You can keep free range rabbits in the house, garden, or both, as I do. But pet rabbits must be in a safe environment with room to stretch, run and play.
And, a three-metre by two-metre area is the minimum for rabbits like Babe and Bob.
Free Range Rabbits the Environment
But will they be happy in the minimum area? Well, not according to Babe and Bob, as free range rabbits, they should know! And, after seeing Babe and Bob running and playing, I must agree with them.
They have access to the front and back garden and the whole house. So, there are one hundred and two square metres to play in, and they use it all.
Running, twisting, turning, and jumping, from one end to the other and back at full speed, often more than once. These displays of speed and agility are highly entertaining, but there is more.
Rabbits love to climb, and there are chairs, benches, and a table in the garden for me and my guests. But the rabbits use them far more than I do.
And they have the tunnel mentioned in an earlier post and another under the raised rabbit house. Babe loves sitting high, 1.4m (4’7″), watching people walk past the garden on the rabbit house ridge.
So, all these things rabbits love to do! Are impossible for them to do in the recommended minimum area.
Keeping Free range Rabbits
Now keeping free range rabbits does have its problems. Rabbits do what they have always done, chew the house contents, dig holes in your garden and eat your plants Which you can prevent, but it comes at a cost and takes time.
But the laughter, affection and companionship, and an improvement in your mental health, I have found, far outweigh the problems.
Yes, you could enjoy these benefits from a cat or dog. But free range rabbits do not need walking in all weathers. Make the house smell, or leave muddy paw prints on your floor.
They keep themselves exceptionally clean, are easy to toilet train, and the hair will not stick in your carpets. Now, I know what you are thinking; why keep rabbits free range if they cause problems? Well: –
You can keep them down the garden. But giving them a good run to enjoy life will cost more than it did for me to rabbit-proof my home.
Rabbits are social animals. So, they need to feel part of your family to get the best from them, not outcasts in your garden.
Rabbits like human company. Bond with your rabbit(s), and you have a friend(s) for life.
Making sure predators are not able to attack your free to roam rabbits is essential. And this is not that easy because your rabbit is at the bottom of the food chain.
So, it is not only the neighbourhood cats and dogs. But all the wild ground-dwelling predators and birds of prey you need to keep out.
Now free range rabbits need to dig, and you should let them, but you can control where they dig.
They like to burrow close to fences, bushes, or large shrubs and under anything raised above the ground. Such as sheds, greenhouses, and patios or decking.
So, after rabbit proofing your garden, lay, well pegged down, cage mesh in these areas to stop them. But you must set aside one or two places where they can dig and fill them back in regularly.
Free Range House Rabbits
Before your rabbit’s arrival, make sure it cannot reach any cables, and there are no ifs or buts here. Rabbits have long sight, so they do not see things up close and will mistake wires for edible plant roots.
Encase cables in plastic trunking. Run them behind furniture or secure them at a high level and keep your bunny safe.
Now you should play safe and consider all your house plants toxic to rabbits, and the majority will be. So, please make sure the rabbits will never reach them or remove them altogether.
They are past masters at getting to things we think are safe! For example, I had a plastic ornamental Bonsai tree on my sideboard I thought was safe, and it was.
But I moved a dining chair to clean under the table and forgot to put it back, before going out. And on my return, the tree had no foliage; it was all over the floor, with the trunk in its pot and four other items.
Furniture and Soft Furnishings
So, what about your furniture and soft furnishing? Well, they will never be completely safe from your hairy house guest. You have only two options, do not have any wooden furniture or fabric in reach, or actively manage your rabbit.
But if you have a rabbit free range in your house, you will need to accept minor damage.
Let us face it, the first option is not practical, and the second for me had its drawbacks. However, my Rabbits live with me; they go where I do and are on my bed every night.
Yes, I had damage at first, but not anymore. They have learned that it is not good eating or chewing is not allowed.
But my rabbits have learnt, so we now live in relative harmony.
In conclusion, I know how I keep free range rabbits Babe and Bob may not be viable for you. I have the time it takes to supervise them and keep them in check.
But if you are thinking of having pet rabbits, you should think of their mental health and give them space. Keeping them shut in a rabbit house is not and never should be an option!
However, you do not have to let them live completely free-range; there are more ways to keep them. But, the required minimum space is six square meters if you must keep your pet rabbits contained
For a complete guide on all aspects of keeping pet rabbits, I recommend you visit the RWAF website.