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Small pets

Please help a prospective rabbit adopter!

23 replies

Futurerabbitadopter · 18/09/2019 10:58

Hi, after careful thinking and research (or so we thought), we have agreed with our children that we will adopt a rabbit (or two - see below). Looking more closely at what kind of set up to go for, I've realised that the kind of hutch and run for sale at pets at home etc. is not going to be adequate. We have the space for something bigger but we had budgeted for about £200 to set everything up (not including the ongoing costs) and I'm not sure that we can get anything suitable for that amount. I'm going to talk to dh and see whether we can increase the budget to £300 but I'm not sure that even that would allow us to get something suitable. Could anyone answer a few questions for me please?

  • are there any easily available set ups in our budget, that would be suitable to get us started?
  • which is better - a permanent run with access from the hutch, or a moveable run to allow fresh grass each day? Am I right in saying you either need a mesh floor or, for a permanent run, to put the fence c. 30 cm into the ground?
  • can bunny stay outside all winter? We can't bring him inside as a family member (not a resident but a regular visitor) is very allergic. We have a garage but it's quite gloomy and would need some work (not impossible) to make it bunny safe - I'm not sure how well insulated it would be though.
  • do two rabbits need significantly more space than one? We have said that we'll adopt a (specific) male (long and potentially outing story!); it seems that females do better in pairs but I can't find an answer about males. We can cope with the ongoing costs for two if that is better for them, it's finding him a suitable friend and having the space that I'm concerned about.

Thank you for reading! I have already told the children that if we can't make a good home for him then it won't be happening, which they do understand.
OP posts:
LucheroTena · 18/09/2019 20:37

Hi op,
The best thing is to get a small shed or playhouse, you can put a small flap in for the rabbits to get in and out and have a permanently attached weldmesh run to the side. Lots of eBay and Facebook sites will make a cheap run to measure. A shed or playhouse will make it much easier for you to interact with them and clean out than a hutch and you should find one within budget.
Rabbits are fine to live outside all year round. Their fur grows very thick in winter. They are sociable and need their own kind. A neutered male-female pair will get on best and a rescue can pair them up for you (it has to be done on neutral territory). Occasionally a bun won’t get on with another and might be ok alone but they would need your company and to live in the house.

LucheroTena · 18/09/2019 20:40

Ps they are best kept on hard floor/flagstones, not grass. Grass is quite rich for their stomachs. Plus they can dig very big holes and escape. They mostly eat hay and you can buy a variety. Pets at home stock a lovely Timothy hay. They also eat pellets (selective was the brand we used to get) and you can supplement with kale, spring greens and carrots.

AwkwardPaws27 · 18/09/2019 20:49

Rabbits are social creatures and should have a friend, not be kept alone.
Rabbits don't usually make good children's pets - many don't like being picked up, and they can be fiesty. Have you considered guinea pigs? They are calmer, and easier for children to handle.

There's some very good advice on this website:

If you are set on rabbits, have a look on Facebook / Google to see if there is a local bunny rescue - they are usually very good at matching owners with suitable, well-handled rabbits.
Rabbits from a rescue will be neutered and vaccinated too (although will need annual boosters).

AwkwardPaws27 · 18/09/2019 20:50

If you are planning to adopt a specific bunny, many rescues will match him up and help bond him with another rabbit for you too.

Futurerabbitadopter · 19/09/2019 09:24

Thank you for your responses! I'm on the app and can't see your posts while I reply, so I may miss things, but I'd appreciate further comments please.

It's interesting that you say about a playhouse - I'd just read a site that talked about converting one. I think dh would manage to do that, though I think I'd still worry that it wouldn't be sturdy enough to withstand a fox! I guess it relies on you starting off with a playhouse that's not too flimsy and is, presumably, waterproof (though I guess it would need to be treated regularly). I wondered aloud to one of my children if hutches are a hangover from when people didn't know so much about rabbit welfare, and now they're just seen as the standard thing to have even though they're not great.

