Building a Great DIY Rabbit Hutch That Doesn't Cost an Arm and a Leg
Why Build Your Own Rabbit Hutch?
If you are anything like most DIY pet owners, you love the idea of building a habitat for your cute critter and hate the thought of breaking the bank for a more expensive already-assembled cage or hutch. Yes, it is true that shopping for pre-made habitats for rabbits (and their rodent ilk, such as guinea pigs, ferrets or chinchillas) may be a time-saver, but they do get pricey somewhere in the $150 and up range. However there could be other caveats as well as price to consider such as quality, durability, and overall safety of the product you may be looking at.
Although I’d love to be able to assure you that most all habitats for pets that are already assembled are safe-sometimes there are uncertainties involved. Plus, there is something more gratifying about building your own rabbit hutch from the ground up if you are truly a dyed in the wool DIY-er! There is a great deal to be said for this route: You gain control of the design and other intricacies – so if you desire a home that has certain unique features and flourishes that you just can’t find in the general premade population, then you may get to take matters into your own hands. Two: Only you know your budget, and what you have to spend on materials, so you can prioritize what parts are important to you, and not pay extra for the “frills”.
How I Upcycled an Unused Cat Pen to Rabbitat!
Here are the finer points of how I designed a great DIY habitat for my pet rabbit, “Boots” –which was partly inspired by a rabbit owner’s design that I came across online. Of course, I saw it as a jump-off point and used it as a helpful guide; I’m not a “copycat”. It’s a funny story because the rabbit habitat (or “rabbitat” as I may call it) actually started off being an outdoor enclosure for my 2 cats; but as fickle feline whims would have it, they NEVER used it, ever!! I knew I did not want to throw away all my hard work and that this enclosure could also have a second life or new purpose, e.g. a chicken coop. And when I was offered a rabbit by my sister in law, a rabbit owner who owned about 5 at one point and decided it was time for her to downsize a little-then it hit me-This would make an ideal rabbitat! Of course, there were not that many shortcuts involved. I was going to need to create some reinforcement for my current design. The enclosure was made out of wood (and rabbits love to dine on wood, as you know!) So I knew that what needed to be done first, was to line the interior with strong wire. At that point, I had covered the basics.
When you observe many other rabbit hutch designs, you see that they generally sit off the ground about two or three feet. I thought about that possibility of needing to construct some kind of pedestal base for the enclosure, but then I saw this man’s design on a Youtube video in which he constructed his hutch with an open bottom—and I must have fallen in love with that design, because I said to myself, “That’s the design I want!” Not that I felt that creating a pedestal base of four legs would be un-doable, but an open bottom would permit a natural environment of grass and other vegetation. Rabbits are herbivorous and enjoy munching on clover and other wild grasses. Also, with this kind of layout, you may find that your finished habitat will be portable as well-you can move it around to other locations in the yard. (You can expect them to do some grazing-and need to move the structure to a newer, greener patch of grass periodically.)
Get Your Design On Before You Build!
Are you an architect at heart? If you have a special design for the hutch in mind, now’s the time to draw some preliminary blueprints at this point in the game before you ever start your building excursion. Sketch in all the fine details, starting with the foundation. Ideally, you are going to want a long, rectangular or square shaped structure, but I have seen a cute triangular design as well, so that is some food for thought. I think I would have gone with the triangular/pyramid look if I wasn’t building on a fixed oblong structure already. The rabbitat needs to have a door for easy entering when you come by to bring food or water changes; ideally it needs a secure latch. If you’re picturing little ramps, tunnels, or hideaways for your bunny, draw that in too! A stimulating environment is essential for your bunny friend and should be put together with rabbit needs in mind. Unlike cats, rabbits are not big climbers, so if you are planning to include ramps they should not be steep. A little shelter hideaway is a must because in the wild, rabbits have many natural enemies and may find the need to scurry away into a safe place whenever they sense danger; even with the security of a habitat and all. Hideaways are easy to make using a large plastic storage tote; minus the lid, turned upside-down with an entrance/exit opening cut out of it, and this is a more economical option than one of those “igloo” shaped hideouts sold at pet store retailers.
Building From the Inside Out
While you may be using 2 by 4 lumber planks for the structural foundation, and the rooftop as well; the interior of the hutch/habitat needs to be lined with wire. I would recommend 16-gauge as optimum. If you are unsure or confused about selecting the right thickness when it comes to wire, an easy explanation is that gauge is the universal measurement of wire and that the larger the number; the smaller the diameter or thickness of the wire. So for example, 18 gauge will be a little thinner than 16 gauge. Wire provides good ventilation and serves to protect the rabbit from predators as well as protect the environment from structural chewing by your bunny. A rabbit’s front incisor teeth are in a continual state of growth and so they need to be chewing on wood to keep their teeth chiseled down nicely, otherwise the poor guy could have some serious problems! So remember that while the foundation of the rabbit hutch should be made of wooden 2 by 4s to be strong and sturdy, the main material itself needs to be of wire.
The wire part of your interior will be fairly inexpensive and also easily findable. You want to look for16 gauge cage wire made from galvanized steel that is sold in roll form; single rolls may be up to 10 feet in length and 24”-30” in height, and the grid pattern should be one-half inch to one inch apart .The price for each roll is fairly reasonable (around $19-$25 per roll depending on how many you purchase.) The wire can be cut and trimmed to fit using heavy duty wire cutters. Even though I bought mine at a local garden/feed supplier, Amazon.com does carry cage wire of this type. If you go with an open bottom design, you are lining the top, ends and sides with wire.
Tools and Materials Needed
• Wire cutters
• Corner brackets
• A heavy-duty staple gun (not your typical “desk kind” of stapler) Hardware stores carry these, as well as corresponding staples.
• Assorted lumber planks…there will need to be four pieces for the length, and four to eight for the ends.
• Wood for the roof of the hutch- it can be stained or painted to suit your tastes
• Galvanized steel wire made for pet enclosures
• Wire ties
How Much Will It Cost Me?
Cage Wire, per roll
Heavy duty stapler
Varies, depends on price of square yard.
Here is a great DIY-er in action:
The Long and the Short of Your Rabbit Hutch
How large does this habitat need to be? Ultimately, that’s a decision that is up to you; and it may depend on some factors. If you currently own a young bunny or bunnies, keep in mind they will get bigger as they mature, and also consider the quantity: Do you have one bunny or more than one? Are they of the same gender or opposite; in which case you know the answer here about their prolific breeding habits, unless you have gotten them neutered and spayed. However, even neutered and spayed rabbits sometimes need their space so as not to engage in turf squabbles from time to time, so you may want to consider building a partition within the hutch that you may have the option of securing part of the time. The hutch I made for my one lop-eared rabbit, is four feet wide and eight feet long. That’s pretty roomy as far as hutches go and could easily accommodate a second rabbit. As long as it can accommodate a hideaway, a food dish, water bottle, and some run-around room for the little critter, you are in the ballpark.
Some Final Thoughts For DIY-ers
I hope this information has been helpful to other s out there, considering the acquisition of a pet rabbit, as well as those who are already rabbit owners looking to improve on their design, or wish to upgrade their existing hutch. Also the above layout could be used for that of other pets as well; barring for a few modifications depending on the animal itself. You could easily spend under $100 for the building materials needed. And if you already own some of the tools listed; it will be that much less that you will need to have at your arsenal; especially if you frequent lumber yards, thrift stores or just happen to have a good amount of supplies stored up…Best of luck, and happy building!