Buying the Best Rabbit Cages or Rabbit Hutches
There are a few basic questions you need to ask yourself before purchasing rabbit cages or rabbit hutches:
- Will this be used indoors or outdoors? Will the it be used in a house or an enclosed barn?
- How many rabbits do you need to house?
- How big is your rabbit?
- What type of flooring does your rabbit require?
- How stable or sturdy are the rabbit cages or rabbit hutches you are considering?
- Will the rabbit cages or rabbit hutches you’re considering stand the test of time – of pet urine, or rain, sleet, snow, wind, hail, and heat?
- Will the rabbit cages or rabbit hutches offer the rabbit plenty of protection if an animal attacks the cage?
Indoor or Outdoor Use
The major question you need to answer before you buy a rabbit is whether or not it will be kept in the house, an outside building without air or heat, or will it be kept outside.
Rabbit cages come in three different types of cages:
- Indoor single cages with a tray
- Stackable cages
- Hanging cages
Typically, stackable cages are used by breeders when they have multiple rabbits and want to efficiently use the space they have available. Stackable rabbit cages have a metal pan underneath them that catch the poop and urine of the rabbits, thus making cleaning of the cages much easier. These cages must be used either inside a house or in an enclosed barn because they provide no enclosed area of protection for the rabbit should the cage be attacked by an animal.
Hanging cages are also used by breeders who have multiple rabbits, and are most often used in barns. Often water systems will be interconnected with hanging rabbit cages, and the tray system underneath them will also allow for faster cleaning as well with a big water house and scrub brush.
Both stackable and hanging cages come in all sizes, and can house typically only one rabbit at a time.
Indoor cages come in single and two-story cages that allow the rabbit to be kept inside your house. These cages come with either a solid bottom that must be cleaned out a couple of times a week, or they have a tray underneath them that can be pulled out and cleaned so that the entire cage doesn’t have to be cleaned out constantly.
Indoor rabbit cages also come in two-story sizes that allow the rabbit to run up and down a ramp, thus providing it with more exercise.
Indoor rabbit cages typically do not have any type of enclosed area that will protect your rabbit from animal attacks.
Rabbit hutches are used for rabbits that will be kept outside. Depending on the sturdiness of the rabbit hutch, some people keep them on their back porch to avoid the wind blowing them over, and the more sturdy ones can be kept out in the yard. Rabbit hutches are typically larger than cages and allow your rabbit more freedom to run around and exercise. They also have protected cubby hole areas that allow the rabbit to get away from animals.
Number of Rabbits
Indoor rabbit cages, stackable and hanging cages, and rabbit hutches will typically only hold a mom and her babies or one adult rabbit. It is not a good idea to house rabbits together once they reach adulthood, as they will either try to dominate the other one by humping them or they will bite each other and pull each others fur, sometimes to the death of one of them.
Stackable and Hanging cages are the best rabbit cages to own if you have more than one rabbit.
Indoor rabbit cages are best if you only own one rabbit.
Rabbit hutches, depending upon the design can be used for either one rabbit or multiple rabbits.
Size of Your Rabbit
Rabbit cages come in multiple sizes. It is important that you look up the grown length, height, and weight of your breed of rabbit BEFORE you buy a cage. Some rabbit breeds weigh no more than a pound or two when grown, while rabbits such as the Standard Rex can weigh more than 10 lbs and Flemish Giants can weigh over 20 lbs.
Make sure that the length and height of your cage will allow the rabbit ample room to stretch out, turn around, and hop back and forth a few times without banging it’s head on a wall or top of the cage.
Size/Type of Flooring Required for Your Rabbit
The larger rabbits MUST HAVE sturdy wire on the floor that is 1/2″ by 1 inch. DO NOT put Mesh Garden Cloth or Hardware Cloth on the floor of a rabbit cage or hutch. EVER. This is a very thin wire that can cut their feet, cause sore hocks, and that will not stand up to their weight over time. Your best bet for almost all rabbits is the 1/2″ by 1 inch size.
