Whether your rabbit is a family pet or a 4H or FFA project, it needs a safe, clean hutch. Hutch designs must match the needs of the total number and breed of rabbits you intend to raise. It should provide fresh air and shade in warm weather, protect your rabbits from strong winds and rain in cold weather, and be easy to keep clean, according to the 4H rabbit project book, "Rabbits, Rabbits, Rabbits."
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Things you need
- Heavy leather work gloves
- Wrap-around eye protection
- 3-feet wide, 14-gauge, 1/2-inch by 1-inch wire mesh
- Wire cutters
- 2 by 4 inch stock lumber
- Box of 1/4-inch diameter, 6-inch long wood screws
- Power drill, 1/8-inch diameter bit, countersink bit
- 1/2-inch thick plywood sheets
- Staple gun and 2-inch staples
- Tack hammer
- Corrugated roofing material
Multiply the total number of small-breed rabbits you need to house by 140 square inches, the minimum sleeping/nesting floor space you will need, according to "Rabbits, Rabbits, Rabbits." Multiply the total number of large-breed rabbits by 216 square inches. For example, if you need to house five small-breed rabbits, you will need 700 square inches of floor space for the sleeping area, while five large-breed rabbits will need 1080 square inches.
Multiply the numbers from the previous step by four to get the total floor space needed. This provides your rabbit with enough indoor floor space to move freely at least three times his body length and ensures that it can get enough exercise when it is too wet or cold to be in the outdoor run.
Divide the total square inches by 144 to get the total number of square feet needed for your hutch. For example, to house five large-breed rabbits, you need 4320 square inches or 30 square feet of floor space. This converts to a 10 by 3 foot long cage floor. Five small-breed rabbits will be comfortable with a 3-foot by 7-foot floor space, which is a little larger than the 19.5 square feet you get after performing all the calculations.
Don heavy leather work gloves and wraparound eye protection. Cut 3-feet wide, 14-gauge, 1/2-inch by 1-inch wire mesh to the length needed for your number of rabbits.
Cut 2-inch-by-4-inch stock lumber to the lengths needed to create your top and bottom frames, including four floor joists. For example, if you need a 10 by 3 foot floor space, cut four 10-foot-long and eight 32-inch-long pieces to create the top and bottom frames. Cut 10 pieces 16-inch long to place between the top and bottom frames to create a 10 by 3 by 2 foot hutch.
Turn all but the 16-inch-long boards on their 2-inch sides. Place two of the short pieces of 2 by 4-inch stock lumber between the long pieces, with all corners and edges flush. Drill two pilot holes, 1/8-inch diameter, through the long boards, into each end of each short board, 2 inches apart, vertically.
Space the four floor joists an equal distance apart, between the long boards. Drill two 1/8-inch diameter pilot holes, 2 inches apart vertically, through the long sides and into each end of each support board. This creates your bottom frame. The top frame may need one additional joist every 4 to 6 feet if you use plywood for the roof or if your hutch is longer than 8 feet and your area is subject to heavy snowfall.
Secure the 14-gauge, 1/2 by 1-inch wire mesh to the bottom frame using a staple gun and 2-inch staples. Carpentry staples are resin-coated. The resin heats as you drive the staple into the wood, preventing the staples from loosening, according to floor-installation website, Hardwood Installer. Use a tack hammer to pound the staples into the wood to prevent your rabbit from injuring itself.
Secure the side boards to the end boards using 1/4-inch diameter wood screws. Repeat to make the top frame. Position the 16-inch pieces between the top and bottom frames, with all corners and edges flush and secure with two wood screws, 2-inch apart, through the top and bottom frames, into the 16-inch pieces.
Cut 2 by 3-foot pieces of plywood to make the sides of your hutch. Secure the sides to the top and bottom frame using wood screws every four inches, beginning 1-inch from the front and back of the hutch.
Cut one additional 2 foot by 4-inch board the same length as the hutch. Place it on its 2-inch edge at the front of the top frame and secure it using wood screws every 4 to 6 inches. This will create just enough roof pitch that rain will roll off and snowfall will be easier to remove.
Measure and cut corrugated roofing material. Secure it to the top frame according to manufacturer's instructions.
Measure the height of the person who will be caring for the rabbits most often. Cut four posts long enough to place the cage floor at a comfortable height, just above the care provider's waist.
Place the hutch on top of the posts. Secure the hutch using 2-inch staples through the floor and into the tops of the posts. Hammer all staples into the wood to prevent injuring your rabbit's feet.
Drive two lengths of 1-inch diameter black-steel pipe 2 feet deep into the ground, 2 feet from each end of the front of the hutch. Attach a 90-degree elbow to the upper end of each pipe, with the open ends facing one another.
Cut a piece of black-steel pipe the same length as the distance between the two pipes and thread both ends. Screw the pipe into the elbows.
Secure chicken wire to cover the space between the edge of the hutch roof and the pipe frame. Secure additional chicken wire around the front posts and the pipe frame to create your run.
Cut a hole large enough for your largest rabbit in the front of the hutch. Attach a series of 12-inch wide boards to create a gently-sloped ramp from the ground to the entrance hole.
Tips and warnings
- "Very large" is in the eye of the beholder, and is not always the best choice for your number and breed of rabbit. If you have three or fewer small-breed rabbits and live in a colder region, your rabbits may not be able to stay warm. Provide appropriate-sized nesting boxes for sleeping and some kind of bedding material into which your rabbits can burrow in colder weather. Hutches should face south and be under trees for shade if possible.
- Rabbits can catch diseases from both wild and domestic rabbits and from any items that have touched other affected rabbits. Apply disinfectants or household bleach to your entire hutch inside and out on a regular schedule.
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