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Can you tell me about rabbits please

(29 Posts)
Curlybrunette Sun 27-Nov-16 15:14:11

Hey everyone,

Ds and I have started volunteering at a pet rescue centre and it's only taken us 3 weeks to fall in love with a rabbit! I've got guinea pigs who live indoors but I don't really know much about rabbits so would appreciate your advice, especially the hardest bits, as I would only take them (the centre are going to try and pair the rabbit with another gorgeous bun they've got) if I'm totally sure it's the right thing for us and them.

The main thing that worries me is them being outside. I was chatting to one of the rescue centre ladies and she said that buns are much hardier then pigs, she's got 14 buns and only brings them inside if they are really old, or sick. Are they really ok to be outside all year, even if it's freezing and snowing?

I've been looking at hutches and thought about something like this and then also getting a separate run for more room/change of environment.

We have a kitchen diner so had thought they could come in and have a wander about for a while every day, but I don't want them to live inside (unless they were ill or something and needed extra tlc of course). Our garage only has a tiny window so it's always really dark, it wouldn't be a nice place for them to go into (I know some people move their buns into the garage in really bad weather, I wouldn't think my garage would be a very nice place for them).

I've been reading about rabbits and saw they can be sensitive with changes of temperature, is it ok for them to be outside, then into a warm house and then out again?

So, please tell me about rabbits, the good and the bad so I can decide if it's right for us though I've totally fallen in love already and have put in a bid on a bargain hutch on ebay

BertrandRussell Sun 27-Nov-16 15:29:10

How old are your children?

Thatwaslulu Sun 27-Nov-16 15:37:53

We have a bun who lives outside all the time. We stuff lots of straw into her cage in the colder weather (in addition to the huge amount of hay she has fresh each day) and cover the sides with a tarpaulin that we then pull over the front at night for draft protection. She is always toasty warm when we pet her.

Passthecake30 Sun 27-Nov-16 17:03:56

We've recently got 2 rabbits, my comment on the hutch you've linked to is that the top part is too small if they are confined to that part in bad weather. We've got a double hutch with a run attached at the front, and even then we've had to build another run (about 2m by 2m) for them to go out in a couple of times a day.

The rabbits aren't that expensive to feed (about 35g rabbit pellets a day, tons of hay and veg (mine love stalks off Brocolli, leaves off cauliflower and kale so fairly cheap), you don't need to get expensive rabbit toys, second hand step stalls and boxes are fine, so I would get the biggest hutch that you could afford.

Curlybrunette Sun 27-Nov-16 22:49:55

My boys are 9 & 11, it's my 9 yr old that is animal crazy and has his 3 pigs in his bedroom!
I have spent ages looking online for hutches, some are horrendously small aren't they, advertised for 2 rabbits when it doesn't look big enough for 2 Guinea pigs...

Curlybrunette Sun 27-Nov-16 22:55:28

Passthecake - you said about the top being too small if the weather is bad, this is where I need help! So if it was really bad weather do you keep the buns locked in the hutch bit? Sorry if that's a stupid question! I wasn't sure if they still had access to all of it during the day, but I would insulate the hutch bit so if they did choose to go in there it would be warmer? I thought you would put them just in the hutch bit at night.
Could you post a pic of your type of hutches/runs if you get a mo please x

squiz81 Mon 28-Nov-16 09:14:03

I love having bunnies and think it's great if you can rescue one.

At one stage we had 8 bunnies in 3 separate groups. 2 were inside, but it wasn't feasible to bring all the others in so they were out through snow and storm and were fine. I used tarpaulin to cover exposed parts of run and have lots of extra hay. They huddle together and generate lots of heat. My husband made small wooden floors for them so they were slightly raised off the cold paving slabs.

We are down to 2 buns now and they are nearly 10 I'm bringing them in every night, I probably don't need to but I'm taking every precaution. We have a lean to thing, which has no heating but takes off the chill of being outside. So there isn't the extreme temperature change that you correctly said buns don't like. We bought these square panels that clip together to make a pen of any size or shape.

