A rabbit hutch is designed to keep your beloved pet bunnies safe and secure outdoors, while also providing an easy way for you to interact with them. There are many styles, sizes, and accessories to choose from, and not every one will be suitable for your needs. So, how do you choose the right rabbit hutch? This guide should help!
Why Do You Need A Hutch For Your Pet Rabbit
As prey animals, rabbits are delicate, cautious creatures. Left on their own outside they can become sick, injured, or lost. They could even be killed by predators. The rabbit hutch was designed with all these dangers in mind.
Fully enclosed, yet breathable enough to allow fresh air in, a good rabbit hutch will protect your bunnies. Predators can’t penetrate the wire mesh on a good hutch. Heat, cold, and bad weather are blocked by solid walls and ceilings in the sleeping area. Also, a hutch prevents contact between your rabbits and wild rabbits that may carry diseases and parasites.
A solid hutch encourages human interaction, too. With clever designs and easy access points, you’ll be able to play with your bunnies and clean the enclosures without any issues.
Why and When Are Hutches Better Than Cages
There are plenty of situations where an indoor rabbit cage might be a good choice, but just as many reasons why you may choose an outdoor rabbit hutch instead. If your situation is similar to any listed below, a hutch might be a better choice for you.
- If you have limited space inside your home, apartment, or room, you may not be able to fit a rabbit cage. An outdoor hutch is a good option as they come in a variety of sizes to fit into almost any spot outdoors.
- If you live with others who don’t want a rabbit inside, a hutch can provide the right environment for your pet without upsetting roommates or family members.
- If you or someone you live with is allergic to rabbits, it might be best to keep your bunny outside.
- If you want to keep a lot of rabbits, indoor cages aren’t a good option for most people. Outdoor hutches provide plenty of space for multiple rabbits without taking up precious indoor space intended for humans.
- If you’re concerned about the permanence and reliability of your rabbit’s enclosure, you may be happier with a hutch. Hutches are made to be sturdy and permanent to withstand weather and predators. Indoor cages are often made of cheaper materials and designed to be broken down and moved.
Benefits Of Hutches
Rabbit hutches come with a host of benefits you simply cannot get with indoor cages.
- Customization is important to many rabbit owners. Being able to build a hutch (or have one built) to your exact specifications is a major benefit of hutches over cages. Though some cages are somewhat modular, there is nothing better than an outdoor hutch for shape customizations.
- Expandability is another major plus for hutches. Since they’re built outdoors, there is always room for expansion—either along the ground or going up to multiple levels. Indoor cages have limitations, while outdoor hutch expansions are only limited by your imagination and budget.
- Comfort is an important aspect of hutches and one you should consider before deciding. Most hutches have flat bottoms or have been built directly on the ground. This is better for your bunny’s feet. You can also switch out the bedding and litter a bit easier in an outdoor hutch.
- Cleanliness should be a top priority. Outdoor hutches are often more sanitary and healthier for rabbits. As long as you do regular maintenance, an outdoor hutch is easier to keep clean since you can simply spray most with a hose before replacing the bedding.
Disadvantages Of Rabbit Hutches
While hutches may seem like a miracle bunny-keeping product, they do have some disadvantages to keep in mind.
- Hutches can make it hard to see your rabbits. Rabbits are shy creatures, even friendly ones that love their humans. They may be more likely to hide or spend time in their sleeping boxes in a hutch.
- They can be dark. Rabbits don’t like a lot of light because they are crepuscular creatures. That means they like to be out in mid-light conditions, such as dusk and dawn. But some hutches provide too much cover and remain a little too dark for rabbits to be comfortable.
- Weather can damage an outdoor hutch pretty quickly if the materials aren’t of high quality. This will mean a higher cost for you to maintain the hutch. More importantly, poor craftsmanship and cheap materials mean your rabbit could be in danger of exposure to the elements and predators.
- Separation from your pet rabbits may hinder your bonding process. By keeping a rabbit outdoors in a hutch, you are less likely to interact with her frequently. If the hutch is indoors, however, this is not an issue.
