How to Build a Rabbit Hutch. Find step by step rabbit hutch building instructions in this exclusive build rabbit housing article.
The home-built rabbit hutch has been the traditional rabbit housing for hundreds of years, ever since rabbits were first domesticated in Catholic monasteries around 1500 AD. In the following centuries, country children cared for their rabbits in wooden hutches. Fanciers used them in the 1800’s when the rabbit showing hobby was born. Many families built wooden hutches in the early 20th century, when rabbits were an important food source during both World Wars. In the 1950’s and 60’s all-wire cages finally became more popular for rabbits, but the traditional hutch has never died out. Thousands of 4-H’ers, small farmers, and hobbyists still find wooden cages to be the best fit for their breeding projects.
Making Rabbit Housing Safe
As you plan how to build a rabbit hutch, make sure it offers the security and comfort that rabbits need to thrive. The rabbit must be protected from sun, rain, and wind on all sides, and yet be allowed adequate ventilation. The legs of the hutch should be tall enough to protect the rabbits inside from dogs, raccoons, and other predators. Lastly, as you build the cage you should look out for splinters in the wood or rough edges on the wire that can injure your rabbits’ eyes or nose.
Proper Materials for Building a Rabbit Hutch
The earliest rabbit hutches were made entirely of wood, including the floors. Later concrete cages came into use. Today, many European breeders still use solid-floored cages, but most American hutches combine wood and wire to produce secure and sanitary rabbit housing. Here we will discuss how to build an American-style rabbit hutch.
The best option is to start with a separate, all-wire cage that can be entirely removed from the hutch, then build a wooden frame for it. This is not only sturdier than a cage constructed of wire-nailed-to-wood, but it’s easier to move and to clean. You can purchase the all-wire cage from a rabbit supply company, or you can build it yourself.
Rabbit Cages must be made of 14 or 16 gauge galvanized wire. Chicken wire and hardware cloth are not strong enough for rabbit housing; rabbits can break out and predators can break in easily. The sides of the cage should be 1×2” or 1×1” mesh. The floor should be ½ x1” mesh, with the ½” side facing up.
You can use pressure treated lumber for the legs of the hutch. They will be in contact with moisture on the ground and more susceptible to rot. However, you should never use treated lumber for the crosspieces of the hutch, which will be right next to the cage. Rabbits will chew on any wood that they can access. Though the chemicals in treated lumber may not be strong enough to hurt your rabbit, it’s certainly not worth the risk.
Rabbit Hutch Building Materials List:
• An all-wire rabbit cage
• Pressure-treated 4×4 posts for the legs of the hutch
• 2×4 lumber for the crosspieces
• Metal L-brackets to support the cage
• Metal or plastic drop tray (optional)
• OSB or plywood for sides and roof of hutch
• Shingles, metal roofing, plastic, or other roofing material (recommended)
Tools you will need to build a rabbit hutch:
• J-clips, J-clip pliers, and wire cutters (if you build your own wire cage)
• Measuring tape
• Nails, screws, hammer, screwdriver, and saw
Rabbit Hutch Building Instructions
Once you have a cage, obtain the lumber you need and cut four legs from the 4×4 posts. The legs should keep the cage floor at least three feet off the ground, especially if the hutch will not be in a fenced area. The front legs should be slightly higher than the back legs to produce a slanting roof. Then take untreated 2×4 lumber and make a frame around the cage that is slightly larger than the cage itself. To the inside of the bottom of this frame, attach metal L-brackets to hold the cage. Make the frame large enough that you can set the cage inside it resting on the L-brackets, and then remove the cage without having to take apart the hutch. If the cage is resting on brackets instead of straight on the wood, it will protect the wood from chewing, and prevent droppings from building up on the 2×4’s. Attach the posts to the outside of the wood frame. Cut OSB or plywood sides and attach these to the posts with nails or with hinges. (Hinges allow the sides to be opened to let air flow in on good weather days.) Attach the roof and cover it with plastic sheeting, shingles, or metal roofing material to prevent weather damage. Lastly, you can attach another set of L-brackets to the insides of the legs, allowing a drop-tray to slide in. The drop tray is optional; most people prefer to let the droppings fall to the ground than deal with cleaning out a tray every week. However, this author has had raccoons attack hutch rabbits through the wire floors, and strongly recommends covering the floor with a drop tray.
After the hutch is finished, situate it in a shady, weather-proof location. Ideally, you should be able to see the hutch from your house, so you can keep an eye out for predators or escaped bunnies.
See Also our Article on: How to Build a Rabbit Cage
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