Caring for Outdoor Hutch Rabbits: Ten tips for keeping your rabbits healthy and safe, and for building pet, 4-H, show, and meat rabbit hutches.
Where do they keep rabbits in France?
In the hutch back of Notre Dame!
…Okay, dumb joke. But if you are starting in rabbits and want to keep them in the hutch ‘back of your house, here are ten tips that can help them stay safe and healthy.
1. Use weatherproof materials to build 4-H rabbit hutches. The legs of your hutch should be of pressure-treated lumber so dampness in the ground won’t rot them as quickly. However, the upper part of the hutch that supports the cage should not be pressure-treated, because you don’t want your rabbits ingesting the chemicals in the wood. The sides and roof of your cage will take a beating from the weather, so make the sides and roof of sturdy plywood. The roof of my first rabbit hutch was particleboard that quickly fell apart. Even OSB weathers after a while. If you can shingle the roof that’s great! You can cut a piece of plastic tarp to go over the roof, but water will seep under it. Never use chicken wire for rabbit hutch construction. It may not be strong enough to hold up against the rabbits, let alone any predators.
2. Keep the rabbit in a removable cage that slides into the hutch. Don’t attach the wire directly to the wood. A removable cage is much easier to clean. Also, you aren’t relying on wood to keep your rabbit in. A rabbit with determination will chew through a 2×4 in remarkably little time.
3. Put the cage on L-brackets inside the hutch. Build the frame bigger than the cage and attach L-brackets to the inside of the 2×4’s to support the cage. This way, rabbits can not chew the wood as easily, and droppings have less surface area to catch on than if the cage was supported by wood.
4. Use sliding plastic rabbit drop trays with your outdoor rabbit hutches. Trust me on this one! Although it seems like part of the joy of keeping your rabbits outside to not have to dump trays every week, you really should cover the bottom of your rabbit cage. I’ve had raccoons kill show rabbits from underneath and pull off toes, because the bottom of the cage was not protected.
5. Keep your outside rabbit cages high off the ground. This is just another method to keep your pet rabbits safe from predators. Keeping the floor your cages at least 3 feet off the ground may also prevent young children from opening the cages and letting your rabbits loose