Indoor rabbit hutch


Ian Gagnon
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Haven't been on the forums for a while. Work has been busy, and on top of that I was trying to get some projects around the house done before the new arrivals came home.

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My wife and I have always had rabbits as pets. They live in the house with us, are litter box trained and when raised well have a personality that lies somewhere between a dog and a cat. Absolutely hilarious little hams that love affection.

After we lost our rabbit Louie to cancer just before his 10th birthday, we took a few months before bringing new babies home. I knew I wanted a whole new cage and hutch setup for them, so I got to thinking and came up with using a large dog pen with an attached 2 level hutch.

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The next thought was wood species. There are woods that are safe for rabbits to chew on, and there are woods that are generally thought to be bad for them (some are poisonous when green, but after being kiln dried, it's still a good idea to avoid them).

I knew I wanted to make a curved hutch, so I went with Italian Bending Poplar for that section and decided to continue the rest in poplar since it is a safe wood. I would finish it as a two-tone so it had more character and fit in with the living room aesthetics.

I chose a General Finishes Water-Based Stain (Black Cherry and Early American) for the color, which would only be on the outside of the hutch, and a Tried & True finish as a top coat. It is Linseed Oil based, and Linseed Oil is used by some vets as a therapy for rabbits that need more essential fats in their diet, so it seemed to be the safest option.

Then on to figuring out the design from a structural point.

It is all done with dados and rabbets, and held together with a few select brad point nails and standard yellow glue (basic titebond) because it has less chemicals in it. The floors and roof as well as the frame are solid poplar, and the vertical ribs of the frame are rabbeted to accept the curved panels. Finally, since I would have a ton of bending poplar left over, I laminated 4 sheet with alternating grain direction to make the ramp and the flat front wall for the second floor. (It gets amazingly rigid when laminated like this. I expected it to be a reasonably good shop made plywood, but wow, no more bending at that point!)

Now to build!

First I started off with making a template for the top, which would determine the overall size.

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Then jointed, planed and glued up the sections needed.

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I cut a stack of circle blanks as well that I glued up to be thrown on the lathe later to make a decorative accent for the roof.

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Once the panels were glued up, I started by cutting out the floor on the ground level to decide how it would attach to the cage. I cut the door off of the end of the cage and filed and sealed all the ends of the cage frame so they were safe. I then settled on a dado cut along the bottom of the panel that would drop over the edge of the cage opening to lock it in place. Gravity does the work of keeping it in place, but you can lift it free for cleaning and moving.

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Once that was in and level, it was on to building the verticals that would tie everything together. Even though it's a hutch that will get chewed up over the years, I still like nice clean joinery!

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And with those done, it was time to assemble the basic frame, which included dropping the turned decorative top piece on to see how it looked.

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Since everything looked good, it was time to start finishing. Again, I dropped the top parts back on to see how the frame looked with the two-tone.

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Then when the finish dried, it was time for the internal wall for the second floor.

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A test fit makes sure the door is as big as I can make it, while not being too tall and being blocked by the cage frame.

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Then it was time to put the curved panels in. They are fit in dry then tacked in place with decorative round head nails finished in black.

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Then it was time to fully assemble it and move it up to the living room!

The roof lifts off so you can clean the second level easily, or to get to a bunny that might be up there and unable or unwilling to come out. The small central section of the roof sits proud of the main roof by 1" so there is a gap for airflow into the second level. It is topped with a decorative glass cabinet door pull to add a little more visual interest. The ramp is attached to the second level and done!

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And after the project is done, the best reward is that it is a big hit with the new tenants!

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Thanks for checking out my project. As always I love to hear people points of view on the work and any suggestions.

Ian


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Edited by Ian Gagnon
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Ian, That has got to be one of the darndest things I've ever seen, in a good way. One, I didn't know you could raise rabbits for pets, much less house break them. I remember mom and dad raising several of them for Sunday dinner :wacko:  And that rabbit suite, too cool :D  Great job

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A lot of people aren't very familiar with rabbits as pets. I can't tell you how many people have come over the house and been surprised. They're massively social animals, so if you keep them isolated in a hutch outdoors, they get very introverted. If, however, you have them in your house, right in the middle if the action and interact with them every day, their personalities are HUGE! And they are wickedly smart. We're talking problem solving smart. If they can work out the leverage, they'll open their own cages, etc. They pretty much thrive on mental stimulation and puzzles. You just have to keep them stimulated or they get bored and will start to chew things, be antisocial.

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Edited by Ian Gagnon
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