Monday, November 29, 2010

Getting started with rabbits: Part #1

 So maybe you've been thinking about getting rabbits, but have no idea where to start, what to look for or what to do. I thought I might do a series of posts that might help those who are interested. In part #1 I think I will start out by covering housing...

Housing: "What should I put them in?" Let me start out by saying that this will be your biggest hurdle (as good cages are hard to find!); but once it's done, it's done! All wire cages are my top favorite. They are easy to clean, durable, light, and can be used for other purposes (such as a corn crib!). The only downside to using wire cages is that they are hard to find. Rabbit owners hoard these, knowing their value, and can be reluctant to sell them. I would suggest looking on Craigslist for cages. If you see an ad that says someone is "getting out of rabbits", or "selling the whole herd" ask them if they are selling any cages!

Wooden hutches are okay. They are much easier to find than wire, hanging cages, but tend to be heavy, hard to clean, and the rabbits gnaw on exposed wood. But if you are just starting out, and don't know if rabbits are something that you want to go further with, wood hutches might be a good thing to start with. When looking at used hutches, make that the flooring is not hardware cloth! I've had hutches with hardware cloth, and trust me, it doesn't pay in the end. Hardware cloth is not as sturdy as the usual 1/2"x1" flooring wire, and will eventually break from the strain of having rabbits on it. Rabbits also tend to get 'sorehocks' (infection in the feet) when on hardware cloth. Also check the hutch for cleanliness (they are never going to be perfect, just ask yourself "Am I really going to be able to clean this up?") and wood that has been chewed on.

For the meat breeds, cages should be at least 2' wide and 3' long (cages are usually 18" high). This will house a doe and her litter. Smaller breeds, that could still be used for meat (such as a Dutch, Tan, or Havana) will be fine in a 18" wide and 2' long cage.

The wooden hutches, of course, will be fine anywhere outside as long as they won't get the brunt of any bad weather. Hanging cages need to be inside a building of some sort. Be it a shed turned into your rabbitry, a barn, chicken coop, etc. Just someplace that is relatively draft free.


Garden of Glory said...


Why don't rabbits get sore hocks on 1/2" x 1" wire flooring? Diet and cleanliness have a lot to do with it too, right?

Yes, think 'this cage will house a chewing machine... is it bunny-proof' :P

Mennagerie Farm said...

The 1/2" by 1" wire is often times galvanized which really helps protect those bunny feet. :) Hardware cloth always has rough parts on it, and when rabbits get to thumping, it really starts to take a toll on the rabbits.

Yes, diet and cleanliness also have a part in sorehocks. I once had a Tan doe who had extremely thin hock pads, and consequently was forever getting sorehocks.