How to build a rabbit hutch

11 Jun
This will be an ongoing post through the day.  As right now our rabbit hutch looks like this.
Future home of our five hole rabbit hutch

Future home of our five hole rabbit hutch

This is where our five hole rabbit hutch will be once we have built it.  The reason behind a 5 hold rabbit hutch is that we will have 1 buck servicing 4 does.  Now I have never been very good at building things with wood.  Well unless you think that a wood project should lean and wobble that is.  So I have decided to build it out of PVC.  Yes, you read that right!  Cutting and gluing is something I learned to do very well on the sewing table.

After a trip to Home Depot and through the storage shed, Craft room, storage room and every other place the unfinished projects, or project left overs have been stored, this is what you end up with.

The rabbit hutch supplies

The supplies we hope will become the five hole rabbit hutch

The supplies are

  • Two set of wire shelves from the Craft Room
  • A dozen or so 1″ pvc fittings, elbows, 4 way crosses, Ts
  • Fresh bottle of PVC glue
  • 16 gauge galvanized wire
  • Orange home depot buckets (their bedrooms)
  • 20 sticks of 10′ x 1″ PVC
  • 2 sheets of 10′ metal roofing
  • All the small holed hardware cloth I had laying around
  • All the chicken wire I had laying around
  • A drill
  • A pair of wire nippers
  • A pair of snappy jawed tool, I think its called pliers or something like that
  • Notice no measuring tape (typical woman)
  • A roll of Duct tape (which no project would ever be complete without)
  • A roll of jute

The most important supply is the two crazy women that are building this mess, three dogs getting in our faces and gross quantities of Iced Tea and of course, Kristen says she simply can’t work without some beer.  So I will be the designated “haven’t got a clue, but lets dig in and see how it turns out” person.

After the windstorm and finding that the PVC rabbit hutch simply toppled over in the wind, (plus it looked like two not so bright people who are also blind built was I think we the start of the base.  But it looked so bad, one cannot even be sure of what we were thinking!)  So we gathered the remaining unused supplies of PVC stuff, returned it to Home Depot and purchased the following.

  • 30 sticks of 2″x2″ x 8′ wood
  • 4 hooks with eyes (door closures)
  • 8 hinges
  • 2 pounds of outdoor screws (Can’t nail a straight to save my life so I always work with screws)
  • 1 pound of nails (ugh)

By 10am, the project looked like this:

Base of the rabbit hutch

Base of the new rabbit hutch

What we did was build the four sides and braced them so they had support every 2 feet or so.  Then we put a brace on the part of the cage that will rest on the ground.  To this we added the base of the cage where the bunnies will call their floor.  It is made of a smaller hole galvanized hardware cloth.  This is just large enough for the rabbit poo to drop below their cage so they don’t stand in their wastes and provide the greatest comfort on their feet at the same time.  Notice we also divided the depth of the cage in two and placed cross bracers to help keep the hardware cloth from sagging in the middle.  Cutting the hardware cloth wasn’t very hard (in the beginning).  We made the cage 35″ deep as the hardware cloth I had laying around was 36″, this gave me a half-inch on both sides to wrap down, making sure the bunnies don’t get hurt by the edges somehow.

That is our small water feature you see in the background.  The dogs love to drink from it and play in it when they get hot.  I built the filtration system for it myself, I simply took a large decorative, pedestal type planter, drilled a hole in the base where I pass the tube from the water pump through.  I then fill the planter portion with two bags of lava stone each year.  I use the old lava stone around the pond to help control the weeds and mud from the dogs playing in it.  The whole pond is about 1,000 gallons, and I purchased an overkill pump which is for waterfalls at a rate of 1,700 gph (gallons per hour).  Once per week I drain the pond and water the lawn with the water, refill it and the dogs once again have fresh water to drink and play.  The tube that feeds the planter only goes about 2 inches into the lava rock.  This is because I want the lava rock to filter the water, so the pump fills from the base and the water simply spills over the sides of the planter.  This not only filters the water, but also aerates it.  At one time I had Koi in this pond, but our Weimaraner decided it was great sport to catch them.  unfortunately he doesn’t believe in catch and release, he believes in catch and munch.  So now, sometimes I toss in a few goldfish, but I know they will simply make a snack for our Weimaraner.  I had to turn this pump off because with all that water hitting the surface, it makes it hard for my husband to hear me speak.

