To keep rabbits appropriately you not only need a sufficiently sized enclosure, you also need rabbit appropriate equipment so that your animals can feel safe and enact their natural behaviors. The equipment depends on the number of rabbits in the exclosure, as an example; for every rabbit you require a hiding possibility, such a house or a tunnel/bridge made from wood or wicker. With larger groups, a single water or feeding bowl is not enough.
Food and Water
Hay Racks and Hay Towers
• Made from wood better than from plastic
• Requires a lid
• Most natural is to give food from the ground
• Always give fresh hay daily
Commercial hay racks made from wire or plastic are not so suitable because rabbits can jump into them and become stuck in or eat the plastic. Better are hay racks made from wood, which can be bought in different sizes from some online shops or can be built yourself. Make sure that the distance between the bars and holes is small enough to prevent the rabbits from putting their whole head through. The rack must also be secured with a lid otherwise rabbits may jump inside, resulting in injury. The natural way of wild rabbits is to eat from the ground, this is most natural and also for our domesticated rabbits. If you feed directly from the ground, ensure that the hay is made fresh daily, because rabbits urinate in the hay also. Cats litter boxes are suitable to feed hay from. The best method is to lay some litter in the bottom of the tray and then hay on top. The litter then absorbs the urine.
• Made from ceramic is best
• Must be large and heavy
Feeding bowls made from plastic are not that suitable. Most appropriate are large, heavy bowls made from ceramic. Rabbits enjoy eating together from a large bowl. Ceramic baking trays can also be used to serve fresh food.
• Use heavy, solid bowls made of ceramic
• Avoid water bottles
Water bowls should be the main means of providing water to your rabbits. Water bottles may seem practical but the drinking hole and shape of the bottle is very difficult to clean and fosters bacterial, fungus and algal growth. The water here is provided in small droplets and the rabbit must also drink from an unnatural position. Water bowls are easy to clean and rabbits are able to quench their thirst very quickly. The bowl must be large and heavy because rabbits often like to push them around. Make sure you clean the bowls thoroughly every day and not only replace the fresh food and water.
Hygiene and Health
• Place toilets where the rabbits urinate
• Lidless cat litter trays work well
• Larger the group, the more toilets
• Offer hay close to the toilet
• Cleaned daily and filled with fresh hay and litter daily
Most rabbits are naturally house trained. The rabbits will find a specific corner in the living area where they defecate and urinate. In this location you should place a toilet. Suitable rabbit toilets are cat litter trays, without a lid, and the plastic bottom tray from commercial rabbit houses, without the roof or wire. The larger the group, the more toilets should be placed in the enclosure. It is recommended to offer rabbits a hay feeding place, close to the toilet, eg. over or inside the litter box. Thus ensuring the droppings fall into the toilet. The toilet should be thoroughly cleaned daily and filled with fresh litter.
• Different types – test what works for you
• Must not be dusty
• Lay straw over the top to protect legs and feet and prevent bedding blowing around
There are different varieties in litter for rabbit toilets; soft wood granulate (not pine), hemp bedding, wooden pellets. You must test which bedding suits you the best. It is very important that it is not dusty and that binds the odor and moisture. It must also be harmless to rabbits. You must ensure to lay one layer of straw or hay over wooden pellets to prevent wounds from developing on the legs and feet. The layer of straw or hay over the bedding prevents the bedding from blowing around the house. Unsuitable is: newspaper (printing ink), kitty litter (causes constipation in the intestines and has sharp edges which causes injury), straw pellets (rabbits enjoy eating it and it swells in the digestive tract which leads to deadly constipation).
• Dustpan and broom specific for rabbit enclosure
• Rubber brooms very useful
• Use only mild cleaning agents
• Vinegar based are suitable however strong odor is harmful to rabbit noses
• Use disinfectant washing powders to clean blankets and pillows
• Concrete can be cleaned with a high pressure cleaner
• Soil needs to be regularly dug over
To clean the enclosure, you will need a dustpan and broom. Ideally a set used specifically for cleaning the rabbit enclosure. Rubber brooms are better to clean up sawdust, hay and fur. With these you can also clean carpets and pillows much better than a standard broom. When the rabbits shed, the rubber broom will be the most useful to clean blankets and other items before they are washed in the washing machine. Rubber brooms are easily cleaned and are able to be disinfected with hot water. Small hand shovels are good to clean the bedding from the toilets. Additionally you should have your own brooms, brushes and other cleaning stuff to clean the toilets, enclosure walls and other accessories. Make sure you use only mild, natural cleaning agents. Vinegar based cleaners and vinegar essence are suitable. Take to to ensure the animals are not in the room when these cleaners are used. The odor is very harmful for the sensitive noses of rabbits. Aerate the room after use. Citric acid and citric essence function well against stains in the litter box or on PVC and tiles. The benefits of using these is that they do not smell as strong as vinegar based cleaners.
To clean blankets and pillows, you can use disinfectant washing powder, vinegar essence or baking soda. Vinegar essence and baking soda are effective against urine stains. Steam cleaners are good to disinfect the enclosure.
Concrete in the outdoor enclosures can be cleaned very thoroughly with a high pressure cleaner. Soil from the outdoor enclosure should be regularly dug over because it is used as a toilet.
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