Building a Rabbit Hutch
Whether you want to be a successful rabbit breeder and decide to start your own commercial rabbitry or whether you’re just an ordinary person looking for a small furry animal to lighten up your day; your first and most important step to is to make sure that your rabbits are in good hands. This of course means, they need to have a good comfortable shelter.
Image Courtesy of BackWoods Mama
Now here at Crossroads Rabbitry, we have thousands of cages so our setup will be different from most. Our cages are built-in 50′ runs. Most backyard growers will only have 2-8 cages so a much smaller shelter is required. Building your own rabbit hutch is hard work and takes time to finish. However, if you like do-it-yourself projects and want to add your own touch to the hutch, it’s a terrific DIY project. Here’s some tips on building a rabbit hutch.
There are several different types of hutches that you can make for your rabbit(s). If your rabbit is going to be inside, you really only just need the cage, then you can let the rabbit run around the house. If caged inside, make sure you keep it away from any poisons or hazards. A popular outdoor hutch is an indoor building or a shed. These are usually only used when you raise rabbits for family consumption or you have a lot of them as pets. But if you’re not lucky enough to a have a building and just want the hutch alone, here are some good notes to help.
Step 1: Plan Your Design
Standard rabbit hutches are made using wood, roofing material and metal wiring. The size and shape that you need may vary depending on the number of rabbits that you’d like to keep. Draw up the design you wish for and don’t be afraid to look up plans online. This will help when figuring up a budget and to get a material list needed.
Here’s one way to design a hutch but here are some things to keep in mind:
- Your rabbits should have enough room to sit up and stretch out on their hind legs in the hutch. You should also keep in mind the age of your rabbit, its present size as well as its full size at adulthood.
- The hutch should be four times the size of the rabbit, enough to allow the rabbit to move freely.
- When designing your hutch(s) make sure the height is a minimum of 16″ tall. We actually prefer 18″. Also, focus on width more than depth. We’ve found out the hard way to not go over 24 or 30 inches deep. This is because your arms are only so long. Any deeper cage makes it difficult to clean and collect babies, toys or crocks etc. If you want an over-sized cage for your rabbit(s) go wider not deeper.
- Rabbits should be housed separately, but if kept together the hutches should be divided into different sections. Remember if you house a male and female together it won’t be long til you have a lot more little rabbits. Rabbits are solitary creatures and prefer to be alone. They will fight as they reach maturity so try to house them apart.
- When it comes to the outside of the hutch, the most important consideration is that you don’t want the base of the hutch to touch the ground. The best way to do this is to build the hutch on legs of at least four feet tall. Some growers brace the cages off from the ceiling if applicable. Regardless of how you brace them, they need to be up off the ground and secure. There should be no swinging or swaying.
Cage sizes depend on the size of the rabbit.
*for small breeds…….24x24x18
*for medium breeds…24x30x18
*for larger breeds……24x36x18 or 30x30x18 or 30x36x18
Step 2: Gather and cut the required wood
As soon as you have completed your design or plans, you’ll need to gather the lumber. Depending on the size of hutch you’d like to build, the dimensions of the cage will vary. Try to think sturdy when you are planning. Use 4″ x 4″ posts. Treated lumber will hold up better against the elements but use non-toxic or non treated lumber if the rabbit(s) can come in contact with it. Treated lumber can kill a rabbit if it chews on it and it will. We try not to have any wood near our cages. We have them hanging with chain and brace them off from the ceiling. Remember when cutting, measure twice and cut once. Take your time.
Step 3: Gather and cut your wire mesh.:
- Chicken wire is not strong enough to contain a rabbit hutch or even prevent predators from gaining access to your rabbits. So instead of chicken wire, we suggest using 14 or 16 gauge galvanized wire that is made specifically for birds or rabbits. The top mesh and sides of the cage should be 1” x 2” or 1” x 1”. However, the floor of the hutch should be ½” x 1” to support the rabbit’s feet. The flooring definitely needs to be heavier; a 14 ga. galvanized after weld wire works great.
- Make sure that you have a good pair of wire cutters on hand so that you can adequately cut the wire. You should also plan to have a Dremel tool or metalworking file tool so that you can remove any sharp edges or protrusions from the wire.
- You should be able to find the wiring at any of the rabbit cage suppliers online. Many of them even offer it in full rolls, say of 50’ to 100’. This way you can cut the wiring according to your preference. Alternatively, you can purchase a pre-made rabbit hutch from your favorite pet store and then, you can simply build a frame around it.
Step 4: Review the remaining supplies.
There are supplies that are not really needed but they may be good to have.
- If you are building rabbit housing, you’ll need a tray for their droppings. Drop trays are not mandatory, but they’ll make cleaning beneath the rabbit hutch a much more pleasant experience. They also add some extra protection from the bottom of the cage. This means that you won’t have to worry about sweeping all of their excrement’s from beneath the cage.
- You’ll also need roofing materials. Roofing materials such as shingles, plastic, plexiglass, sheet metal, tin etc will add extra protection from the elements and will make your hutch last longer. This is to ensure that your rabbit hutch will offer clean and safe protection from the natural elements.
Building the Cage
1. Create the basic frame. Now that you have your rolls of wire, it’s time to start cutting and building a cage.
- For a 24″ deep x 36 “wide x 18″ tall cage use 1” x 2″ wire for the front, back, top and ends . Use wire cutters to cut the pieces.. For example: for this cage that is 24” x 36″ x 18″ you would cut 2 pieces of 18″ wide wire at 36” long. Again, these 2 pieces will be for the front and back of the cage. The top of the cage will be 24″ wide and 36″ long The next 2 pieces will be 24″ wide and 18″ tall. These 2 pieces would be for the ends.
- Cut a piece of your tighter-meshed floor wire as well; the 1/2″ x 1″. Make sure it’s the same length as the longer pieces you just cut. The floor of the cage should be 24″ wide and 36″ long.
- Using C-rings, attach the two smaller pieces of wire you cut to one of the longer pieces in order to create the back and sides of the cage.
2. Attach the top and bottom. Don’t get carried away and just start attaching everything at once. Remember that you might want to add a divider (if cage is large enough for two rabbits) and you might want to leave room for a drop tray.
- Take the section of floor wire, the one with the tighter mesh, and use C-rings to attach this to the cage, but not at the very bottom. Attach it about several inches from the very bottom to allow yourself space to add the drop tray.
- Attach the front of the cage, again using C-rings.
- Punch holes in the edges of your divider (if applicable) and attach it with C-rings to the inside of the cage. Make sure your divider leaves enough room for your rabbit to move around freely from area to area.
- Put the top on the cage and make sure to attach the divider to this as well.
- You can now attach the final piece of wire on the very bottom of the cage, which can be used to hold the drop tray.
- Use your wire cutters to cut an opening at the front of the cage so you can slide the drop trays in and out.
3. Create a space for the door. Now you have a great cage, but unfortunately nothing can get in or out.
- Cut an opening in the front of the cage and be sure to cover the exposed edges with plastic trim. Make sure you make the door large enough for nest boxes, crocks etc.
- From the spare wire that you have left, cut a piece for your door that is slightly bigger than the hole you made in the cage. The door can be attached at the top, bottom or sides with C-rings. We prefer our doors to drop down to be out of the way while working.
IMPORTANT: If you are going to build an outdoor hutch, good ventilation is a must. You need to try to construct your hutch where it gets good air flow. You can also hang fans to blow air around for them. Also, remember when making the roof, to put it at a slant so that the rain water won’t build up on it.
Here’s a basic rabbit hutch
Pictures of other hutches.
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