Having the home and run on hard standing shouldn't be a problem in itself, but I'd hoped that grass could make up a reasonable part of the rabbit's diet. I'd read that 85% should be hay or grass, with pellets and green veg making up the rest. Unfortunately hay is a problem for one of my children so I'd hoped that the run could be hay-free even if the sleeping quarters weren't. If that's very unrealistic then that may be the end of our rabbit-keeping dreams Sad

I must admit that I'd not really thought of Guinea pigs (though the hay issue wouldn't be any better - and my experience of friends' Guinea pigs is that they get hay everywhere!), but there is one particular rabbit that we'd like to adopt if possible (plus, as I said, a friend if appropriate. Though the rescue mentioned another male, which doesn't sound right, unless I misunderstood them). Children are all upper primary/lower secondary age so relatively calm and sensible, and understanding that they can't force affection on an animal or treat it like a toy.

OP posts:
Someonesayroadtrip · 19/09/2019 09:30

We have a chicken run for us as it was much bigger than any rabbit hutches we saw. We may convert the playhouse in the future. Our chicken run was under £200, I think it was about 150.

Ours will come in the winter, we have dog crates for then, we given them free rein when we are home but they have to go back into their crates when we are not. When they were in last they were unbounded so they had one each, I'm less sure how we will do it this winter.

Someonesayroadtrip · 19/09/2019 09:32

They need hay yes, so this maybe isn't going to work for you unfortunately. Tortoise?

Futurerabbitadopter · 19/09/2019 10:06

Thank you. Unfortunately, most other pets are out for one reason or another as this is an immune system issue rather than an allergy. I believe tortoises and other reptiles carry salmonella so they'd be a definite no.

OP posts:
TaskMistress · 19/09/2019 10:51

Go round the local garden centres and b&q etc.
I picked up a playhouse for £50 because it had been outside and needed new felt. I got new felt and some wood paint, cheap insulation and board to do the inside all for less that £100.
For the run I have penned in an old trampoline.
Look on eBay for old sheds or playhouses.

Futurerabbitadopter · 19/09/2019 11:33

Thank you. I really hope we can resolve the hay issue somehow. I really thought that rabbits could be perfect for us because I understand that they are fairly tidy so I was hoping that contact could be limited. Could any experienced people tell me if this could be done please? For example, if we had a hay feeder in one section of the run, is the hay likely to stay there (or be eaten, of course!), rather than being spread around? I'm going to have to speak to the medical team as well but I'd like to go with as much knowledge as possible of how we would set things up.

OP posts:
Homealone3 · 19/09/2019 11:36

Our garden is secure so the rabbit are free range in the garden during the day but they still have hay.
Garden rabbit aren't as friendly as house rabbits IME

RushianDisney · 19/09/2019 11:41

They will need the hay as bedding in winter when it's cold, we did year round, so yes it will get everywhere. They will pull it out of a feeder regardless.

LucheroTena · 19/09/2019 21:39

Rabbits are messy creatures, they nibble on hay constantly (have to or their gut seizes up) and they will drag the hay everywhere I’m afraid. You might need to rethink choice of pet.

Futurerabbitadopter · 20/09/2019 08:33

Thanks. I'm going to speak to the medical team and see if they've got any suggestions.

OP posts:
EveWasShamed · 20/09/2019 08:41

Hi OP, minimum requirements for rabbit welfare are 6 x 2 x 2 feet for living space and 8 x 6 x 3 feet for exercise space, you should definitely be able to find an adequate set up for around the £300 mark. I’d recommend the Home and Roost Chartwell 6 ft hutch and either a 4wire walk in aviary style run or the one from ukrabbithutches that exactly meets the exercise requirements. The hutch and run ideally connected with a Runaround tunnel to give them permanent access, meaning you could also move the run onto new patches of grass.

As other posters have advised you really need to get a pair (at least - many people prefer trios these days as when passes away you don’t have to think about getting another immediately so the bunny left behind isn’t lonely - also three bunnies are not any more work than two!), the size requirements remain the same unless you get a giant breed in which case add a few feet onto those measurements.

The hay does get everywhere though - I’ve often found random bits on me when I get to work for example! So that might be an issue for you.

If you’re in Scotland I can recommend an amazing rescue, please adopt don’t shop!

