How to Build a Rabbit Hutch
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Although there are cheap rabbit hutches and cages on the market, many rabbit guardians choose to build a bunny hutch themselves, so as to ensure their rabbit is housed in the best possible conditions. Making your own rabbit hutch allows you to customize your pet's space. With a DIY rabbit hutch you can choose larger dimensions, or better features without having to pay the extra price that bigger cages or accessories usually bring.
If you have adopted a rabbit and are thinking of making a rabbit cage or hutch at home, you have come to the right place. In this AnimalWised article we explain all you need to know about how to build a rabbit hutch, from the materials needed for a simple hutch to types of hutches you can build and precautions to take. Keep reading for simple step by step instructions on how to build your bunny the best possible home in which to live a happy and healthy life.
What materials do you need to build a rabbit hutch?
The first step in building a rabbit hutch is choosing the right materials. To do this, you must consider the elements you need to include in the hutch to meet a rabbit's basic hygiene and living needs. You can also add extra features especially suited to your bunny. Here are some basic things to consider when planning to build a rabbit hutch:
- The hutch should be weather resistant, if you plan to build it outdoors.
- It should be easy to clean and keep dry.
- The hutch should be big enough for your rabbit to move around in.
Keeping these basic elements in mind, here are some of the best materials with which to build a budget-friendly hutch for rabbits:
- Wood: this is the best material to use for the frame.
- Wire mesh: to create the ‘walls’ of the hutch.
- Aluminum: to create bars, and for the base or floor of the hutch.
- Hard plastic: also ideal for the base, as well as to create roofs.
Types of rabbit hutches
In order to choose the best materials you should also make a plan for your rabbit hutch. There are many different styles of rabbit hutches, and your plan will depend on the type of hutch you want to build. For example:
- Outdoor rabbit run
- Indoor cage
- Hutch/cage with open roof
- Hutch on the ground
- Hutch with a built base
- Multi-storied hutch
- Multi-unit hutch
- Portable hutch
- Hutch with attached run
Once you have chosen the style of enclosure best suited to your bunny (or bunnies), you will be ready to collect the necessary materials and start building your own DIY rabbit hutch.
How to build a basic rabbit hutch - step by step
There are many types of rabbit cages and hutches and as many ways for building them at home. Here we give you instructions for how to build a basic and simple rabbit hutch. This could be an indoor rabbit cage or an outdoor hutch. To the basic structure you can add features like the ones described above to make the hutch more elaborate or customize it for your rabbit.
Supplies to build a basic rabbit hutch
Preparing your materials is the first step. To build a simple rabbit hutch you will need:
- Sturdy wooden planks for the frame and structural support
- Wire mesh or netting suitable for rabbits
- Plywood panels or hard plastic for the floor/roof
- Stainless steel hinges and lock for the door
Steps to build a basic rabbit hutch
- First, measure the space - inside your home or in your garden - where you are going to place the bunny hutch. This will help you plan the size of your hutch accurately.
- Make a plan of how you would like the hutch to look, and note down its dimensions. You can also use an existing rabbit hutch plan. Remember that for a single rabbit, the hutch should be have an area of at least 80 cm2 .
- Choose the materials with which you will build the rabbit hutch. As we have explained above, wood and wire mesh will make up the main structure. Plywood, hard plastic or aluminium can be used for the floor and roof.
- Cut the materials to size, using the dimensions in your hutch plan.
- Mount the frame and base of the rabbit hutch, then attach the wire mesh to the wood using staples.
- Finally, check that there are no sharp edges or bits of wire sticking out that could harm the rabbit.
Remember to also build a door to let your rabbit in and out. You could also build a hutch with a removable roof, as this will facilitate the task of cleaning the rabbit hutch.
How to build an outdoor rabbit hutch - step by step
If you want your rabbit to live outside, another good idea is to build your rabbit a larger hutch, sometimes called a rabbit run or pen. Keep in mind that your bunny will need a lot of space in which to move, so if your garden is small, we advise against this option.
