Getting a rabbit run - what to consider

Getting a rabbit run - what to consider

Whether your rabbit lives indoors or outdoors, it is important they get regular exercise. Rabbits in the wild cover a large roaming area, and are very energetic. Buying a run allows them to hop, jump and play with their toys, keeping their brains and bodies active.

What do I need to consider when getting a run?

Size is important! Rabbits need enough space to hop and stretch. The minimum your run should be is 6ft by 4ft, but ideally 8ft gives them plenty of room. The run should also be no less that 2ft high. This gives them enough room to sit up, jump should they wish, and not make them claustrophobic.

You must keep your rabbits safe. It is essential that the run has a roof, as natural predators such as foxes can break into gardens. Rabbits can also jump 3ft and escape the run, and therefore your garden. You will also notice they will try to dig or sneak out underneath a run. If you plan to keep the run in one place, make sure you have placed wire under the grass so they cannot escape. Movable runs, so they can gradually trim your lawn, should have a wire bottom or anti-dig skirts. Wire may be hard on rabbit’s feet, so always check before you buy. Straw can be added to help protect them.

Make sure they are protected from the elements. On a hot day rabbits need shade and a fresh supply of water. If the run has no covered area, place a blanket over one end of the run. Check it frequently to make sure the shadows are still providing shade as the sun moves. Change this to a sturdy piece of waterproof plastic if it is raining. Obviously heavy rain or snow will mean you need to move your rabbits into their hutch if the run does not link together.

What types of runs are there?

Apex run – you will see these runs at most pet shops, and are pre-made to set measurements. They are a triangular shape, with a covered area made of wood for the rabbit to get some shade. The sides are made from wire mesh, with a door so you can put the rabbit in and out each day. The downside of this is that they are usually fairly small, so your rabbit won’t get much exercise. The single door can also make it impossible to catch your rabbit without causing stress or accidentally letting them out.

Play pen – more commonly associated with puppies, there are a mixture of puppy and rabbit play pens on the market. They come in a set size, or offer you panels so you can build the play pen to any size you want. It is also easier to store. Unfortunately they do not come with a roof. As a result you will need to supervise your rabbit to make sure it doesn’t escape.

Wooden run – these can be square or rectangular, and built to a variety of sizes. They are covered with wire mesh to make sure the rabbit can’t escape. You must check the wood regularly to make sure it isn’t warping or being gnawed away.

Metal run – similar to the play pen, but these runs come with a roof. They resemble a cage, but you can extend them and add on additional metal runs to make them larger. You will need to anchor them firmly as they are fairly light, so rabbits can push underneath them.

Can I build my own pen?

Yes! There are many instructional plans and videos online, and rabbit societies and charities offer useful tips to make sure your run is safe. Building your own means you can make it fit your rabbit’s size, as well as your garden. A fixed run that accompanies your garden design can be very attractive.

How can I improve my run?

Getting a run is only the start of the fun for your rabbit. Although this gives them room to jump and nibble grass, you will also want to entertain them.

  • Digging pit – bunnies love to dig, but no one wants them escaping or ruining the lawn. Provide them with a digging pit. A cat litter tray filled with earth is an easy option.
  • Toys – rabbits love tubes and tunnels. Boxes are also great to gnaw and jump on, or even just sit in on a warm day. Balls provide endless entertainment. You can find many rabbit toys in pet shops, but also look around the house for potential rabbit entertainment. Make sure all toys are safe and not easy to break. Bunnies will gnaw plastic.
  • Tube link to hutch – to really add luxury, attach a tube or tunnel from their hutch to the run so they can access it whenever they choose. There are a number of products on the market which provide safe joints so you can cut existing wire mesh, and cover the hole safely, attaching a tube the rabbits can’t escape from.
  • Hanging baskets – if your run is high enough, adding hanging baskets containing hay encourages them to stretch and investigate their surroundings.

Do I need to take any special care now my rabbit has a run?

Be prepared to check your rabbit every evening. As well as cuts and bruises, you will need to make sure your rabbit has not got heat stroke or fly strike. Fly strike is very daunting for rabbit owners, as flies will lay eggs on faeces stuck to a rabbit’s leg, resulting in maggots. Keeping your rabbit’s tail and bottom clean will help stop this. Make sure the run is clean, and remove any dirty bedding or faeces so flies aren’t attracted to the run.

Fresh water and food must also be available, as well as shade and shelter from the weather.

Get them used to being picked up from their run. You want your rabbit to have freedom, but you don’t want them to become too aggressive and overprotective of their space. This is incredibly important if they are a child’s pet. You also want to make it easy to catch them, as grabbing and chasing will cause stress.



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