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Ten Reasons NOT to House

a Rabbit in a Hutch!

Of course, there are rabbits that have lived as long as a house rabbit or longer. However, the difference is the rabbit's quality of life.  If the rabbit caretaker visits at least twice daily, locates the hutch in a protected area, takes rabbit out for exercise daily and gives them plenty of social time with people, other rabbits or both, then I have no issue with a "Hutch Rabbit."  

Unfortunately, parents e-mail me to say their child has tired of their "Easter Rabbit" who is in a hutch out in the backyard and acting very aggressively during a once daily feeding.  My advice to them is to spay or neuter the rabbit and while it is recuperating bring it inside the house.  Give the bunny all the care and attention given to a pet cat or dog.  Amazing things happen!  All of a sudden the rabbit is "intelligent," "affectionate," "entertaining" and has a "personality."

Printable Version: Download Here

Ten Reasons NOT to put a Rabbit in a Hutch!

1. Winter Rabbits can freeze especially if they are solitary and can't snuggle up together.  Temperate climates work better for hutches. Rabbits can suffer frostbite especially on their ears.

2. Summer Heat  rabbits can overheat and die in temperatures over 85 F  See Buns in the Sun.  It explains how to help a rabbit keep its cool.

3. Predators Even if the predator can't get to the rabbit, a rabbit can still die from shock.  I get e-mails from distressed people telling me they found their hutch bunny has passed away overnight without a scratch on it.  Their vet can't find a reason. Also, there are plenty of documented cases where a predator manages to get into the hutch including bears, raccoons, feral dogs or cats (or the neighbor's pets), foxes, coyotes and humans.

4. Wire floors Most hutches have mesh wire floors with trays under them.  Wire floors make it easy for someone in the rabbit production business to clean up after them.  A condition known as "sore hocks" is aggravated by the wires that cut into the rabbit's feet.  Rabbit feet are not padded like cat or dog feet! They at least require a resting board or a litter box at the very minimum. 

5. Obesity If the rabbit is confined to a hutch and doesn't get proper exercise, it can become overweight.  This causes a lot of health  problems.  Further, an obese rabbit has problems eating cecotrophs (the soft mucus covered waste) resulting in poor nutrition.  The cecotrophs can fall through the wires and the rabbit doesn't have a chance to eat them. Cecotrophs are essential to the health of a rabbit since they contain important nutrients that need to be redigested.

6. Bone and Muscle Problems Without exercise and confined to a small place a rabbit may develop bone and muscle deficiencies.  Their bones will break easier when handled.

7. Boredom and Depression Rabbits are very gregarious, social animals!  Oryctolagus cuniculus (domesticated rabbits) in the wild naturally live in warrens with many other rabbits.   They need social interaction.  A rabbit in a hutch may be forgotten outside except for feeding.  Rabbits kept like this can become aggressive because they are not socialized to people, other pets or even other rabbits.

8. Toxic Building Materials Hutches are sometimes made with redwood (toxic to rabbits) or other treated wood materials that a rabbit will naturally gnaw.

9. Poor Construction Most hutches and cages are not large enough for a rabbit to really stretch out completely and stand on it's hind legs without hitting the ceiling.  Some rabbits can even escape hutches with simple latches.

10. Out of sight - Out of Mind How can anyone notice when the rabbit is sluggish or listless or any other sign the rabbit is sick if they do not observe the rabbit except for a few minutes  to check on the food and water.

The Best Reason:  House Rabbits can live an average of 8 to 13 years while a Hutch rabbit has an average lifespan of 2 years!

 

 

 

 

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