Steps to build a rabbit pen with wood
A wooden run for rabbits is a large, open roofed pen made primarily from wood. Instead of the wire mesh described in the previous section, you will be using wooden fences. You can buy ready-made wooden fence panels, which are very easy to find and put in place, or you can build your own wooden fence. To build the pen, you will have to do the following:
- Choose the area where you plan to build the rabbit hutch and measure it to determine the dimensions of the run.
- Mark the ground, using small objects like pebbles, to help you know the boundaries of the pen.
- If you have purchased wooden fences, place them along the boundaries you have marked and drive them firmly into the ground.
- You can cover the hutch with a mesh roof, but if the fences are over a meter high, the rabbit will not be able to jump them.
- Finally, you can cover the ground with with hay or other soft and material.
A wooden rabbit pen such as this cannot be the rabbit's only home, as it does not protect them from the elements. Rather, it is a good place for a rabbit to spend a few hours every day and get its daily exercise.
Steps to build a rabbit pen with wire
Another way to build a run is using wood only for the frame and wire for the walls, as we did with the basic rabbit hutch. Here you will use wooden beams for the frame structure.
- As in the previous case, first choose where your rabbit pen will go. Measure the space and determine the dimensions of the hutch.
- Cut the wooden beams to size, drive the posts into the ground and and nail on the other planks to make the frame of the pen. Make sure the beams are well secured in the ground and will not fall.
- Cover the structure with wire mesh, attaching it to the wood using brackets or staples.
- You can close the wire hutch with a solid or mesh roof, or you can leave it open. You can also cover the ground in hay or grass.
For both the wooden and wire outdoor hutches, remember to build in a door. For the door, you can use hinges that are easily found at most hardware stores.
Building a DIY rabbit hutch - precautions
In addition to the making sure the rabbit hutch is big enough, here are some other precautions to take into account when building an outdoor rabbit hutch at home:
- Height: if you are building an open rabbit hutch or pen, always make sure the sides are tall enough so that your rabbit does not escape. Bunnies are able to jump quite high, so the sides of the hutch you build should be at least a meter high.
- Rain: weather conditions can be a serious problem for a rabbit in an outdoor hutch, especially if it rains. If your hutch does not have an insulated roof, you must ensure that inside the run there is a smaller hutch or covered space where the rabbit can take shelter from the rain. Another option is to place a plastic tarp over the hutch. You can secure the tarp with staples, if the pen is made of wood, or with brackets if it is made of wire.
- Sun: although the sun is good and necessary for bunnies, too much direct and constant sun is not. When building the hutch you should ensure your rabbit has a shady place to shelter in. Keep in mind the heat stroke in rabbits can be fatal.
- Material: another thing to consider is the material you use to build the rabbit hutch. If you decide to build a rabbit pen made completely of wood, two things can happen over time: your rabbit may eventually bite through the wooden fence and could escape, or rain can dampen and rot the walls of the hutch. Therefore, it is important to choose the best, more durable building materials, and carry out regular maintenance of the rabbit hutch as well. When choosing mesh wire, make sure it is suitable for rabbits (don't use chicken wire, for example). When building a rabbit hutch outdoors, the material should be sturdy and the gaps small enough to keep potential predators, such as foxes or ferrets, out.
- Base: if you build a hutch or pen directly on the ground it is advisable to secure the base, since a rabbit can dig through soil and escape.
How to care for a rabbit
In addition to a good hutch, your rabbit needs other basic attentions to be able to live a healthy and happy life. For example, inside the rabbit's hutch or cage, it is important to provide a few key features:
- A covered space where the rabbit can hide or shelter
- A water dispenser
- Plenty of hay
- A bowl for food
- Fresh green leafy vegetables
- A corner litter box
For more information on looking after rabbits, take a look at this AnimalWised article on tips for raising rabbits, and our complete video guide to rabbit care below.
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