If you’d like to have an outdoor rabbit hutch for your pet bunny but you’re not quite yet ready to invest in a commercially available hutch, there is a way you can customize an indoor cage to do “double duty”. The basic idea is simple: use the wire structure of the indoor cage as an internal metal skeleton over which you will create a wooden outdoor rabbit hutch.
Some indoor cages come with wheels for easy portability and if you live in a single story home with only a few stairs, the cage/hutch can easily go back and forth between the indoors and outdoors. Depending on how you convert the cage, it’s also possible to add handles to the cage/hutch roof, allowing you to pick it up and carry it back and forth, provided of course it doesn’t weigh too much.
You’ll have to have some basic carpentry skills to do this, but if it is an idea that appeals to you, you can also select a wire dog cage for the conversion. Wire dog cages have the distinct advantage of being much taller, allowing a truly skilled person to create a second floor living quarters for that precious pet. While no dog cages come with wheels, wheel caster assemblies can be attached to the bottom of the cage. How would you start?
First, check the Internet or your local pet supply center to see examples of commercially available wooden rabbit hutches for outdoor use. All you’re looking for here is ideas. Visualize your final design and then sketch out the details of each step on paper.
The first step will be to enclose the wire cage with a wooden frame of 2 x 4 or even 1 x 2 lumber. For the walls you’ll most likely want to use exterior plywood, attached to the frame. If you have the skills you can top the wooden shell with an A frame style roof. A simpler alternative is to extend the framing lumber on one side higher than the other and then attach a sheet of plywood to create a slanted, shed style roof. Regardless of which you use, you can shingle the roof for better protection and beauty, although it will add to the weight of the hutch if your plan calls for mounted handles to pick the hutch up and move it. For a lighter alternative, you can cover the roof with sheet plastic.
The floors of both indoor rabbit cages and door cages are made of welded wire, and in the case of rabbit cages, with drop pans underneath. Some dog cages don’t have drop pans, and in either case, your cage/hutch will be resting on the ground so the drop pan can be eliminated when outdoors. Cleaning then is a simple matter of moving the cage and collecting the rabbit’s droppings.
Welded wire is generally spaced so wide that it can provide a painful surface for some rabbits to walk on. You can either install a narrow mesh wire, like hardware cloth, directly over the existing wire, or you can cover a portion of the floor with wood or plastic. Avoid a continuous solid wood floor as rabbit urine may soak into the wood and begin producing ammonia like fumes over time. This is a tough project, but you’ll be proud of your creative result if you decide to do it.