Last Fall Luke and I built a rabbit hutch to house 4 rabbits. I have loved that hutch ever since we moved the rabbits in. The rabbits seem to enjoy their space as well because they can socialize with one another safely through hardware cloth and still have space to hop, play and hide. I got the idea for this hutch from a Canadian rabbit breeder- his hutches were two-stories however and house up to 8 rabbits comfortably. Seeing that I am average height I did not want to have access points that were higher than eye lever or that I had to crouch down to check or grab my rabbits from. So Luke and I were able to compromise with a hutch two feet off the ground with two hutches on each side of the 4X6′ structure. Each rabbit has a small cubby they can use for a nest or just a safe space to hide in or get out of the wind as well as a shelf to jump up on. Their ceiling is vaulted so they can hop and jump comfortably.
This second hutch I am building without the help of Luke (YIKES- I am no contractor or craftsman) but I have the original hutch to use as a blueprint. There have been some modifications as I could not remember exactly how we constructed the shelf and cubbies as well as the roof on this second hutch. The materials used in this mansion were all scraped from around the property, the only added expense was the hardware for the doors and screws for the sheet metal sides and roof (roughly $20 in hinges, latches, decking screws and self-sealing screws). I love a cheap project! Since I am anticipating baby rabbits just after Easter I know I will probably want to build at least one more of these hutches, though I do not plan to keep all of the babies I would be happy to keep a few to add to my fiber production.
This four rabbit hutch stands on 4 4x4s with a frame of pressure treated 2×4’s that are six feet long and 4 feet deep. I created cross supports to make tacking down the hardware cloth a little easier. Once the cross beams were all screwed in I used small U nails to secure the hardware cloth to the floor.
Next, I built a plywood base for the center of the hutch and then alternated nesting boxes so that each rabbit would have their own cubby. Once the walls were screwed together I then secured it with another sheet of plywood for the roof of the nest box and a shelf for each rabbit to jump up onto. These hutches give the rabbits about 6 cubic feet of space. Though some may not think that my rabbits are spoiled because they live outdoors 24/7 they really are. I provide them with a high protein diet of at least 17% (I try to purchase 18% pellets when available, remarkably hard to find in my area) as well as fresh produce, hay, BOSS (black oil sunflower seeds) manna pro during gestation and clean water 24/7! And on sunny days I have pens for them to free range around the homestead and even let them play together in groups as long as they all behave. It is important to me that my animals are happy and well cared for. Okay, back to the hutch- sorry for hopping up on my soapbox for a moment… Once the center living area was completed I began to frame in the sides with 2×6’s and metal siding. Once the sides were done I worked on the center dividers to keep the rabbits from touching or harming one another. I used hardware cloth for this and some plywood so that they can still see one another as well as have good ventilation in the hutch.
I really hate working with hardware cloth on plywood. It is almost impossible to secure (without a staple gun)! So instead I added additional pieces of wood over the edges of the hardware cloth and screwed them to the plywood.
Then I added a board at the entrance of the nest to keep rabbit babies from coming out with mom after nursing. The adult rabbits tend to lay on the hardware cloth most the time and do not seem to get sore hocks like some breeders and animal lovers tend to worry about with the use of hardware cloth bottoms on cages. I think as long as they have a space to stand when they do start to get sore they will be fine.
Once I finished the roof and doors I moved in the rabbits that had been in temporary cages in a covered shed. It is so nice to have the rabbit space starting to look very uniform. Hermes was over joined by the two levels and little nook for him to nap in. I am very happy with the finished product.
Also, this week, was the birthing of five healthy angora rabbit litters! I am so blessed by their arrival as well as the arrival of a new adult chocolate buck. His family lost interest in him and decided to give him to me. Score! His name is Hercules, to fit in with all my other first-generation buns. He was severely matted but after some trimming, he was good as new!
Can’t forget the babies! Here is the largest litter from Demeter and her half-sister Hestia’s litter.
One thing to keep in mind when having angora babies is that they can get tangled in their mother’s hair and strangle themselves or cut off circulation to a limb so these photos were taken while I was removing the hair and trimming it down into 1/4 inch lengths. Once all the fiber was cut I tucked all the babies back into a nice little pile so they can keep each other warm during this Spring weather. The moms were so attentive and hopped back into the nests once I was finished with my work.
A new routine has been formed since all the babies showed up, I check on them first thing in the mornings and again before bed to make sure all babies are free of any new fiber as well as to make sure they are being fed adequately. With these new arrivals and only a hand full of them already spoken for I will need to get to work on another rabbit hutch ASAP!