Hides/Shelters for rabbits
In their natural habitat rabbit's protect themselves from predators by having underground tunnels they can run into and hide. Their tunnel systems have multiple entrances to provide quick boltholes in an emergency. Pet rabbits, like wild rabbits, feel more secure when they know there is a safe place nearby to hide in if they are frightened.
A rabbit's concept of what is safe cover is different to a human's. A rabbit can panic in a secure mesh run or cage and feel safe in a cardboard box. They do not understand the concept of a mesh barrier being secure against predators. To a rabbit it feels like they are out in the open, whereas an enclosed box, even if it is just cardboard, provides the illusion of a safe hiding place. Having somewhere to hide will make your rabbit more relaxed in their home, even if they do not actually need to hide very often.
Outdoor Rabbit Shelters
A wooden shelter
(available for £30 via Amazon)
A hideaway or shelter is particularly important outside, as there are more things that may startle your rabbit such as a passing cat, a bird flying over head or your neighbour mowing the lawn. If your rabbit's hutch and run are connected, then the hutch itself may work as a hide, but if you have a big run or the run and hutch are separate you'll need somewhere for your rabbit to take cover.
Hides do not have to be giant; a tunnel would work fine. You just need something that will fit all your rabbits comfortably. As a hide can double up as shelter from the rain or shade from the sun, if you have room choose or make one large enough so your rabbit's can stretch out comfortably.
A wooden house, in the style of a small kennel, makes an excellent shelter for rabbits. When choosing, look at the size and construction. If you are looking online sizes can be misleading as they are often picture them with baby rabbits - make sure you read the dimensions to make sure your rabbit will actually fit! A simple 'three walls and a roof' design will work fine and is relatively cheap (£15-20). A sturdier construction with legs and a floor (£25-35) will offer slightly more protection if your rabbit's hutch is separate. On grass a shelter with legs will last longer as they keep the wood away from the damp ground.
Hideaway Box with Floor
£29 inc. delivery Ebay
Small Rabbit Shelter
£14 from Ebay
Hop Inn Hideout
£31 from Amazon
An alternative to a specifically designed rabbit box shelter is a small hutch. Two - three foot hutches are much too small to use as living spaces, but they are easy to pick up second hand and with the doors removed make excellent shelters.
With the divider, floor and mesh door removed, and a new coat of paint this too-small hutch makes an excellent shelter for bunnies Summer & Skye.
Other DIY rabbit shelters
A shelter doesn't have to be a wooden box. Anything that offers cover will work. For example a tunnel, plastic stool, a small table or a bucket lying on its side.
Somewhere to hide is just as important for indoor bunnies. It helps them feel secure and provides somewhere to run for those one off occasions something scary happens e.g. fireworks, you dropping a saucepan or a visiting guest they don't like. The types of hideaway used outside will work just as well indoors, but as you don't have to worry about the rain, indoors you can also use cardboard.
Cardboard boxes make great hiding places for rabbit's and they have fun playing (and chewing) them too. A single box with a door cut will work but you can also get more elaborate and add several connected with tunnels or boxes within boxes to make second levels.
If you fancy something a little more posh that an old box, you can get preformed castles, houses and mazes too. Keep in mind though, most rabbits will shred cardboard so don't expect your expensive cardboard box to last too long.