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Outdoor Housing Tips & Examples

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Dog Kennels:

What are they?

A dog kennel is a wooden building which is partly enclosed with wood panelling and partly enclosed with mesh. They usually have a built in roof.


(Image from ukkennels.co.uk)

What are the advantages?

Dog kennels are almost like ready made shed and aviaries combined so save a lot of work. They provide a large space with sufficient head height for a human.

What are the disadvantages?

They can be expensive. As with sheds and playhouses they can take up a lot of room.

OK, so I want to go for a dog kennel, what do I do now?

Find a supplier. Once it's been put up then you can kit it out just like a shed and aviary with toys. As it comes with an enclosed area already a hutch is not necessary although a small cheap one can be added to provide a sleeping space.
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Bike Sheds:

What are they?

A bike shed is similar to a normal shed but tends to be wider and not as deep. They also have big double doors at the front.


(Image from www.gardeners-world.net)

What are the advantages?

Bike sheds are bigger than hutches and provide a large space. As they are tall they can be adapted to create something similar to a large double hutch.

What are the disadvantages?

They require a lot of adaptation to be made into a double hutch. Without a second level they don't offer much floor space.

OK, so I want to go for a bike shed, what do I do now?

Have a look at the next post to see about converting bike sheds into double hutches.
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Here are some pictures of how we converted a 6.5ft x 2.5ft x 6 ft tall bike shed into a double hutch. There is a step to move from the bottom to top floor as my buns don't really like ramps and I think they take up too much space. It has since been insulated with polystyrene boards and then covered in plyboard.

How it started out


Shelf with hole for the step, covered in lino (stuck on with spray lino adhesive)


Edges and corners covered to prevent nibbling



Finished article, complete with mesh doors, for ventilation, so that top or bottom floor can be opened. Left door rmains solid as one door, so that there is plenty of shelter and shade. Right door closes over the mesh doors at night.







happy customers!


Shed cost £75 from preloved, materials about £50-70.

From this thread

As you may know I purchased one of these a few weeks ago to convert into a rabbit hutch:

Didn't realise quite how much work would be involved!
It only came with a 'base-coat' so I also had to paint it and I chose the Seasoned Oak Cuprinol Garden Shades.

Here it is newly erected but empty:


Then I had to create a frame so that it would have two floors inside it:


Added the floors:


Left a specific sized hole in the bottom floor for the litter trays I use:



Had to add some panels and doors on the right hand side so the buns can get some light and go in and out:




Then I put some sticky back plastic over the floors to make them easy to wipe clean and so they don't absorb bunny mess!


I have ordered the new run, so my work isn't finished yet, doh!
Probably going to have 4 small/medium bunnies living in there with a 12ft x 6ft run attached, but if that doesn't work out there will be just two in there with a 6ft x 6ft run.

It looked quite good until I added the stick back plastic didn't it?

From this thread
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Runaround System:

What is it?

Runaround said:
Runaround is a modular and connective rabbit run for rabbits and guinea pigs that attaches any hutch to an ever extendable run system or to an existing run. This is made possible with the Runaround door and burrow pipe enabling safe access from the hutch to the run and back.

Layout possibilities are endless and can easily be changed to give your pet fresh grass and a change of scene. With a choice of where to be and the safety of the burrow pipe your pet will be comfortable and secure. Rabbits and guinea pigs are naturally active at dawn and dusk. Runaround facilitates this natural behaviour.


(Image from www.runaround.co.uk)

What are the advantages?

The Runaround system is flexible and allows run of a garden without having to have a large run. The individual pieces can also be used within a shed or playhouse or to attach a run.

What are the disadvantages?

For a large system is can be quite expensive.

OK, so I want to go for a Runaround system what do I do now?

Plan out your layout and buy the individual pieces on their website.
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Winter Care:

Rabbitdan said:
As winter is gradually drawing in and with the threat of snow as early as next month, i would like to remind you of ways to help keep your rabbits happy and healthy during the winter months.