For the walls of your rabbit hutch, your rabbit will be happier with a wire size that will enable it to see out well, but it is not as important as the size of the flooring.
We always cut one or two 1 X 12 boards that we place in all of our rabbit hutches for them to use as a resting board. They LOVE THEM! They love to sit on them or sleep on them. They will very rarely rest on the wire portion of their cages.
Stability and Sturdiness of the Rabbit Cages or Rabbit Hutches
If you are buying rabbit cages or rabbit hutches online or at the store, make sure that you look at the weight or the cage or hutch, the height and width of it, and the reviewers comments.
Rabbit hutches that don’t weigh a lot will need to be placed up against a wall so that the wind doesn’t blow it over.
If you’re building your own rabbit cages or rabbit hutches, keep in mind that the more it weighs and the wider the base, the more stable it will be in not blowing over.
If it has legs that can be partially buried into the ground, this will make a rabbit hutch even more sturdy.
Rabbit cages should have good, solid wire gauges that will stand up to the rabbits leaning against the cage, pushing on it, biting it, and that will not make them develop sore hocks. I prefer 14-gauge or 16-gauge wire size, and will not ever using anything smaller than this gauge. Any larger than this can become very difficult to cut if you are designing your own rabbit cages or rabbit hutches.
Weathering the Elements
One of the problems that I frequently see with rabbit hutches are that the flooring of the cage is basically thin particle board. Just know when you buy this that you will end up replacing the flooring with plywood within the year.
You can buy ceramic tiles and place over the top of the particle board to help keep the urine on top of the tile and make it easier to clean, but urine will still seep down onto the particle board and will disintegrate the board.
One problem that I made early on with our rabbits is buying cheap, linoleum tiles at the hardware store and putting these into our rabbit hutches. The rabbits will chew on this, and it will cause blockages in their stomachs that will kill them. Don’t do this. We are lucky that we didn’t lose any of our rabbits, but once I noticed that they were chewing on them, I immediately removed all of them.
If your rabbit hutch isn’t painted, you should stain it at the very least to help it hold up longer to the heat, cold, and rain/snow. Keep in mind that you NEVER paint the inside of a cage.
Rabbits will chew on anything wood on the rabbit hutch, so you don’t want it ingesting paint.
You should also make sure that the rabbit hutches provide a protected area for your rabbit to get out of the wind, rain, snow, hail, sleet, etc. A cold, wet rabbit will die. A dry, cold rabbit will thrive. Rabbits love cold weather, but they cannot be kept out in an area where they will be wet. You can also buy tarps and hang over your rabbit hutches to give them even more protection.
Our rabbit hutches are pretty fancy. My husband built plywood doors that can be raised and lowered via a hinge to close of the cages entirely during bad weather.
You also want to make sure that your rabbit hutches are placed in the shade. Rabbits don’t do well in heat. In fact, ours are resting next to frozen pop bottles most of the summer just trying to stay cool enough to stay alive.
Your rabbit cages or rabbit hutches must also be well-ventilated. Make sure that they are located in an area that gets good breezes to keep the smell of urine down and to keep them cool in the summer. Also make sure that the rabbit hutch is designed so that air can actually circulate through it.
Protection from Animal Attacks
If your rabbit hutch will be kept in an area that is not fenced, you’ll need to make sure that you either design a hutch yourself or buy one that is at least 3 feet off of the ground so that animals cannot get to them such as coyotes, bobcats, raccoons, etc.
Many of the rabbit hutch designs that are sold online or in stores are built for rabbit owners with an enclosed backyard where wild animals are not a threat. These rabbit hutches are only about 12 inches off of the ground.
I hope this gives you some things to consider when buying your rabbit cages or rabbit hutches. Be sure to check out some of our recommended rabbit cages and rabbit hutches that you might want to buy for your rabbits. We also will have rabbit cage and rabbit hutch designs available for sale soon.