6 Reasons Hutches Are Better Outside
Up until now, I’ve spoken mostly of hutches being outdoors. That doesn’t mean they can only be outdoors, though. I’ve seen plenty of rabbit owners with indoor hutches, but those are far less common. Here’s why.
- Hutches are usually large. Even in the biggest houses, hutches are big, heavy, and unwieldy, making them difficult to fit inside a house or apartment.
- Hutches are hard to clean inside. Because of their size and weight, hutches are difficult to keep clean inside a home because they’re hard to move. An indoor rabbit cage can be moved away from its usual location for cleaning the home, but a hutch can weight hundreds of pounds.
- Because of the size, weight, shape, and materials used to make a hutch, they can damage floors, walls, and other parts of your home. This is especially true when moving an indoor hutch for cleaning purposes or relocation. They tend to settle in place, denting floors, increasing the chances of permanent damage once moved.
- Most hutches were designed for outdoor use. Indoor conditions may damage parts of the hutch that would have been fine outdoors. This can be from air conditioning, dehumidifiers (or humidifiers), heaters, wood stoves, or other artificial environmental enhancements.
- Some hutches can smell bad over time. While rabbits are generally clean-smelling animals, certain materials used in hutch construction can absorb water and urine. It may not smell bad at first, but over time and with lots of urine absorption, the materials could begin to stink, and it’s impossible to get it completely out.
- Certain hutch materials can be a home for bacteria dangerous to humans. This isn’t typically an issue outdoors because changing weather often kills bacteria or keeps it at a safe level. Indoors, however, is often warm and moist, giving bacteria inside hutch material a perfect place to grow.
Rabbit Breeds and Hutch Selection General Rules
When choosing a suitable hutch, you must consider the breed of your rabbit. There is no “one size fits all” rabbit hutch, so pay attention to the following rules before you drop the money on a hutch that won’t work.
Rabbits need plenty of space. Smaller rabbits will usually need less space than giant breeds, but it’s not just about size.
Active rabbits need more space than inactive breeds. Many smaller breeds are more active than bigger breeds, so they may need more space than you think.
Taller rabbits need taller hutches. Rabbits like to stand on their hind legs. If the hutch is too short, they won’t be able to stand up all the way. Be sure the hutch is tall enough for your bunny to stand up and perk her ears. Obviously, if your bunny is a lop breed, you don’t need to make room for erect ears.
Be sure the flooring is both stable and comfortable for your rabbit. Wire floors should not be too wide or they can trap smaller breeds’ feet and hurt the feet of larger breeds. Too small and feces won’t be able to fall through.
What Are Hutches Generally Made Of
Generally speaking, hutches are made of wood. This is a natural, cheap, but sturdy material that won’t hurt a rabbit should they chew on it. Avoid painted or stained woods, and don’t buy a hutch made of recycled wood from construction sites.
Some hutches are made of plastic. These are easy to clean, but they can quickly warp in hot weather or crack from extended exposure to widely varying weather patterns.
Other rabbit hutches are made of metal. These are incredibly sturdy and difficult to break. However, in hot areas, they can become dangerously hot, harming the rabbits inside.
Ideally, your rabbit hutch will be made with a variety of materials that all work together in harmony. Each material has pros and cons. Be sure to check for sharp edges, gaps or holes, and the use of harsh chemicals that can be harmful to bunnies.
Recommended Dimensions Of Pet Rabbit Hutches
Pet rabbits need a lot of room. In fact, they need more room than most people realize. Don’t make the mistake of buying a hutch that’s too small or you’ll find yourself with an extra cost of replacement or unexpected extension.
Rabbits need about 8 to 12 square feet of space inside the hutch. They also need around 24 square feet of play space. As stated above, larger or more active bunnies will require more space, so pay attention to breed specifications.
To put this into perspective, a 12 square foot hutch may be configured as 6’X2′ or 4’X3′. Match the shape of your hutch to the size of your yard for best results.
Also consider going up instead of out, adding multiple levels to add more space for your rabbit without taking up more room on the ground. You can double your rabbit’s hutch space to 24 feet by adding a second level to a 6’X2′ hutch.