Other costs to consider are vaccinations. My vet charges £25 for combined myxi and bud which is an annual jab.

squiz81 Mon 28-Nov-16 09:18:26

This is the hutch we have (that's an internet pic not my actual hutch) ours are free range all day so this hutch size is fine for them. The door is floor level so easy for them to hop in and out even now they are old.
Back when we had more rabbits we attached an extra run to the run section of the hut. We had a little hut in the extra run. But at that time they had to take garden time in shifts as the two groups foughtangry

MyBootsAreMuddy Mon 28-Nov-16 09:38:59

Rabbits require a LOT more space and time than people think. The hutch you linked to looks too small. Ideally they need at least a 6×2×2ft hutch (or similar sq ft) with a large (pref 10ft) run permanently attached so they have lots of space to run and jump about.
You are right to be getting a bonded pair as rabbits really don't like being given on their own and prefer company.

We have a male and female neutered pair that are just coming up to 10 yrs old. They live in a 5x5ft children's playhouse that we converted by taking out the window panes and meshing it and fitted a cat flap on the side which opens onto a 10x5ft run, that is 2 1/2 ft high so they can Stretch up on their back legs and nose about....buns are very nosey and like to see what's going on!
We have a wooden box stuffed with straw for them to snuggle in and also use cardboard boxes. We also put lino on the floor to make it easier to clean out and have a couple of those carpet door mats for them to sit on so they don't get chilly bottoms as we don't put straw on the floor....our buns are litter trained and use a cat litter tray with straw in which is cleaned out every couple of days so their actual house only needs occasional sweep and mop out.
We have their house in a sheltered part of the garden and as it is more cosy than a hutch we have never had a problem with them starting out all year round.

MyBootsAreMuddy Mon 28-Nov-16 09:43:15

Forgot to say. One of the good things about using a playhouse over a hutch means that dcs can sit inside it with the buns and play with them and snuggle them. Buns are not overly keen on being picked up so this way they feel nice and safe and are happy to hop on and off laps as they please.
We also have a fully enclosed patio that they like to run about on too.....they are surprisingly fast and agile when given the space to do what cones naturally. Seeing a bunny binkie witch delight is just the cutest thing to watch.

BertrandRussell Mon 28-Nov-16 09:50:13

Of all the pets we have ever had, the rabbits have been the least successful in the children's eyes. They are skittery and scrabbly and most don't like being cuddled. And while pretty are just not as interesting as guinea pigs.

Jellyshoeshurtmyfeet Mon 28-Nov-16 09:59:30

We used to have rabbits but the kids were a bit scared of them because you have to hold them just right so they don't thump their feet. I loved having them. They were litter trained and were happy to hop round the house. They only lived outside in the summer and they really don't like being alone so a pair is best.

gleegeek Mon 28-Nov-16 10:02:54

We acquired our neighbour's bunnies when he got a puppy. They live in a huge hutch with a run underneath - haven't found one like it online but it is solid and extremely heavy. There is also a 6'×6' run on the grass for running (when they don't have free run of the garden) but tbh they are exceptionally lazy bunnies and prefer to cuddle up together in the smallest space possible, so probably don't leave their hutch as much as other bunnies.
They love being cuddled as long as they get lots of time upright so they can lick our noses! They come inside most days to sit on our laps and watch TV - proper coach potato bunniesgrin If I wasn't so allergic they'd be permanent house bunnies but OMG the chewing! Can't leave them alone for a minute - one in particular is very destructive and chewed the wii cable in seconds...
So in our experience they're great pets but I still want a dog

noramum Mon 28-Nov-16 12:19:48

We have two bunnies living outdoors on the patio. they live in this hutch:

If the weather is bad I cover the run part with tarpauline so they stay dry and can still run around. I also have the huge run for the lawn to get them out in good weather.

Upstairs they have bedding plus lots of straw and hay to snuggle in. At the moment I also have an old pet carrier in the run where they can take shelter if they want, they seem to prefer being downstairs most times.