EveWasShamed · 20/09/2019 08:45

To answer your other question, outdoor bunnies should remain outdoors all year, they don’t feel the cold like we do and some bunnies don’t cope very well with the change of environment. If extreme temperatures then I’d suggest bringing into a garage or a cooler room eg conservatory.

LaBuenaVida · 20/09/2019 11:15

My daughter has a house bunny (who I’m looking after at present). I’m completely besotted with him - but I would really advise against getting a rabbit as a children’s pet. They have to eat hay all the time - and drag it everywhere. And they chew cables, furniture etc. They are very delicate health wise due to their guts. They can be fine one minute - and an emergency the next. And they do need to be in pairs - ours is on his own at present as his last 2 partners died.
So sorry to be such a killjoy - but we’ve learned the hard way! We adore him - but my daughter is an adult who devotes a lot of time to him and he has the run of the flat.
I would recommend hamsters or guinea pigs (sorry if this has already been mentioned). But very best of luck with your pet search ❤️

BlackInk · 20/09/2019 17:40


We're trying to adopt a rabbit (to be a companion for our existing bunny as we lost her little friend earlier this year) from a rescue at the moment, and it's proving really difficult!

Most rescues follow rabbit welfare association guidelines, which stipulate constant access to a minimum of 60 square feet, not to include any upper levels - the ground floor has to be 60 sq ft.

Our set up is a converted wooden playhouse attached to a run with a special rabbit tunnel. Total space is 50 sq ft, but we've been turned down by two rescue centres due to the lack of space. This is despite the rabbits also having daily free range time in the garden and / or house.

It's pretty saddening because I feel as though we're being pushed towards getting a pet shop bunny, or one from a breeder. The rabbits in the rescue centres we've seen are really well kept, but obviously in housing far smaller than 60 sq ft.

If you have a rescue centre in mind I would check out their criteria on housing and make sure that whatever you get / build meets this!

Rabbits can make lovely, lovely pets. Ours are more like little dogs in some ways. They have also lived outdoors all year round, with lots of bedding and ice blocks etc in the summer to prevent overheating.


BlackInk · 20/09/2019 17:44

Oh and yes they do need constant access to lots of hay. We have a big hay box / nest box within the hutch part of their set up. The hay does get spread around a bit, but it doesn't go everywhere... however, the bunnies themselves will be covered in hay dust, which could be a problem?

Keeping rabbits on grass is tricky as they will soon nibble it all away to bare ground/mud, and a mobile run can be hard to make secure.

Futurerabbitadopter · 21/09/2019 15:15

Thanks everyone - you've given us lots to think about Smile

OP posts:
bunnygeek · 26/09/2019 12:13

Lots of good advice. I would say that my pair are outdoors with a shed and aviary with hay mainly limited to their litter trays, I still find hay around the house.

buzzwizz619 · 03/10/2019 21:21

Hay gets EVERYWHERE I have house rabbit, confined to the kitchen when I'm not home and access to the livingroom when I am home. Honestly there's not a part of my house that doesn't have hay ive even found it in my bed and in the freezer😂

Honestly as a fairly new rabbit mum ( adopted the first in May and the 2nd in July) who had a pretty good idea of what I was getting myself Into bunnies are far more work than I expected. Bunny number 2 has already racked up £500 in vets bills, they also don't get along so now I need to find a 3rd rabbit to bond with the first (Long story!)

The advise I give to anyone who says they are thinking about having rabbits now is don't do it! I love them but they need 110% commitment (And 9kg of hay lasts 4 weeks, that's £19 a month just on hay!)

70isaLimitNotaTarget · 04/10/2019 07:03

If the hay is the issue then guinea-pigs are just as bad !

I was a guinea-mum til earlier this year when our last old girl died . Last winter we had our three oldies indoors 24/7 , they had their own bedroom.
Hay tracks all over the house .

My DD developed allergies when we got our 3rd pig (we had 8 over the years) worse was piggie 6 . It was their coats not hay .

I miss the pigs , but not the hay TBH.
And they need hay . They are happiest bruried up to their ears in fresh hay .

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