What Different Designs Are Available
This is the fun part. You can start by purchasing a standard rabbit hutch, then expand and design from there. You may be able to find all kinds of shapes and sizes already made. You can also special order a hutch or build one yourself.
The most popular shape is the rectangle hutch with an upper floor for sleeping and lower floor for playing. Circular or oval hutches are another favorite because they have a unique look.
Modular hutches can be configured in nearly any combination you choose. These are especially popular for people who want to breed their rabbits. They can expand the hutch with a simple addition, divide it for pregnant and nursing rabbits, and shrink it back down when the kits go to their new homes.
Do All Hutches Have The Same Gate Sizes Or Openings
No. In fact, the door sizes can vary widely even between hutches of the same brand. Be sure to check the measurements of the doors and any openings or access points to be sure you can comfortably reach inside.
What Door Size Should I Select
Door, gate, and access point sizes should be specific to your rabbit’s breed and your needs. If you have a very large breed, for example, a small door isn’t going to cut it. Find out how big your rabbit will likely be full grown, then choose a door or opening that’s several inches wider than the rabbit.
Keep in mind that you will need to reach in to get your rabbit (or put him inside), so it’s not just the rabbit’s size that’s important. Also consider the size of your rabbit’s accessories such as toys, food and water dishes, litter box, and hide box. Without a suitably-sized opening, you’ll never be able to get them inside.
If you’re unsure, go with the biggest available door or opening size. You can also select a hutch with multiple openings of various sizes.
Where To Position Your Rabbit Hutch and Why
A rabbit hutch should be placed in the safest, most secure part of your yard. Look for a semi-shaded location. There should be some sunlight access, but never keep a hutch in direct sunlight.
The sleeping and hide portion of the hutch should be in the shade and sheltered from heavy rain, snow, or extreme weather. The outdoor, wired portion should have both shade and sun access.
For multi-level hutches, be sure the top of the hutch doesn’t go above your house, shed, or other permanent structure. Too high and the hutch can topple, be exposed to too much sun, or end up affected by severe weather.
For maximum stability, keep the hutch against or very near your house, a shed, or other permanent structure. Remember that rabbits love to chew, so don’t lean anything against the hutch that might be dangerous for your rabbit to ingest.
Is A Rabbit Hutch Waterproof
Not entirely, but some parts may be. Depending on the material used and the quality of craftsmanship, most hutches will have a waterproof sleeping and hiding area attached to an open-air section.
To keep the sleeping and hide area dry, be sure to position the hutch away from prevailing winds or any direction that rain normally comes from.
Is Cleaning Rabbit Hutch Easy
Many rabbit owners feel that hutches are easier to clean than indoor rabbit cages. This is because of their location, more than anything else. When a hutch is placed outdoors, it’s simple to just spray it down with a hose, replace the bedding, then put your bunny back.
Most hutches do not need to be moved to do a complete clean when placed outdoors. In fact, a lot of rabbit owners keep a collection bin under the hutch to catch the feces and either put it in their own gardens or give it to gardening friends.
Does A Hutch Have Solid Floor And Walls
Some do, but most have a combination of solid and wire floors. For the sleeping and hiding area, most hutches have a solid floor. This gives the rabbits a place to rest their feet. The open-air section generally has wire walls, roof, and floors to aid in cleaning.
Do Hutches Have Urine Guard
Not all hutches come with a urine guard. You can either add a urine guard yourself or select a hutch that specifically comes with one. However, unless your hutch will be right up against the house, you probably don’t need one.
A urine guard is mostly to protect the surrounding area from urine damage and smells. If your hutch is outdoors, the urine will just land on the ground.
That said, sometimes a urine guard can help prevent damage to the hutch itself. Too much urine, a lot of urine over many years, or strange habits of your rabbit can all cause urine damage to the hutch, so a urine guard could be a good option for you.
What Are Different Types Of Pet Rabbit Hutches
Rabbit hutches come in a variety of shapes, sizes, and configurations. They may come with different names, but they all fall within the following types.