They are not the best children's pet in my view, my hate being picked up so DD (9) is not the keenest on them unless they are in the lawn run where she can lay down with them. A playhouse doesn't work for us unfortunately.

tabulahrasa Mon 28-Nov-16 12:25:44

Given enough space and the right environment they're great pets, but, they're unlikely to be sitting on laps giving cuddles (you get the odd one who does).

But space is an issue for most people, even large hutches and runs aren't ideal...they're better than small ones, but they're still not ideal.

If you think of hutches as a bed rather than a bedroom that makes it easier to imagine how much space they actually want.

Curlybrunette Mon 28-Nov-16 12:29:14

Oh...I only went an won the hutch on eBay, I really didn't expect to!
I'm now worried it isn't big enough, though I did intend to buy a separate run as well

I thought this for night times and really bad weather days (if it's freezing/snowing) and then a big run (maybe 8ft x 8ft) with shelter boxes inside for most days.

It seems like I've planned to get the buns without consciously realising it!?

So would the plan be something like each morning get them out of the hutch into their run, on an evening let them come into the house and have an explore/time with us, at some point during the evening put them back in to the hutch. Does that sound ok?

So even on really bad weather days they would be ok with a cover over the run, and tarpaulin and bubble wrap, and lots of hay for insulation inside their hutch?


tabulahrasa Mon 28-Nov-16 12:41:57

IMO 8x8 isn't large.

The minimum the rabbit welfare advise is yeah it'd be a bit bigger than that, but 8 feet is 3 and a bit hops for an average sized rabbit, it's not really enough room for them to run around properly.

How big is your garden? Could you rabbit proof that?

ItsTimeForDuggee Mon 28-Nov-16 12:54:41

Have a look on the RWAF website lots of information. the minimum size hutch should be 6x2x2 with an attached run of at least 8x6 that's for a single rabbit so really you'd need a double hutch for two. A rabbits diet should be 80% hay id recommend Timothyhay small amount (tbsp) of pellets each and some vegetables/herbs a very small amount of fruit as it's high in sugar. Rabbits can be really expensive when it comes to vet treatment they should have annual vacations for MXY/RHVD and a separate vacanation for RHVD2. I love my house buns but they are very much mine not my dc.

Idratherhaveacupoftea Mon 28-Nov-16 12:58:09

I read it as rabbi's.hmm

ItsTimeForDuggee Mon 28-Nov-16 13:00:16

The rabbits should have access all the time to the run from the hutch you should not shut them in the hutch.
Amazon did have snugglesafes (which are basically petsafe hot water bottles) for 9.99 they may have gone back up which are great they go in the microwave and they stay warm for 10 hours.

Justwhy Mon 28-Nov-16 13:09:47

My rabbits have half of a standard sized shed with a two tier hitch inside and then space to hop about. I cut a hole in the side of the shed and they have another large hutch and run attached to they can choose to hop in or out. I let them out all day every day in the summer to free range but they annihilated my grass last winter so this year I am only letting them out a couple of times a week. We have 4 rabbits. They come when called so each night I go into the shed and call them back in and the come hopping inside for dinner!

squiz81 Mon 28-Nov-16 20:35:48

No need to shut them in the upstairs part. Just make sure it's sat on slabs so they can't dig out or foxes dig in.

Is your garden safe? If it is I would just left them out in the garden then you won't need another run.

CadmiumRed Mon 28-Nov-16 20:46:34

They will need injections every year - Mixy and another one, rabbit flu, I think.

And you will need to learn to clip their nails, or else get the vet to do it.

I did not find rabbits to be low maintenance pets.

Wolfiefan Mon 28-Nov-16 20:51:16

Daft idea! When we had bunnies they went in a hutch in a shed. Solved the cold weather issue. They slept in the hutch and had the run of the shed all day. Brought into a run in the garden for a bit each day.
Bunnies don't really much like being picked up in my limited experience!
Watch their teeth. We had one whose teeth didn't meet. They didn't get ground down and needed regular clipping.

CadmiumRed Mon 28-Nov-16 20:57:58

In the wild they do live in dark burrows and come out at night / dusk, so I don't think gloom is a big issue for them, is it?

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