To keep a rabbit outdoors you will need to invest in a good, sturdy hutch and exercise run and it is even more important to provide your rabbit with companionship...
Keeping a rabbit outdoors is the most practical way for a lot of people. The disadvantages are that you will need to invest in a good, sturdy hutch and exercise run and it is even more important to provide your rabbit with companionship in the form of another rabbit, as you will not be able to interact with them as much as with an indoor rabbit.
The hutch must be tall enough that the rabbit can stand up on its hind legs at full stretch and long/wide enough that the rabbit can take three hops in any direction. There must be enough floor space for the rabbit to stretch out full length. If you are planning to keep two rabbits in the hutch, increase the dimensions. The Rabbit Welfare Association & Fund's minimum recommended hutch size is 6ft x 2ft x 2ft with an attached exercise run of 8ft x 4ft x 2ft for a pair of rabbits.
Materials and design
Solid wood is best as it is warmer, more predator proof and will last longer. You should be able to securely bolt the doors and any wire mesh should be firmly attached to repel foxes, cats and dogs. The hutch should be raised off the ground on legs to repel predators and prevent the base becoming sodden wet. The roof should be sloping to allow rain run off and covered with roofing felt to keep the hutch watertight.
You could provide a litter tray in the corner the rabbit uses as a toilet to minimise the cleaning of the hutch.
Most hutches come with an enclosed sleeping area but if not try and partition an area off or put in a wooden or cardboard box with a hole cut in each end.
Choosing a hutch
There are a wide variety of hutches on the market ranging in cost from £50 to as much as £200. Whilst the cost of a well built, roomy hutch can seem daunting, it will last a lot longer and be much more comfortable for your rabbit. Many of the "budget" hutches sold are actually far too small for a rabbit anyway.
It is worthwhile to shop around online to make sure you are getting the most for your money - all hutches of a decent size come flat packed and require assembly so it makes little difference whether you buy online or in a petshop.
Combination hutches and runs
Some hutches are built with an exercise run at the side or beneath them. This is a good option as it allows your rabbit more exercise on a regular basis and they are often cheaper than buying a seperate hutch and exercise run. However, be aware that there is a risk your rabbit may dig its way out of the exercise run if left unsupervised. You should always shut your rabbit up in the hutch overnight for safety against predators.
Try and site the hutch in an area of your garden that is protected from the wind and preferably in a shady area so that your rabbit doesn't overheat on very hot days. During the winter, you could either move the hutch into a shed or garage for extra protection, or cover it with an old blanket/towel or specially designed "hutch snuggle".
You should clean the whole hutch out at least once a week and clean out the rabbit's toilet area more frequently, perhaps two or three times a week. For this reason it is useful to put a litter tray in the corner your rabbit uses as a toilet.
Every few months give the hutch a scrub with hot water and disinfectant spray.
You may need to replace the roofing felt on the hutch if it becomes too worn or tears, allowing water in. You can buying roofing felt at most hardware shops and fix it in place with some tacks and a hammer.
Paint the hutch with a waterproofing agent such as creosote replacement once a year before winter begins.