So many of you have asked for plans to our RABBIT HUTCH w/ AUTOMATIC POOP COLLECTOR. Finally, we have had the time to answer your requests. With some minor repairs needed and a timely “vacancy,” we decided to take the left half of our hutches apart and REPAIR, UPGRADE, and DOCUMENT a HOW-TO with lots of pictures and step by step directions. Hopefully, this will answer any questions you might have, but if not please don’t hesitate to ask and we can walk you through the process. This project is 2 identical hutches placed side-by-side with a common roof. The hutches house a total of 4 rabbits (2 per hutch).
First, we started with building the base or sub-floor out of 2×4’s. As you can see in the pictures we have written the dimensions of each piece in order to make the building process much easier and understandable. The rabbit “DEN” was given cross members in the sub-floor that only measured 3″ tall. This was to allow the 1/2″ plywood floor to sit flush. Over time the rabbits urine and poop in the den will rot away the floor so we included these easily removable floors to make our life a little bit easier down the road. After the sub-floor framing was done, it was time to cut out the 1/2″ x 1/2″ wire mesh that came in a roll 24″ wide. Originally, we built the hutch with 1″ x 1″ wire mesh because it was all we had at the time. However, this 1″ x 1″ mesh can be hard on the rabbits feet. It also has large enough openings for a baby to squeeze through. Using a simple construction stapler and a pair of wire cutters, the wire mesh floors were complete.
Next, we flipped the sub-floor upside down to install the legs. We cut the 4×4 wooden legs to 36″ in length. The legs were screwed in place with 3″ screws. With 2 members of the family being under 5′ tall it was important to keep the hutch at a height that was manageable for everyone in the family. (It’s important to know that the taller the hutch, the easier the poop will roll into your bucket.) Once the legs were firmly secure we flipped the hutch back on its feet to begin construction of the “SKELETON” or walls.
***THE BASIC SKELETON IS WHAT MAKES UP THE RABBIT HUTCH. YOU CAN ACHIEVE ANY LOOK YOU WANT BY HOW YOUR DECIDE TO COVER THE SKELETON. THIS WAY YOU CAN MAKE YOUR RABBIT HUTCH TRULY YOUR OWN AND A ONE OF A KIND***
The SKELETON is made up of 2×4’s that we cut apart to make 8′ 2×2’s. Each wall was nailed together with a framing nailer, however each wall was “SCREWED” to the sub-floor and each adjoining wall for easy removal or repair if needed. Once again, check the photos carefully as each 2×2 piece has its length written on it. We started with constructing and installing the back wall first and then built and installed the side and interior walls. Finally, we finished with the front walls and roof supports. This completes the structural interior skeleton of the hutch.
Next it was time to add some plywood walls to separate the den from the eating area and a center wall was added to create the 2 different living areas.
The plywood roof was added next, and covered with tar paper which was stapled down. We gave the hutches a tin roof. However, you can only see it on the final product because the 2 hutches share the same roof. The roof can only be installed once the hutches are in their final location to insure the roof is straight and square. To avoid any cuts from the roof edge a 2×4 was notched out and laid over the edge of the roof, thus covering any sharp edges.
After the roof was installed as much as it could be, we started the siding. We used 1″ decking material to give the hutches a “CABIN” look and feel. Being new to Missouri when we originally built the hutches, we had no idea how “truly cold” it got here so we wanted thick walls to keep the cold out, warmth in, and also to protect the rabbits from predators. Because the weather “normally” approaches from the SW, we placed the hutches on the EAST SIDE of our shop in order to protect them from the wind and rain. Also, we wanted the rabbits to get the direct morning sun during the winter and shade after noon during the HOT, HOT, SUMMER.
Finally it was time to build the doors for each den and install them. We used the same 1″ decking wood and connected them with 2 strips of wood on the inside of the door that opens downward by use of a typical interior door hinge you would find in your home. These were re-used from our house as we switched them out with nickel hinges. Two thin decorative strips ( the by-product of ripping a 2×4 apart to make 2 qty 2″x2″s) of wood were nailed into place using a finishing nailer and is purely decorative.
Now that the hutch is finished, it will be moved into its final resting place. There are several ways to install the hutch. We buried the legs of ours into the ground to keep them from blowing over in the wind or a predator pulling it over. Another way, would be to put “SKIS” on the bottom of the 4×4 legs. This will give the hutch a wider base and a lower center of gravity. This newly remodeled hutch will get some SKIS. We will then move our 2 rabbits into the new hutch while we remodel the right side. At that point, they will both be installed into a permanent location.
AND FINALLY FOR THE BEST PART….. THE POOP SHOOT!!!
Only when the hutch, or hutches are in there final resting place would I install the AUTOMATIC POOP COLLECTOR. You want to be able to make sure that the poop ramps are both at the same angle should you choose to make 2 hutches. And there are just too many variables to take into consideration when installing it. This is why is just best to wait and install it last. The last thing that you want to do is to take apart your hutch to because something doesn’t fit. By waiting you save yourself time and effort.
The poop ramps were originally made from plywood which we painted with a rubber based paint. However, after a year the paint began to break down and prohibited the poop from rolling completely into the bucket. Once the paint broke down, then the plywood began to rot. Ideally, I would like to use a sheet of aluminum to avoid rust and corrosion. Sheet metal would work, but I would recommend painting it well, as rabbit urine has a very high acidic value to it. One option we have for the ramps is to staple “SCREEN DOOR” mesh to the 2×4 ramp frame. This will allow the poop to roll into the bucket while allowing the acidic urine to fall straight through. Of course plastic sheets or acrylic sheets will also work great with our humidity. Whatever we decide to use, I’m sure we will make it work.
We hope this helps you in your quest to build your own rabbit hutch. Don’t forget to ask us if you have any questions about this project or any other. We are here to help anyway we can. Thanks again and HAPPY HOMESTEADING.