Do rabbits' need a platform?
Rabbits are a prey species and therefore it is important that they are able to scan their area for threats, such as prey species. A ‘look-out’ point will, therefore, reduce anxiety and provide a potential ‘bolt hole’ should they feel scared. A platform will also benefit your rabbits by providing a useful structure to enhance physical fitness, as jumping on and off a raised area will help keep their weight healthy and their bones strong. Always ask your vet for advice before adding platforms to your rabbits’ enclosure to ensure that they are installed and used safely.
A 'look-out' point
Platforms can act as ‘look out’ points, allowing rabbits to scan their surroundings for danger. Platforms are therefore likely to reduce anxiety and many rabbits may use them as potential ‘bolt holes’, somewhere safe to go if they’re afraid (i.e. like hiding places).
Exercise for rabbits
Platforms are useful in building physical fitness and bone strength, as jumping on/off them is an important weight-bearing exercise.
If your rabbit has previously been kept in a restricted environment with little/no opportunity to exercise and jump onto objects, ask your vet for advice before providing platforms, to ensure they don’t injure themselves (as they may be prone to fractures due to poor bone strength). In this situation (and following veterinary advice), you may need to provide low platforms initially and gradually increase their height as your rabbit’s fitness and bone strength improves.
Give rabbits' plenty of room
Ideally when on platforms, rabbits should be able to stand on their hind legs without their ears touching the roof of their enclosure.
Ensure the platform roof is made of non-slip material to avoid injuries when rabbits jump on/off them. Platforms must be strong enough to withstand the weight of one or more rabbits jumping onto it (depending on how many rabbits you house together).
Ensure the height of platforms is suitable for your rabbits (i.e. at a height they can easily jump onto); if necessary add interval platforms or a solid, low ramp (not too steep and has footholds) to allow rabbits to access the platform easily. Many platforms can act as hiding places and vice versa.
- straw bales,
- top of strong cardboard boxes,
- wooden crates,
- tree stumps (from fruit trees not treated with chemicals),
- low hutch in an outside exercise run,
- wooden shelter with a low, flat roof.
If rabbits are housed in sheds, adding low shelves will increase floor area and provide elevated resting platforms.