8 Best Rabbit Hutches | December 2016
- shingles are water-resistant
- designed to stay ventilated
- wood panels are too thin
|Rating||4.1 / 5.0|
- pre-drilled holes for quick assembly
- accessible nesting area
- small compared to other models
|Rating||3.8 / 5.0|
- 36 inches in height
- rustic auburn and white coloring
- fairly involved assembly is required
|Rating||4.4 / 5.0|
- 45 inches in length
- simple to set up
- stands up well to weather
|Rating||4.1 / 5.0|
- decorative window detail
- two-story design
- attic level for storage
|Rating||4.5 / 5.0|
- small ramp for entry to nesting area
- thirty-two inches tall
- made from sustainable materials
|Rating||4.7 / 5.0|
- safe nonslip ramp
- assembly tools included
- turns natural grass into play area
|Rating||4.8 / 5.0|
- also suitable for guinea pigs
- paint is waterproof
- appearance mimics rustic cabin
|Rating||4.7 / 5.0|
A Home For Furry Friends: The Rabbit Hutch
Rabbits are one of the most popular pets in America for good reason: they are charming, loving little animals that can be surprisingly self sufficient and easy to take care of. Once you take the time to establish a proper living arrangement for your rabbit (or rabbits), the animals can largely take care of themselves; so long as you provide fresh food and water as needed, remove their droppings periodically, and ensure that their accommodations continue to suit their needs as seasons and weather change.
Many people keep rabbits as indoor pets, even allowing their bunnies to freely roam about the home. While it might come as a surprise to some, rabbits can actually be trained to reliably use litter boxes. That removes one of the more common complaints people have about pets: the messes they tend to leave. Still other people prefer to let their rabbits live outdoors, an arrangement that is, after all, closer to the natural order of things. If you're going to keep rabbits living outdoors, then you need to make sure they have a cozy rabbit hutch to call home.
As long as your rabbits have a decent outdoor hutch, they should enjoy long, pleasurable lives. But what constitutes a decent hutch for one environment and/or one group of rabbits might not serve as well under other circumstances.
If you keep rabbits of both genders (and they have not been spayed or neutered) then often are the times at which you will want to keep male and female rabbits separate. This can be accomplished both with a hutch that simply has two totally separated areas, or with one that can be modified to restrict access to various areas as needed. While such arrangements might necessitate duplicate food bowls, water bottles, and litter boxes, the extra setup effort is well worth avoiding the arrival of a new generation of rabbits every few months.
On the flip side of the equation, some hutches might be designed not so much to avoid the production of young bunnies, but to assist with the comfort of older animals. A single story hutch, with an "outdoor" area (walled off by sturdy fencing, of course) and an indoor room for sleeping and rest is a good idea for aging bunnies. Going up and down ramps becomes increasingly difficult as animals age, so a one level hutch that is elevated off the ground to avoid the dampness and cold is the ideal choice.
Rabbit hutches are not all that expensive, with lower priced models available for well under one hundred dollars and more expensive hutches only costing around $250. Therefore you can likely afford to accessorize and improve any hutch you buy, and it's this customization that makes it a truly great home for your bunnies.
Keeping Rabbits Safe Year Round
As long as your rabbits have a decent outdoor hutch, one with plenty of indoor space for them to burrow down for warmth (and potentially with enough room for many bunnies to share body heat), then you likely won't need to alter their living arrangements much between the summer and the winter. That's of course impacted by how severe the winters are where you live.
If local temperatures drop dramatically, then you may need to take several steps to keep bunnies safe. This can include elevating a hutch to get it off cold, wet ground, adding tarps over the top and sides to block wind and precipitation, and using a heater if needed. You also might consider simply bringing a rabbit hutch into the home or the garage when things get too cold -- the fifteen degree Fahrenheit mark is generally considered the temperature at which bunnies need a hand.
In the summer, you need to make sure your rabbit's hutch is well ventilated, especially in the largely closed off compartments, and that they have access to an outdoor area with fresh breezes that is shaded from direct sunlight. Consider using a large drill bit to add ventilation to the hutch and then later filling the holes with cork once the weather cools again.
If you live in an area prone to visits from other critters, such as raccoons or even foxes, consider adding an additional layer of durable chicken wire, chain link, or another protective material to the exterior of the rabbit hutch, even affixing this metal barrier over wooden parts. A tenacious forager or predator can chew through many materials, getting at your rabbit's food or treating the bunny itself as a meal.
Accessory Ideas For A Rabbit Hutch
Getting a rabbit hutch alone is just the start of creating a great home for your bunnies. Next you need to fill that hutch with all the items that maximize their comfort and safety.
All rabbits should eat plenty of hay. This simple foodstuff keeps their teeth trimmed and healthy and is essential for proper Leporidae digestion and bowel function. Using a trough affixed to the wall is the best way to ensure rabbits have access to hay that will not become sodden with urine or soiled with droppings.
Also use a food tray or bowl that is fixed to the ground or wall when possible -- as anyone who knows rabbits well will attest, they often toss toys, bedding, and bowls about, potentially scattering the very food they need for nutrition.
One consideration you need to make anywhere the temperature drops below freezing is if your rabbits' water source might freeze. If so, you of course need to take steps to stop this from happening. The simplest approach is to put a heater in the hutch near the water dish or water bottle. You can also consider getting a dedicated heated water bottle that can be plugged into an outdoor outlet and that will prevent water from freezing and, thanks to a thermostatically controlled design, will also prevent the water from getting too warm.
Also don't dismiss the importance of play objects for a rabbit. A rabbit toy can be a store bought section of thick rope for chewing, a ball for batting about, or an object that squeaks when pounced upon. But many rabbits will be every bit as satisfied with a piece of cardboard tubing or an old sock tied into knots. Try stuffing an old (but clean) sock with hay to make a great rabbit toy.