Space: A Guide To Rabbit Environments

The Don't Dos!

There are things that are relatively common place that we simply say “Do Not Do It!”, and we would not be able to consider adoption applications where any of the following apply:

  • Indoor “Rabbit” Cages.  None of those currently available commercially meet our requirements, and so we operate a “No More Indoor Cages” policy.  The plastic bases do make excellent litter trays though, if a somewhat expensive one.
  • We don’t support the use of hutches smaller than 6ft in length, unless used as a secondary living space within an environment that otherwise meets the rabbits living space needs, for example a 6ft hutch alongside a 5ft hutch within the same space.
  • We don’t support the use of chicken-coop style hutches at all, regardless of the dimensions.  This is because these environments generally utilise mainly mesh sides and offer only a very small sheltered area for the rabbits.
  • Single Rabbits.  Rabbits are sociable and need company of their own species.  Other than for rare scenarios where it is in the individual interests of the rabbit, we insist that all rabbits are kept in pairs or small groups.

Need Suggestions & Ideas?

View our recommended suppliers list for living & exercise equipment and accessories too.

What Do We Look For?

The most basic rule of rabbit ownership has to be that you should always aim to give your rabbits as much space as you possibly can.  So with that in mind, the following should be considered a rough guide of what is expected as a minimum recommendation.


The RWAF’s latest recommendation is to aim to provide an overall environment for your rabbits of 3m x 2m (slightly larger than 10ft x 6ft), or equivalent.  This should incorporate a combination of living space (traditionally a hutch) and exercise space (traditionally an exercise run).

The latest RWAF Recommendations are for combined environments of 3m x 2m

Rabbits must have constant access to their full environment, choosing for themselves when to relax in their sheltered space or binky around their exercise space.

Sheltered Space

For outdoor rabbits, a sheltered space is required within the environment.  This space should be a minimum of 6ft (183cm) x 2ft (61cm) x 2ft(61cm).

Most commercially available hutches and indoor cages are therefore considered to be too small and you may need to think "outside the box" in terms of suitable accommodation.

Outdoors, garden sheds, and children's playhouses can easily and cheaply be adapted to make excellent living accommodation for your rabbit.  Sheds offer a great space for owners to share socialisation time with their rabbits whilst also sheltering from the weather and we find that owners will spend more time with their rabbits when using sheds in place of traditional hutches.  Check out our recommended suppliers for suggestions of environments that make the space an inviting place for you as well as your rabbits.

Indoors, whilst shelter is less of an issue, we appreciate that many owners gain comfort from providing their rabbits with a secure and dedicated "base".  This must still be in addition to an overall environment of 3m x 2m.

We DO NOT support the use of indoor cages such as those sold in many pet shops.

One solution is to use a puppy playpen setup to create a safe secure area within your home that with secured connection to the additional exercise space to ensure they still get adequate space.

Within their living area, there should be facilities for sleeping (lots of warm bedding such as straw, blankets, paper, etc), an area for toileting (ideally with a litter pan in place), and an area for eating with plenty of hay, fresh veg & herbs and a small volume of dried rabbit pellets (only about an egg cup size per day) and of course, freshwater supplied preferably in a bowl or gravity feeder.

Exercise Space

Just as important is ensuring that your rabbits are getting plenty of exercise.

Our minimum requirement would be for the living area to have a permanently attached exercise area that allows the rabbits themselves to choose when they want to be in their living space or in their exercise space. Runaround systems are an excellent way to connect living space to exercise space.

Owners may wish to consider closing access to exercise areas overnight, based on safety and protection from predators.  We do not support this approach, and therefore encourage owners to consider all other safety precautions to prevent predator attacks.  This is because rabbits are most active at dawn and dusk and we should not prevent them from the opportunity to demonstrate their natural behaviours as it suits them.

Our minimum requirement for exercise space is incorporated within the overall 3m x 2m requirements.  

But remember the rule: always aim to give your rabbits as much space as you possibly can.