If your rabbits is housed in a hutch or shed make sure you protect it from the wind/rain/snow. Here are some ways to do this:
Make hutch shutters. These are simply pieces of wood that are put over the mesh to reduce drafts.

Insulate the hutch/shed with insulation material. This can be bought from most DIY stores. You need to cover it with plywood so the rabbits don't nibble it!

Cover the hutch. No rabbit should be outside during the winter without a cover on their hutch. Covers do not need to be the expensive purpose made ones. A simple blanket over the hutch will suffice. I like to provide different layers to trap the air. I use Hessian sack and Tarpaulin as well as wooden shutters.

Snugglesafe heat pads. These are brilliant for single bunnies that cannot snuggle up to another rabbit for heat. However some rabbits are known to wee on them!

Cat flap. If your rabbit lives in a hutch, fit a cat flap between the two areas. If your rabbit lives in a shed fit a cat flap between the hutch and the run. The cat flap is to reduce drafts.


I am going to increase my rabbits pellet intake this winter. The reason for this is they need to use more energy to keep warm.


Make sure outside rabbits have a nice warm bed area. In a hutch this is the enclosed area. Some ideas for bedding are
Straw. The warmest of the 'throw away' beddings. It has hollow insides to trap air. However it is not as soft as hay. Use newspaper underneath to insulate.

Hay. Hay is more comfortable then straw. Rabbits will eat the hay so it will need to be topped up regularly. Also a lot of rabbits like to wee of hay, making regular cleaning essential. Use newspaper underneath to insulate.

Soft pet bed. I like to use these as they are fluffy and are the more comfortable than hay and straw! They are also cheaper in the long run as you they don't need replacing every week, like the other beddings! I use straw on top of the soft beds. However a lot of rabbits like to chew and wee in soft bedding.

You could use a snugglesafe with any of these beddings


Make sure that you have a spare bottle so that you don't need to worry about de-icing the bottle every morning! If you want to use hutch shutters you will need a bottle holder for inside the hutch.. I bought mine of ebay and it is really good (http://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/Inside-hut...item3f0dbf8806). If you use a bottle holder in the hutch, this will help prevent the bottle from freezing. Bowls will freeze quickly during the winter. If your rabbits don't chew i recommend putting masking tape around the spout of the bottle, this worked for me last year and the spout only froze a few times and that was during snow.

Hutch/shed life

Make sure the hutch/shed has had a recent coat of hutch stain. This will need to be re stained every few years. You will also need to make sure that the roof of the rabbits hutch/shed is water proof.


Rabbits still need exercise in the winter. It is recommended that your rabbits gets at least 5 hours of run time every day. My rabbits have access to their run 24:7. I recommend you cover the top of your run with tarpaulin or plastic corrugated sheeting. to stop the inside of run from getting wet.

Here are some pictures of my winter preparations.

1st layer - Shutters


2nd layer - Hessian


3rd layer - Tarpaulin, this stops rain and snow from getting in the run


Thank you for reading

[emoji767] rabbitdan2011
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RWAF Hot tips for keeping outdoor buns warm this winter

Amongst our members and supporters there is a huge wealth of knowledge, so we asked everyone to share their top tips. Some are well tried and tested, and still working well, but others are ingenious and we wonder how we hadn’t thought of them already.

Keeping rabbits warm is important, because in the wild they would live in underground burrows and the temperature changes very slightly between summer and winter. By keeping them above ground we are subjecting them to extremes of temperature changes and we need to help them stay warm and dry. Damp and draughts can be deadly to bunnies at this time of year.

We always recommend rabbits are kept in pairs, and there is no nicer way of keeping warm than by snuggling up to your friend.

Companionship is often overlooked, and can be even more important over the winter months. Naturally, because of the dark nights and poor weather we are less inclined to spend time in the garden, so we see less of our rabbits who are kept outdoors. You must make sure you check them regularly (at least three times a day, but more is always better), and check that the hutch / shed is not leaking, that their bed is dry and that they always have hay and water.