Okay, back to the rabbit hutch.  Due to the wood being eight feet, unlike the PVC which was ten feet, we have made it only with 4 holes.  I know we have provided them with more room than most do, but its the smallest I care to go.  So each “hole” will house one rabbit.  Each hole is 35″ deep, 27″ tall, 2′ wide.  This way we were able to use our wood with very little wasted material.  It also allows us to build two levels in their hole so that they can have more space to live and play.

The main shell of the rabbit hutch

The main shell of the rabbit hutch

Things are progressing, we at last have the main body in place.  Time to turn this into the hutch.  That BBQ grill is looking real good right now.  Even though I hate to say it, all that cutting of each and every square in the hardware mesh is starting to take its toll.  Not only are my wire snips starting to get dull, but my hands are all cut up and bloody.  However, the building of the hutch must go on.  On a side and rather personal note.  I must provide shelter for my rabbits as they have been in a large dog kennel (for our 180 pound dogs) since they were purchased.  I know they really need this house but I am in so much pain.  Evidently mother nature wanted to give me what I think is kidney stones.  So I have been drinking so many fluids to help me pass them, but all I can do is dribble a little.  It has been over 36 hours now since I was able to take a good pee.  My bladder is so full every movement puts me into excruciating pain.  However, since kidney stones are more painful and a nuisance, they don’t really require medical attention unless it gets really bad.  I checked with medpub and it says if it lasts a week or so, then I need to go in. (Don’t take that last comment as medical advice!)   As I have no fever, I have decided to continue plugging away at this hutch, working through the pain.  We consider that staple gun to be a wonderful blessing and piece of equipment in a shop.  It makes working with the hardware mesh a simple task.

The bunnies checking out their new rabbit hutch

The bunnies checking out their new rabbit hutch

With three sides now on the hutch, my husband is on his way back to Home Depot (what project would ever be complete without several trips back to the building supply store?)  Originally we had only purchased 20 sticks of wood and realized that it would take 10 more sticks of wood to complete.  The black carpet was the rubberized, $3 bucks each variety for wiping your feet off of.  Rabbits will chew on the wood and everything else in their cage, but also need an area in which to get their feet off the hardware mesh to prevent sore feet.  The little pads are cheap, remove easily for cleaning and give them a place to rest on a smooth surface.  By the time this little project is done, they will have wooden boxes over these pads and will be able to rest comfortable inside the box or on top of them.  This will give them a little more room in which to play.  The back panel (side with no doors) I screened with chicken wire that I found in the shed.  Also a big bonus find, behind the roll of chicken wire I found a large shade cloth.  Don’t remember what hair brained idea I needed that greenhouse shade cloth for, but it will now be placed across the back for additional shade for the rabbits.  Have I mentioned how I am beginning to loath cutting all this wire?  Then the tedious task of bending all the cut ends with needle nose pliers so that it is safe when walking around the hutch for us.  I really don’t want to have to worry about snagging my clothing or my skin on the cut ends.  After I have twisted the cut ends so they aren’t exposed, I knock them flat with a hammer for even more security.

Building a rabbit hutch with a flashlight

Building a rabbit hutch with a flashlight

We began racing with mother nature, the goal was to have the cage doors (front of the hutch) and the roof finished before we lost daylight.  Well, as you can see, we didn’t make it and the last hour of building the hutch was done with a flashlight held firmly in my teeth.  The roof was simply laid over the top of the rabbit hutch and is not secured.  While we have a motion detector flood light, the railing on the deck is so tall that the light gets caught before it arrives to the lower porch where we are working.  Also, will have to make yet another trip to Home Depot.  We purchased a package of hooks and eyes.  It didn’t state how many hooks and eyes were it in, we hoped four, but it only contained 3, so we need 1 more set of hook and eye to close the 4th door.  We worked on this thing for 14 hours now and it is not finished, but we are tired, it’s not easy working with small details like the hardware cloth and staple gun in the dark so we are calling it done for the night.