Within the run space, there should be things to keep the rabbits entertained and stimulated.  Toys could include tunnels, boxes, stools, chew toys, etc.  It is also really important to have somewhere the rabbit can hide within the run if they get scared or simply want some alone time.


Protection From Weather & Predators

Your rabbits' environment needs to consider protection from weather & predators.  Rabbits can cope with reasonable dips in temperature but are often harmed by harsh winds and rains rather than low temperatures.  And the mere sight of a fox can be enough to startle your rabbit to death.

This means that there should be a well-sheltered area, offering ample space for movement within a closed-off area that is guarded against wind and rain and allows your rabbits to hide from the outside world when they wish to do so.

We suggest then that outdoor living spaces should meet the requirements above with at least three of the walls of the sheltered living space using solid materials.  Many cheap hutches and chicken-coop style homes utilise a large amount of wire mesh finishing which leaves the living area open to the dangers of weather and predators.

Many forget about the temperatures of summer too, and protection from extreme temperatures is also important.

For both hot and cold temperatures, insulation measures can make a big difference.  These can be inbuilt into the equipment, or you may use insulated covers and liners.

Rabbits also like to be able to hide quickly if they feel they may be under threat of attack, so hiding spaces are crucial within the environment.  As well as a sheltered living area, we recommend additional hiding spaces within the exercise area such as hide boxes (these can be cardboard, timber, or plastic), tunnels, and more.

Safety & Security From Predators & Others

We live in a complex and often confusing world, and the reality is that our pet rabbits aren’t as secure as we would like them to be in our homes and in our gardens.  Many people consider safety from fox but often forget about other predators such as birds of prey.

Sadly, they are also not safe from other humans.  There are many stories of rabbits being deliberately stolen, let free from their environment, or abused and tortured.

Your rabbits’ environment, therefore, needs to consider additional security measures.

Chicken Wire and some weaker wire mesh netting is not fox-proof!  A fox will be able to break through many of these systems.  So ensure that any mesh used on your run is of a high standard and securely attached to the framework of the environment.

We do not support the use of open-topped runs and environments as foxes can scale over tall fences and walls, and birds of prey can also swoop down very quickly.  We recommend that all environments are fully enclosed, and if possible we suggest doing this at “walk-in” height so that it is easier for you to access your rabbits and spend time with them in their own environment.

Many rabbit owners like to offer their rabbits free reign of their garden.  From a space perspective, this is fantastic, and whilst under supervision, we are not against doing this.  However, we cannot support a permanent free-reign of garden space as a direct result of the threat of predators is always a high risk to your rabbits.

We also recommend that for outdoor rabbits all environments are locked with high-security padlocks or equivalent to prevent unwanted access by strangers.  Consider also additional security on any main access garden and property gates to further protect your rabbits.

Safety is important for indoor rabbits, so you should consider the following factors:

  • Ensure there are no small spaces a rabbit can squeeze into and become inaccessible or stuck.
  • Ensure all electrical cables are completely out of the way.  Rabbits will chew cables if given the opportunity which will result in damage to your electrical goods but may also result in electric shock for your pet.
  • Stairs should be considered carefully.  Most rabbits learn to go up and down stairs happily and safely, but thought should also be given to any extreme drops from banister landings or similar.
  • Consider restricting access to areas leading to doorways where they may accidentally become trapped in closing doorways, or escape into areas not suitable for them and/or areas outside (unless they are also to gain garden access).

Boredom Breakers

Rabbits are highly intelligent, social, interactive animals who get bored very easily.

We look for adopters to consider ways to make sure their rabbits are stimulated and entertained within their environments.

This should include items such as:

  • Hide boxes
  • Tunnels
  • Dig Boxes
  • Toys
  • Beds & Resting places
  • Multiple levels

Bigger is Always Better

The sizes quoted here are recommendations and minimums.  You cannot do your rabbits any harm by offering more space, as long as you are confident that the space is secure and safe.

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Need Suggestions & Ideas?

View our recommended suppliers list for living & exercise equipment and accessories too.