CAGE AND ENVIRONMENT
Unfortunately, there isn’t one style of cage to suit every need. The following are a few guidelines you’ll want to keep in mind when making your rabbit shelter.
COMFORTABLE It should be comfortable for the rabbits. They’ll be spending a lot of time in it.
CONFINEMENT It should confine the rabbits to keep them from escaping.
PREDATORS It needs to protect the rabbits from predators.
WEATHER The housing should protect the rabbits from bad weather. Rain, shine, hail, sleet, or snow.
ACCESS You’ll need to be able to comfortably access the rabbit in the cage.
CLEANING The cage should be as self-cleaning as possible and easy to clean.
COST It should be reasonable priced and easy to maintain.
DURABILITY It should be able to withstand a few years of wear and tear.
To allow for the comfort of the rabbits, the size of cage you need is going to vary depending on the size of rabbit, and so is the structure of it.
Most rabbits will survive in a sheltered outdoor situation in moderate climates, but do not do well with getting wet. If it gets too hot or too cold, rabbits can freeze or overheat rather easily. As such, it is recommended that rabbits have “houses” of their own or are raised inside a home or shelter.
Most ready-made cages will work fine for standard breeds, but the larger breeds will need more support. The Giants will require a wood or solid- bottomed cage or their feet will become injured due to their weight on the wire mesh. Giants also require approximately 5 sq. ft. of “run” space. It’s recommended that you allow ¾ sq. ft. of space per pound of mature body weight. So it’s best to pick your breed before you buy your cages.
Cages will also need to have built in waste disposal and regular cleaning to ensure that the rabbits remain healthy. For standard breeds, a wire mesh bottom is used and waste falls down into a pit where it can be scooped out as needed. The giant breeds will require more hands-on cage cleaning, as most of their cage will need to be solid footing.
The pit below the cages should be made with wood chips or dirt to help soak up the urine. Rabbit urine is high in urea, which mixes with moisture to form ammonia and can become unbearable rather quickly. Having some kind of absorbent material below the cages helps to alleviate this issue. You’ll also want to have a good ventilation system.
The cages should have the option of direct sunlight during part of the day. Sunlight is good for the animals and is a natural germ killer. However, your rabbits shouldn’t be forced to endure long periods of direct sun, as they may overheat or suffer sunburn. So make sure there is a spot of shade in their cages as well.
An Optimal environment for rabbits is about 55 degrees F., as high temperatures will reduce food intake and growth. Too low of temperatures will result in higher feed costs, as it will take more dietary energy for the rabbits to keep warm. Humidity should be about 35-50%, as this will help keep the floors and manure dry. Lower humidity can cause the rabbits to have respiratory issues, and high humidity may increase the ammonia levels.