Small Hutch or Temporary Hutch
A small hutch will be suitable for one rabbit and will usually only have a small hide location and small outdoor area. These are not suitable for long-term rabbit-keeping. They are often used as isolation hutches for new rabbits or those that are sick and need to be separated from the rest of the rabbits on the property.
Standard All-in-One Hutch
These are much larger than the small hutches and provide a suitable permanent home for most rabbit breeds. They have a generous sleeping and hide area attached to a larger run or play area.
Deluxe All-in-One Hutch
This is one of the most popular hutch configurations as it provides ample room for one lucky bunny or two. With a large sleeping and hide area attached to a huge run or play area, it provides the best of both worlds. Some of these models even come with multiple sleeping and hide options.
These towering hutches are built to last and provide maximum rabbit space without chewing up your yard. By adding a second or third level for your rabbit to explore, you can double or triple the vertical space without taking up more room on the ground. Multi-level hutches are much heavier and more expensive than the standard hutches, but they provide the best environment for bunnies.
The modular hutch is built with enrichment in mind. Rabbits can become bored. Providing a changing, expanding, and flexible hutch and play yard can keep a rabbit happy for years to come.
How Heavy Are Different Types Of Hutches
The weight of a hutch will depend on the materials used and the overall size of the hutch. Wooden and metal hutches tend to be quite heavy. Aluminum hutches are lighter weight, but may not be very sturdy over the long run. Plastic hutches are usually quite light, but a large plastic hutch could still weigh a few hundred pounds.
You may be able to find a hutch as light as 25 pounds, but you’re more likely to see them in the 50-pound to 100-pound range.
When I Purchase It Do I Need To Put It Together
Most hutches purchased online will need to be assembled after delivery. Hutches can be extremely difficult to handle when assembled, making transportation costs astronomical. By shipping the pieces to you instead of the assembled hutch, you are actually saving a lot of money.
You might be able to find a hutch locally that’s already put together. If so, expect to pay a little more for shipping, but that might be worth the convenience for you.
Alternatively, you can hire someone to build the hutch for you.
If you’re lucky, you might be able to find a fully-assembled hutch that can be delivered to your door. Or you may find a small one at a local farm shop that can fit into the back of a truck. It’s unlikely you’d be able to find a large, fully-assembled hutch, however.
Is A Hutch Predator-Proof
The main intention for a hutch is to keep your bunnies safe from predators. You should expect a hutch to protect your rabbits from eagles and other flying predators. You should also expect the hutch to prevent weasels, foxes, and raccoons from hurting your rabbits.
While that is the expectation, some hutches aren’t actually built to keep predators out. Be sure to ask before you purchase. Your rabbit’s life depends on it!
You can also build a hutch from scratch as these folks did. While they don’t provide direct access to grass, they are very secure up off the ground.
Are There Ways Of Improving A Hutch For Better Security
You can add extra wire mesh around a hutch to reduce the likelihood of breakage from stronger predators. You can also update or replace the latches and fasteners to ensure a sturdy enclosure.
Raise your hutch off the ground—or at least the sleeping and hiding location. This will discourage smaller, ground-dwelling predators and pests from intruding. Just be sure the wire portion of flooring is well supported.
Add hardware cloth or wire mesh to the outdoor run or play yard. This will stop digging predators from getting inside. If you want your bunnies to feel the ground, you can bury the hardware cloth a few inches down and let the grass grow over it.
Do Rabbits Feel Safe And Comfortable In The Hutch
Most rabbits are secure, confident, and comfortable in their hutches. To ensure this is the case, provide your rabbit with plenty of comfortable hiding places and protection from the elements.
How Much Does Rabbit Hutch Cost
Used rabbit hutches can be as cheap as $25 from farmer’s markets and garage sales. However, you don’t know what history that hutch has, so I’d avoid them if at all possible.
A new hutch is going to cost a pretty penny, but it’s worth the price when your rabbit’s safety is in question. Expect to spend more than $100 for a standard hutch. You could be spending a few thousand for an extra-large, luxury, multi-level hutch with custom additions.
