winter it'll be dark by 4.30 so I'm guessing I should go by time rather than daylight?

The large triangle litter tray I got is too big for the non-sleeping bit of the hutch because of the partition. Do I get a small triangle one which is actually for guineas or a plain rectangle/square tray? Or does it need to have a raised back like the triangle ones?

Final question - what do I with the buns when they get home? Put them on the ground in the hutch or straight into the upstairs area? Will they realise to use the ramp for getting up or down straight away?

Thanks again!

Tiptops Mon 03-Aug-15 20:39:28

Congrats on becoming a new bunny owner! They're great pets and hugely underestimated IMO.

If you've got one of each sex I'd recommend you separate them straight away. The last thing you need is a pregnant rabbit who has mated with a relative. I have B/G litter mates and the boy was attempting to hump his sister only a few days after they came home. The risk isn't worth it. I bonded them back together after they were both neutered.

I'm sorry to say the hutch you've ordered is far, far too small for one rabbit, let alone two. The minimum recommended size is a 6x2x2 hutch with an attached run of 4x8 but your bunnies wil appreciate a much bigger space too. Lots of people don't use hutches at all, they're quite an outdated approach to rabbit keeping; originally designed for rabbits being bred for food with short lifespans and low welfare. Better options are using a shed, or children's playhouse with a run attached. A shed also means you have somewhere dry and warm to spend time with your bunnies all year round. Can you return the hutch and put the money towards a shed? Almost £200 goes a long way towards a shed which is much more healthy and appropriate for your bunnies.

Don't forget vaccinations - these are essential but luckily just one combined injection annually now.

Feeding - should be 80% good high quality hay, 15% vegetables and 5% rabbit pellets. The pellets shouldn't be muesli type. Allen and page natural rabbit pellets are good.

I just use normal cat litter trays for my rabbits and most of them are litter trained (7/10). The ones that did take to using litter trays did so before neutering so well worth popping them in now and getting them started.

MadAboutMathsMum Mon 03-Aug-15 22:29:41

I have put a small 'flat' litter tray inside where the rabbits were naturally using as a toilet as the big one didn't fit. Which is easy to just lift out and change that bit. The big tray sits under the ramp and as I said they snuggle up in there during the day. I haven't had my rabbits long enough to answer about feeding times, although they are getting earlier as the days get shorter.
I put mine in the top to adjust to the new home but it wasn't long before they happily explored the whole hutch. They had no problems with the ramp but one waited for the other to use it a bit before making the trip too. I didn't give access to the extra runs straight away but waited a few days for them to be used to the move. My rabbits hate travelling and were quite quivery when they arrived.
As to the hutch type that one is much bigger than a lot of similar equivalents. I have my rabbits from a rescue who have turned other would be owners away. With the additional runs they were very happy with the amount of space provided for 2 rabbits.

CharlesRyder Mon 03-Aug-15 23:05:26

If rabbits need such acres of space why are eglus held in such high regard I wonder?

I have bought an eglu for the pair of minis we are getting thinking I was doing the best for them! They will be out on the lawn a lot and only really in the eglu when nobody is home. Non the less, for a significant proportion of their time they will be on a 3m x 1m plot- is this unkind?

GooodMythicalMorning Mon 03-Aug-15 23:20:32

New rabbit mum here. We have a mini lop and a lionhead. We think they are girls is there a way to tell? Got their vaccinations and first health check tomorrow so will hopefully find out soon.

We have a blueberry hideaway hutch from pah but we have a seperate run they love and they also love running around our lounge too. I dont like the catches on the hutch though as they are cheap ones and are hard to shut and aren't even lined up properly.

We have the flystrike spray, is this ok or is the other stuff significantly better?

GooodMythicalMorning Mon 03-Aug-15 23:25:09

It took about half an hour for one bun to use the ramp but the other was fine from the start.

Tiptops Mon 03-Aug-15 23:38:52

Charles I think eglu trade on their products looking nice rather than them being suitable for rabbits. The sheltered part is tiny and made of plastic; little oven in sunshine.

Lots of people buy hutches and cages that are far too small for their pets without realising, not helped by the fact they're stocked at most pet stores so it seems normal. We need a big overhaul in education about rabbit welfare, the RWAF do a lot of good work but they are just one small organisation.

Links to more info on eglus for rabbits


And here

Tiptops Mon 03-Aug-15 23:40:11

P.s. If you can return your Eglu or resell it the money you'd get back could do a really good sized shed/ rabbit run. The eglus are so expensive for such a small amount of space.

GooodMythicalMorning Tue 04-Aug-15 00:13:26

Even if the rabbit was a house rabbit and spent most of the time running round the house surely it'd barely have enough room to stretch in one of those Eglu things at bedtime.

GooodMythicalMorning Tue 04-Aug-15 11:29:34

As for run I'd go wooden. Metal gets really hot. I agree with putting something over the top of the mesh if you are going to put it underneath otherwise yes will bd painful on their little feet.

ImBrian Tue 04-Aug-15 17:10:19

Sheds are surprisingly cheap and easy enough to turn into a bunny house. You can pick up second hand ones on gumtree etc.

GooodMythicalMorning Tue 04-Aug-15 21:00:27

Are the bunnies just loose in the shed?

ImBrian Wed 05-Aug-15 22:03:21

Yeah he's loose in there, he has a shelf and a few tables to sit up on and his hay boxes, bed etc. he only sleeps in there and goes in if I'm off to work. He's a large breed though so he needs it.

GooodMythicalMorning Thu 06-Aug-15 12:02:31

Wow if I hadnt have only had a hutch for a few weeks and bought a cover etc I'd have done this instead. It sounds amazing. smile

ImBrian Thu 06-Aug-15 22:09:20

I've always had bunnies in hutches when I was a child and thought if get one for him as well. When I looked into it though most places recommended a shed as french lops grow fairly big. My boyfriend was over the moon to have an excuse to buy himself a bigger shed so bun could have his old one wink

GooodMythicalMorning Thu 06-Aug-15 23:23:46

grin Im not sure how big my mini lop and lionhead girls will get but if they outgrow it im definitely getting a bunny shed.

Join the discussion

Registering is free, easy, and means you can join in the discussion, watch threads, get discounts, win prizes and lots more.

Register now »

Already registered? Log in with: