Rabbits and Guinea Pigs have long been a favourite furry pet with children and adults alike.  If you are thinking of buying one (or two) you need to ensure you provide them with secure housing that will keep them safe from both the weather and predators, including cats and dogs.

The following step-by-step guide is a great way to build a basic home for a bunny or guinea pig.  You will need to work out the size of the hutch based on the number of animals you are planning to house in it.  Remember it should be roughly four times the size of your pet.  This needs to be multiplied by the number of intended pets.  The rabbits or guinea pigs also need to be able to stand on their hind legs in the space.

Please note this hutch is on wooden legs, as opposed to a hutch that sits on the ground.

Materials you will require:
•    2 large pieces of plywood, plus one smaller piece for a divider
•    Wire mesh (14 or 16-guage galvanized)
•    Roofing materials (shingles, plastic or metal)
•    2 drop trays
•    2”x4” timber
•    C-rings, nails
•    4 metal L brackets
•    Door latch
•    Plastic trim

Step one: making the cage

The cage is made from two types of mesh.  Ensure you purchase mesh which is sturdy and preferably made specially for rabbit hutches.  Chicken wire will not work as it is too flimsy and predators can break it.  The mesh for the top and sides should be 1”x2” or 1”x1”, but the floor wire should be around ½”x1” as this will support the rabbit’s feet.

Cut the mesh for the top and sides into six rectangles, based on the size of the hutch you are building. For example, if you are building a cage that was 24”x48’ you will cut 4 pieces at 48” and 2 pieces at 24”.  Also cut a floor piece out of your tighter mesh, with a size that is equal to the longer pieces of mesh that will be used for the top of the hutch.
Now attach the two smaller pieces of mesh to one of the longer pieces using some of your c-rings.  This creates the back and sides of the cage.  Then attach the floor piece of mesh, again with c-rings.  Remember to add it several inches from the bottom as you require room for the drop-tray.

The mesh at the front of the cage can now be added, using c-rings, leaving you with a rectangle cage which is minus the top. The cage is divided into two parts, using a small piece of plywood with a ‘doorway’ cut into it. The piece of wood will also need holes in it where it will be attached to the mesh.  Ensure the plywood is cut so it fits across the width of the cage, with the doorway big enough for your pet to easily move from one part of the cage to the other. You can use more c-rings to attach the divider to the cage.

The next step is to create the space for the drop trays.  These are not necessary for the hutch, but they do make it easier for cleaning up after your pets.  The trays sit under the base of the cage and catches all the droppings and food which falls through the mesh floor.  Use the final piece of mesh to create a space between it and the cage floor.  The drop trays should slot easily between the two pieces of mesh.

The final step for the cage is adding a door so you can get the animals in and out. Select the half you want the door on and use wire cutters to cut a hole out of the mesh. Cover the exposed edges with plastic trim.  Using your leftover mesh, cut a new piece which is slightly larger than the door space – this is the door flap.  Attach it to the cage using c-rings and install a latch, ensuring the door closes completely and cannot blow open.

The cage part is now complete!

Step two – creating the wooden structure.  

You need to construct a wooden box that fits around the cage.  Cut some of the 2×4 into 4 long pieces and 8 short pieces.  These form a cube, which the cage sits in.  Use a hammer and nails to attach the pieces of wood to each other. Attach your 4 metal L brackets to the inside bottom corners of the box – this will support the cage when it is placed in the structure.

Create legs for the structure by cutting your remaining 2×4 into 4 equal lengths.  Nail a leg to each corner of the structure, ensuring they are nailed at both the top and bottom of each corner to add stability to the hutch.
Slip the cage into the structure, and nail it in place.

Step three – adding a roof and wooden sides

Wooden sides add extra protection for the rabbits and guinea pigs.  Cut pieces of plywood to fit the sides and back of the hutch.  Nail these in place – alternatively, you can use hinges so the flaps can be lifted to provide extra ventilation.
The roof is created with a final piece of plywood which is nailed securely to the top of the wooden frame.   Add your choice of roofing material (shingle, metal or plastic) for a final layer of protection.

Step four – final preparation.

Select a place for your hutch which is shady and in sight of your house so you can keep a close eye on the animals.  Add straw/hay for bedding, a drinking bottle, litter box and food containers and you have the perfect new home for a bunny or guinea pig!

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