56 Rabbit Keeping Everything you need to know about rabbits Rabbits have a number of specific needs that you definitely need to know about to ensure your animals remain healthy and happy and feel comfortable with you. No individual penning! As rabbits are very sociable animals that live in groups in the wild, it is absolutely necessary to have two (or even better, several) animals. A single animal feels lonely and will become sick. Even a guinea pig cannot replace social contact with animals of its own kind! Female animals from the same litter usually get on best with each other. As incompatibilities may still occur, you should observe the animals very carefully at first. Male animals absolutely must be castrated, to avoid hierarchical fights on the one hand and to prevent unwanted offspring on the other. Important: Sexual maturity can occur as early as the tenth week of life in small breeds! Cage facilities: Space isn‘t everything! Rabbits need an entertaining cage environment with places to retreat into (boxes) and raised lying surfaces on which the animals like to stretch out and relax. Other hiding places (such as bridges) should also be offered which animals can explore and gnaw too. Your rabbits like lots of hutch litter so that they can at least partially bury themselves in it. Straw pellets, ear of corn granulates or wood shavings are ideal as hutch litter. Never use cat litter! A hay rack protects the feeding hay from getting dirty. For rabbits, only hay racks with a cover should be used since the animals may otherwise jump into the rack and injure themselves. Cage location: Rabbits like it light and airy, but not too hot. The cage should therefore not be placed in direct sunlight or very close to a heater. Their ideal temperature is between 15 and 22 degrees. Rising cold and draughts are harmful and can make your rabbit sick. Rabbits are typical prey animals and are therefore skittish and tend to panic if someone leans over the cage from the top. The cage should therefore be placed at a minimum height of 60 cm. Although rabbits are social animals and can become very tame, disturbances and noise near the cage (e.g. people passing by) can be stressful for the animals. The cage should therefore be in a quiet place; no noise sources should be near the cage (e.g. hi-fi systems, TVs or noisy pets). Space requirements! Rabbits are very active animals that like to move around and which require plenty of space to feel happy in. The cage/hutch must therefore be as large as possible. For two dwarf rabbits (animals which, in adulthood, do not weigh more than around 2 kg), the largest cage/hutch available in the store should be chosen if possible. As an alternative, it is also possible to use a two-tier cage in which the floors are connected by a ramp. Stores also sell outdoor enclosures for indoors and out which can be affixed to the open cage or hutch doors. Larger animals must be given more space appropriate to their size. The cage/ hutch must in any event be large enough for the animals to be able to stand up (on their hind legs) and use raised lying surfaces.