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Old 08-12-2017, 01:55 AM   #1
Join Date: Aug 2017
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Default First rabbits and need some help

I recently ended up with six rabbits and may have twelve more to bunny sit over the winter.

These are 3/4 Flemish giant cross.

So far I think I have most of their requirements met but I want/have to build a hutch/play area for them for the winter.

The problem I'm running into is this... most info out there seems geared for house bunnies, the rest of the info is for commercial meat bunnies and these aren't either lol.

These are pets, but outdoor.

The winter temps here get -25 on average to -40

There are wild rabbits here as well.

I'm getting a HUGE mix of information from locals with rabbits.

One says they don't need insulation in the winter.
Another says 2x6 with pink household insulation and a heat lamp.
Another says just give them a pile of square hay bales and they'll be fine.
One says heated wood hutch.
Another says 100% wire or steel hutch in a barn...

See the problem here?

So I'll give you my plan so far and ask again few questions.
Winter is quickly approching and I don't have long to get this built.

I plan to build a basic wooden rabbit hutch... divided into compartments.
Each compartment is for two rabbits.
The size of each compartment is 2.5' x 3'.
A slanted/hinged roof for access.
A pull out tray floor for cleaning.
One foot off the ground with the ground level surrounded by weld wire.
A 6x10 play pen.
Separate compartments and play area for the males.
I have 250 watt red heat lamps for the compartments.

Ill draw up a plan and try to post that as well.

My first question is... exactly what temperature is the winter range for rabbits?
So I know what to aim for in the hutch.

How do you keep it warm and ventilated at the same time?

Lamp placement?

Where does the bedding go and the food hay?

I see most of these hutches are divided into a nest box area and an area with a wire screen... does I think have to be designed like this, or can it be one enclosed box to maintain the heat?

I could line the interior with sheet metal... to keep them from chewing it, and to keep the wood from rotting... is this necessary?
Or can I get away with just wood?

For two big rabbits is 2.5x3 enough in the hutch. Considering they will have a big play pen area.

Ive heard the three hop and 2x3 times the length rule. But nothing I've seen fits those rules. Some are just slightly larger than the buns, others are the size of a house bedroom for one...

Atm I'm thinking of building this hutch from 2x2 with 1/4 ply or Osb.
Using insulative foam board as insulation.

If between the foam board, straw bedding, and heat lamps it's still too cool I'm thinking of stacking straw bales around the exterior walls.

Yep electrical will be bunny proofed.

The person I got them from said they wintered in a wooden hutch, no heat and survived the winter.

Honestly I don't see how... at the low temps we get. But hey... they seem to have survived. So idk...

The info I'm getting is really all over the map.


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Old 11-19-2017, 08:45 PM   #2
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Lot's of straw and hay. Should be warm in there, but not too warm. Boys should not be able to be together. Something in a shed or barn would probably work best, because that way it would be shielded from wind and snow. Metal on the outside may be good, but on the inside it would conduct the cold air.
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Old 11-19-2017, 10:08 PM   #3
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Wow. You are getting info all over the place. Let's start with some basics. (perhaps you can fill in some details as well)

For starters, rabbits cannot be housed together unless they have been fixed and gone through a bonding process. Pairs work best, but there are no guarantees that any two individual rabbits will actually get along. Intact rabbits do not get along and any fights can cause serious injury or death. The only time multiple rabbits get along is before their hormones have kicked in. Are the rabbits you have now all young?

Occasionally one may have success with a group bonding, but that is not the norm. So let's say you have each rabbit in an individual cage (or grouped in bonded pairs). The play area will have to be utilized just one rabbit (or one pair) at a time or they will fight over the territory. This may not be so practical if you intended this one play area for all of them. That would require much effort on your part to designate time blocks for each rabbit to make use of the one play area. You'd be spending all day rotating them in and out of the play area.

Your other option would be to create individual attached runs for each cage. That way each rabbit (or bonded pair) would have permanent access to an individual larger play/exercise area. In that case, hutch size isn't all that critical since they have constant access to their run. If the run is not attached and they are not getting several hours daily outside the hutch, then that 2.5 x 3' hutch size is woefully, sadly small for even one rabbit-- especially one that is part Flemish Giant. That allows just one hop across. Far too small for one rabbit.

Pull out trays imply wired flooring. Wired flooring really is not ideal for rabbits. They need to have a solid platform for lounging (which would defeat the purpose of the wire floor). Rabbits litter train so, so easily and that makes it much easier to clean their cages. That wire flooring also allows cold temperature up through the floor.

I'll attach two link that should help demonstrate what is appropriate and what is inappropriate housing for rabbits. The first shows good outdoor housing (some indoor is mixed in there too). The second shows examples of what to avoid. Scroll down. You may be surprised at what is discouraged in that second link.



The major concern I see with any of this is the idea that rabbits can be randomly paired off. They just can't. Are any of these rabbits fixed?

Not sure what you will do with another dozen rabbits and how they will be housed and exercised.

The whole scenario may need to be re-thought. I know rabbits can handle cold fairly well. But just how cold... not sure on that as I've always housed indoors. Have these rabbits always been housed outdoors? If not, then they cannot be housed outdoors until Springtime because they will not have grown a winter coat. But before figuring out how to keep them sufficiently warm, it needs to be determined whether they can go out (if they have been housed outdoors all along) and then whether they will each get their own cage and whether each cage will have its own attached run. There are many decisions that need to be made before worrying about how to keep them warm.

Last edited by Blue eyes; 11-19-2017 at 10:12 PM.
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