Installing the rabbit hutch roof

Installing the rabbit hutch roof

Night has given way to a beautiful day.  The clouds and break in the sunlight should be nice while the rabbit hutch is being worked on.  The galvanized roofing makes the top super easy.  While it comes in many colors, I didn’t feel the need for the paint, plain ole galvanized works fine for me.  Besides, we will not be staining the wood because the rabbits will chew on it.  Because they will chew on it, when it is time to dismantle the rabbit hutch, the wood will be run through the wood chipper and turned into mulch around the yard.  Some might say “it will last longer if you seal and stain it”.  All I have to say is stained or not, the rabbits will chew on the wood, it is what they do!  So why bother?  They don’t need any more chemicals than what is already in the wood 🙂 .  Anyhow, we installed the roofing with lath screws.  Pretty much a lath screw has an extra ring around the head which acts sort of like a washer would, only it is a part of the screw, so you have one less step and far less hassle than you would working with a screw and washer.  To make it easier, we measured and marked where each cross brace was placed to support the roof, then drilled a hole through the metal and into the wood to make it easier to put the screws in.  It made a quick job of the roof and went up without a hitch.  The rabbits are finally in their own sections, I feel kind of bad because they were so cute snuggled up when they had the whole cage to themselves.

For the dividers between each cage, we used some left over wood we had from building the chicken coop.  We left an inch or so at the top of each divider to allow the wind to cross ventilate from end to end.  Though I doubt this is needed as both front and back are wire mesh.  To give something solid to install the dividers with, we built frames from the 2″x2″ wood and simply screwed it into the frames once they were in place.  At first, both rabbits were fixated on the wall between them, standing up tall and scratching for each other.  After about an hour they settled right into their new homes and accommodations like they were born to it.

Finally the rabbit hutch is finished

Finally the rabbit hutch is finished

Installed the shade cloth on the sides and all across the back, even though the rabbit hutch will be placed up against the storage shed.  Picked up and moved the whole rabbit hutch from where we built it to its final resting place.  Spent the next 30 minutes fiddling with the sprinkler heads so that they don’t hit the rabbit hutch.  Gary has dubbed the rabbits “Jack and Jill”, without his building skills none of this project would have been possible, so I have allowed the names to stick.

Having banged my head 3 or 4 times now on that raw edged galvanized roofing metal, I have realized that I will split my head wide open on it.  I don’t know how I will do it, but I must cover those edges to make them safer to be around.  I am thinking that foam they make for insulating pipes or a swimming pool noodle.  Something easy and adhere it with metal glue.  Must do this soon however as I am tired of banging my head, the rabbit hutch is right at a level where I keep doing this!

The boxes for inside still need to be built and placed inside each hole of the hutch, but not today, thunder and lightning has arrived and we are all really tired.  I hope you have enjoyed our journey in making the four hole rabbit hutch.

Tanzen wants to play fetch with a tree

Tanzen wants to play fetch

Tanzen loves to play fetch, and he is a very sneaky thief when you are working on projects made of wood.  He doesn’t care if it is the size of a tree or the size of a small wooden dowel!  Because he loves so much to play fetch, he firmly believes no matter what he brings you (that is a four-foot scrap), you should be more than happy to throw it really far so he can go get it again.  Now when he takes the wood from your current project, he knows chances are you will take it from him, so he carries it off away from the project.  When he feels you didn’t need it, or have forgotten about it, he will bring it to you for a game of fetch.  While this is something really neat about Tanzen and a constant source of laughter and amusement…..sometimes I really needed the piece he has hidden away.

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Posted by on June 11, 2011 in The Barnyard


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