You have the possibility to make your rabbit live outside but you find yourself confronted with the puzzle of choosing the hutch. We explain to you what are the criteria to take into account so that you find the right compromise between the needs of your rabbit and your budget.
Rabbit life outdoors
All rabbits tolerate outdoor life very well, and that’s what they actually prefer. It is important to know that they are more sensitive to high temperatures than to low temperatures. Adult rabbits tolerate cold temperatures down to -10 ° C very well.
Obviously, the rabbit will endure it all the better if he has already spent time outdoors during the preceding seasons. There is no question of suddenly putting the rabbit outside at the risk of subjecting it to a real thermal shock, having not developed its winter coat indoors.
Concerning weaker individuals due to their young age, or on the contrary to their advanced age, or even an illness, it is preferable to place them in a slightly more protected place, such as a garden shed or a garage. It is in any case out of the question to alternate indoors and outdoors: hot and cold are the worst for a rabbit’s health. And if he has his winter coat, he will be way too warm inside.
Finally, outdoors, it is imperative that the enclosure accommodates at least two rabbits. If they need to, they can keep each other warm. Obviously, two rabbits is only a minimum. They will thrive much better if they are more because they are very social animals. Remember not to mix the sexes in the same hutch, except during breeding time. And during gestation, females should be isolated.
If the rabbits do not have access to an exit area, it is good for them that the hutches are arranged in such a way that the rabbits have olfactory and auditory contact with each other.
Rabbit enclosure and hutch
Rabbits need an enclosure that offers them space to take shelter but also to occupy themselves. The minimum space they need varies according to your reception possibilities. It goes without saying that offering them more than the minimum, if you have a substantial surface area, will only be better for the animals. 2 square meters per rabbit is a bare minimum. Inside the enclosure, you have the hutches. It can be on top of each other if you have limited floor space. If you cannot offer them a pen in the strict sense of the word, then you will ensure that the hutch has a exit area.
The functions of the rabbit hutch
The hutch protects your rabbit:
- bad weather,
- the wind,
It must be a safe place, with no security holes through which ingenious predators can infiltrate.
We have mentioned the great sensitivity of rabbits to heat. They also hate drafts. It’s simple, in the wild, rabbits inhabit a burrow that guarantees a constant temperature all year round and cuts them off from any draft. The hutch must come closer to this protective cocoon. You understand why a space completely covered is the most suitable. A sufficient height will ensure the necessary air circulation in summer. Do not allow the hutch to be exposed to direct sunlight in summer.
The dimensions of the rabbit hutch
The hutch should be large enough for the rabbit to move around. The hutch representing a non-negligible cost, it is necessary to provide dimensions adapted to the final dimensions of the rabbit.
Whatever the breed of rabbit (dwarf or not), plan for a minimum interior height of 70 cm.
For some dwarf rabbits, the minimum area of a hutch without an exit area is estimated at 0.34 square meters for one or two rabbits, that is, for example, 68 cm long by 50 cm wide. For an adult size rabbit average, plan at least 75 cm long by 80 cm wide. For a rabbit from big size, the cage should be at least three feet long and wide.
What material for the hutch?
Stability and solidity are qualities that should guide your choice. Considering the exposure to inclement weather, a good initial investment is the best choice, especially since a rabbit can live 10 to 15 years. Ease of maintenance is also important: the shape of the hutch should be simple.
If it is possible to build a hutch with bricks, stones, cement, fiber cement slabs, wood remains the material to be preferred, even if your lagomorph may be tempted to cut its teeth there. But the problem should be evacuated if you give it enough hay.
Wood is rather economical and guarantees the comfort of the rabbit, provided that the design ensures that there is no drafts. Fiber cement can be a good second choice because it allows you to design removable and extendable hutches. Brick and cement tend to store heat, especially when exposed to direct sunlight (which should be avoided). In winter, these materials do not provide good circulation of water vapor and condensation can line the walls, transforming the hutch into a cooler.
Depending on your manual skill, wood also gives you the option of building a bespoke hutch, while you’ll be forced to turn to a ready-made fiber cement hutch.
Price of a rabbit hutch
A quality hutch usually costs between 100 and 200 €.
The price obviously varies depending on the amount of material used. But the larger the hutch, the more rabbits it can also accommodate. Pay attention to the dimensions we have indicated above.
The price also varies depending on the quality of the material used. Don’t be distracted by superfluous decorative elements to focus on the quality of the wood: the more resistant it is, the longer it will withstand bad weather and keep a beautiful appearance over time.
Douglas is a good choice because it is a wood that hardens with age. This makes it naturally resistant to external aggressions, including attacks by wood-eating fungi and xylophagous insects. This is an important criterion since the rabbit is likely to gnaw the walls. It is therefore preferable not to apply chemical treatment to wood, or only to exterior surfaces.