Remember that even in bad weather rabbits will need to exercise every day; it is not acceptable to keep them locked in a hutch because you are not able to provide a protected exercise area for them, so some forward planning now may be needed. A hutch attached to a safe exercise run means the rabbits can shelter in the hutch or exercise in the run when they please. At the very least, add a tarpaulin cover to both to protect them from rain and snow, and a hiding place (one per bunny).

Garden sheds offer a great alternative to a traditional rabbit hutch because they can be well insulated and the rabbits are nice and dry inside and they have more room to move around. It is also easier for the owners to feed and clean out inside a garden shed in wet weather. Exercise runs can still be attached to a shed, and can still be covered by a tarpaulin.

The easiest thing would be to bring the hutch and run into an unused shed, garage (as long as it has a window and you aren’t using it for a car…those exhaust fumes are very dangerous) or a conservatory. Lots of owners bring their rabbits in and keep them as house rabbits over the winter months. It’s fine to have winter house rabbits and summer garden rabbits, as long as you do not embark on this and then abandon it mid way; if you decide to do it, you will have to stick to it because it would be cruel to bring them in and let them moult their winter coat, only to put them outdoors again before spring. If you are going to do this, then first of all bring them into a room with no heating and acclimatise them gradually. Remember that they may find household noises like the TV and washing machine scary so take your time. They will not be used to our artificial lights either, so make sure they have somewhere to hide out of the lights while they adjust.

Top Tip – if bringing rabbits in doors do it gradually – bring them into a cold quiet room, and give them plenty of places to hide. Use their own litter tray and toys so that they have a familiar smell.

By cold – we mean if the temperature falls below zero; that is when insulating sheds and hutches and items such as Snugglesafe can be used to best effect – but of course lots of the tips relate to weatherproofing and they can be used in wet and windy weather regardless of the temperature. You will need to use your own common sense.

However, most rabbits live out doors all year round, so if this applies to you then read on!

To stop water bottles or bowls freezing:

Cable tie a plant pot to the inside of the hutch and put the water bottle in there. Once the hutch is insulated (see below) it reduces the risk of the bottle freezing. (Total genius, well done to the person that thought of this!)

Don’t forget to check that water bottles are working properly, and keep 2 so that if one freezes it can be swapped for another.

If you use water bowls, lift them off the floor of the shed or hutch, and keep them out of a draught.

Wrap water bottles with bubble wrap, a thermal sock or glove.

Use a Snuggle Safe under a water bowl to stop it freezing.

For keeping hutches and runs warm

Use a tarpaulin with eyelets so it can be secured in place.

Put old blankets or duvets over the hutch and run, but under the tarp for extra insulation. (Make sure bunnies can not nibble the blankets or tarp)

Buy a Snugglesafe heat pad to use overnight.

Make sure bedding is kept warm and dry. Straw is warmer than hay so makes a better winter bedding, but nothing is warm if it is wet. Your cleaning schedule needs to be scrupulous in the winter and don’t be stingy - make sure you provide a deep bed of something like shavings or Megazorb and plenty of straw.

Use silver backed beach mats to insulate the hutch and run

Put wind breaks up around the hutch and run

Line sheds to create a double wall, and an extra layer of insulation.

Add Perspex sheets to the front of hutches and runs to keep them weather proof, but allow rabbits to see out and get daylight. If you do this make sure there is still good ventilation, perhaps leave a small gap along the top.

Add a cardboard box with a small hole to the bedroom area and fill it with dry straw.

Add a low wattage heater to a shed – make sure that the bunnies cannot chew the cable!

Insulate the shed or hutch, and also the hutch or nest box inside.

One final note, this advice is really for rabbits in good body condition, those who are old, or thin may need even more care, and we advise the owners of such bunnies to bring them in for the winter.

This advice is now on our website at http://www.rabbitwelfare.co.uk/pdfs/RWAFtoptipsforwintercare.pdf

From this thread
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