What Else Do You Need For Your Rabbit Hutch For A Positive Environment
Aside from the hutch itself, you’ll need a variety of accessories to make your rabbit comfortable and happy.
Look for a hide box that is big enough for your bunny to lay down inside. It should have three walls, a solid floor, and a weatherproof roof.
Weatherproof food and water dishes are a must. These should also be predator-proof if they are located on the outside of the hutch.
Soft, absorbent bedding and litter should be placed at the bottom of the hutch.
Straw or other comfortable and edible bedding should go inside the hide box.
Rabbits like to play, so provide a variety of toys. Be prepared to switch them out every few weeks to keep your bunny happy.
Do Rabbits Prefer To Play In The Hutch Or Outside More
This depends on the bunny’s mood, breed, and personality. Some rabbits like to stay home and play inside the hutch. Other rabbits are excited for outside playtime with you. Just be sure to give your rabbit a choice of play areas.
Considering 2nd Rabbits Should You Buy A Bigger Hutch
Most standard hutches are designed for one rabbit. If you plan to add a second rabbit, you’ll need to expand the hutch to accommodate her needs. Remember that rabbits need about 12 square feet of space each inside the hutch and about 24 square feet of play room in the yard.
Should A Litter Box Stay Inside The Hutch
Some rabbits prefer to use a litterbox instead of relieving themselves all over the hutch. If this is the case with your Bun-Bun, keep the litter box in the hutch. If your rabbit isn’t litter trained or doesn’t seem to care, you don’t need to keep the litterbox inside the hutch or the run.
Are There Any Water Systems Built Into Hutches
Most standard hutches do not come with a water system in place. You can either add one later or you can purchase a special hutch that has a water system already installed. Be sure to check the specifications of any hutch you’re considering purchasing.
If you may wish to install a fancy water system at a later date (as opposed to a water dish or bottle), consider the material, craftsmanship, and suitability of the hutch for such an addition.
Do and Don’ts Of Buying Hutches
- Do pay attention to your rabbit’s size and activity level.
- Don’t assume your rabbit will be like every other rabbit in its breed.
- Do be prepared to upgrade or expand your hutch based on your rabbit’s needs.
- Don’t buy the cheapest hutch you can find.
- Do think about safety and function over aesthetics.
- Do check reviews before purchasing a new hutch.
- Don’t skimp on safety features.
Are There Combination Hutch and Cage Options
This answer comes down to understanding the lingo. The words “hutch” and “cage” are often interchangeable, especially since rabbit-keeping has become more popular. Officially, however, “hutch” refers to an outdoor enclosure, while “cage” was typically reserved for indoor enclosures.
During research to answer this particular question, it became clear that people have started using “cage” to refer to the play area for their rabbit and “hutch” to refer to the enclosed, solid portion. In this case, yes, there are combo hutch and cage options on the market.
No matter what you call each section of the whole thing all together, most hutches come with a hide and sleep area that’s fully enclosed, while also providing an open-air section for playtime.
What To Look For When Buying A Combination Hutch/Cage For Your Pet Rabbit
Look for a stable hutch section for sleeping and hiding. The sides should be solid with no holes or mesh. It should be fully covered with a waterproof top.
The “cage” section, or the open-air play area, should be large and spacious. It should have wire mesh sides and top with a protective bottom piece to keep predators from digging in.
Be sure there are doors and access points in both the hutch and cage sections so you can reach your rabbit easily. These also facilitate easy cleaning and sanitation.
Your rabbit hutch can come in any size, shape, configuration, or price range you choose. You have far more options in hutches than you typically do for indoor cages, so they’re worth looking into. Just be sure to follow the guidelines above to ensure your rabbit is given a suitable, secure, and comfortable home right from the start.
Is a rabbit hutch the same as a chicken hutch? Even though you often see these two items sold under one name, they are not exactly the same. Chickens and rabbits have different needs, with rabbits being more particular than chickens. You can safely use a rabbit hutch for chickens, but a hutch made specifically for chickens is not always suitable for rabbits.