We built our chicken coop from scratch, but decided to go the easy, pre-built route for our rabbit hutch. You can find rabbit hutches at many pet stores, but online will give you the best selection. We were able to find ours online.
There has been a successful movement by animal welfare activists to end the practice of keeping rabbits in tiny hutches with no room to exercise. Generally, they agree a minimum hutch size of 6 ft x 2 ft x 2 ft is a good place to begin, but having an attached, secure exercise run of at least 35 square feet (and at least 2 feet tall) per rabbit is also needed. This will allow the rabbits room to stretch out, hop about and engage in natural rabbit behaviors. We use our hutch as a secure “home base” area, enclosed in a much larger 150 square foot exercise yard.
The model we ordered is over 7.5 feet long, 3.5 feet high and features two levels; this would give our rabbits a roomy, secure home when they are not out in their play yard. Our chicken coop and garden beds are all painted in fun, bright colors – so I knew this hutch was going to have to make some changes to fit in with our little farm!
It’s not all about looks
Yes, I wanted to change the way our hutch looked, but there were a couple safety/practical changes we had to make first.
First, and most important, because this hutch is going to be used outdoors, the bottom floor needs to be covered. This hutch’s lower floor has an open bottom, which is fine if it is being kept indoors. Outdoors, however, you need to keep the rabbits safe from predators who might dig in and you need to stop the rabbits from digging out. You could cover the bottom with hardware cloth wire, securely screwed into the frame. To make the wire easier on the bun’s feet you should scatter hay across the floor.
If you live in a warm climate, the ground level wire floor might work fine (although it can be difficult to keep clean). If you live in an area that gets snow or has very rainy seasons, you will want to raise the hutch off the ground as a ground level run would fill with snow or mud. You should never have a rabbit living in hutch with a raised floor made of wire. The weight of the bunny walking on the unsupported wire is very bad for their feet. The stand we built has solid ceramic tile flooring . CLICK HERE TO READ ABOUT THE RAISED STAND WE BUILT**
Another hutch improvement we made was to the latches. Again, if this were an indoor hutch, the latches would be fine, but I was worried these latches could be manipulated by a resourceful raccoon. So in addition to the block of wood latch that came with the hutch, we added some secure, spring loaded eye hooks. Was this overkill? Possibly. The rabbits are out in their yard during the day and locked in the hutch at night when the predator risk is higher. For a couple dollars I have that extra piece of mind and that is a good enough reason for me!
This model rabbit hutch came with two ramps to get in and out of the upper room. We decided it was more important to give them more space downstairs without an extra ramp getting in the way. So we removed one of the ramps and covered the opening with hardware cloth to keep the rabbits from falling out the hole while still allowing the extra ventilation.
OK Now the pretty stuff!
In addition to making my hutch more fun; quality, exterior paint is a great way to protect the wood….and boring paint colors cost the same as fun colors, so why not? I only painted the outside surfaces of the hutch to limit the rabbit’s exposure to the paint in case a curious rabbit nibbled on the wood. The paint color is “Shallow Sea” from Behr. I decided to jazz up the blue a bit with some white trim, and as a finishing detail I picked up some decorative trim details and used wood glue to adhere them to the front.
I’m really happy with it – what do you think?