If you are planning to build a Bunny hutch – in your home or a barn for instance, following these simple steps will make the entire process a whole lot easier.
The size of your cage is a very important thing to consider, as generally, you want to go as big as you possibly can. The minimum area a rabbit should be confined in is 1,1 square metres, they also need additional space to manoeuvre and exercise. Ideally, your setup must allow them the required freedom to keep healthy.
The location your cage will occupy in your home must go hand in hand with cage size. There is no point building the perfect cage and then finding out that it won’t fit through a doorway or is blocking a plug socket you need access to.
You should look around your home for opportune places to create something ‘built-in’- like taking advantage of a cupboard, or any available spare space that could be adapted into rabbit housing.
Any materials you use in making your cage need to be chew-proof and non-toxic. There are lots of options depending on how you want your cage to look and on the needs of your rabbit.
Most untreated wood is fine for example pine, for sheets – plywood is commonly used to build outdoor rabbit housing. MDF is quite toxic if ingested or the dust is inhaled, so unless the wood is where your rabbit can’t touch it then it’s best avoided. Different cuts of wood can be used for different purposes. For example, trim is good for covering edges that might get chewed and skirting boards can make a nice tray.
Corrugated plastic sheets are easy to use as building material – though they aren’t very chew-proof.
If your cage will include a mesh section, it is advisable to use weld mesh which creates a nicer finish. Plastic or powder-coated mesh can look better than bare wire.
Generally, fitting the mesh on the inside of the frame gives a neater finish and also helps prevent your rabbit from chewing the frame.
Choosing flooring that’s easy to clean can make cleanout day much easier. Lino or safety flooring is a great option as it’s fairly cheap, it can be cut to any size and is easy to install. Safety flooring is harder (good for digger/chewers) and has more grip than standard lino. It’s the type of flooring you often find in vets’ waiting rooms.
The edges can then be finished off with bathroom sealant to give a neat finish, protect them from chewing and prevent any liquid running underneath. Alternatively, you’ll find a range of trims, either flat to cover joins or corner shaped to hide edges – this is a good option if you have had trouble cutting the flooring edges neatly as they get hidden under the trim!
If you find your floor choice doesn’t have enough grip, you can also add a rug, woven mat or rubber stable matting over the floor afterwards.
If you have the height available, adding a shelf to the cage can be a good way to add extra floor space and rabbits like to have a raised platform as a rest. If the shelf is quite low e.g. less than one foot (30cm) your rabbit may be able to jump up and down easily without any help. For higher shelves or less agile rabbits, you can add a ramp – easy to make from a flat piece of board with pieces of trim to create grip.
One of the benefits of building your own cage is it doesn’t have to look like a cage. You can pick materials that give you a lovely transformed finish to fit in with your home furnishings.
It’s very important to consider your cleaning routine when designing a rabbit cage. A lot of commercial cages are let down by how difficult it is to clean them. Make sure doors are wide enough to easily remove the litter tray for cleaning and that ramps and boxes don’t leave items and that are difficult to reach. Making a ramp removable can make sweeping around it a lot easier. Also, consider the depth of your cage and how long your arms are to make your task easier.
Add some fun materials like logs for bunnies to play on
If you are away for long periods then you’re going to need to provide your rabbit with lots of things to do. This includes lots of safe toys to toss about, explore in and chew to keep them stimulated. Each rabbit has its own favourite toys and behaviours; so as you learn these you will get to know what to discard and what to get from the pet store. It’s best to keep a stock of toys and rotate them to keep them interested.
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Read our previous article here: https://www.huduhealth.com/doing-diy-while-on-lockdown/