The Walden Effect: Farming, simple living, permaculture, and invention.

Rabbit house redesign to become a rabbit nursery

Rabbit houseSince we decided to bring about our first litter of baby bunnies, one of the things on our must-do list has been to rework our doe's house.  We are in the midst of some unplanned house remodeling at present, so I guess it's only fitting that our rabbits get a remodel at the same time too.  At right, you can see our doe peeking out of what was her first house.  However, this house probably isn't ideal for caring for a newborn litter of fuzzballs.  So Dawn quickly went to work modifying the original accommodations to better support our doe and her future litter.

Rabbit-gnawed woodOne thing we have learned about our rabbits is that they will chew on nearly anything we give them, especially wood.  Ample supplies of things to chew on helps with boredom, but it also helps keep their teeth in shape.  With only rabbit food to eat, their teeth can get to the point where they need trimming.  A generous supply of branches and pieces of (untreated!) lumber helps to keep them from chewing on the hutch and housing.  As is evident from the photo, though, they will still chew on whatever suits their fancy at the time.

DeconstructionDawn began reworking the house by pulling it apart with what we call a "Wonder Bar", an indispensable tool for disassemblage of any carpentry work.  She removed first the roof, then front of the house.  She planned to modify the door so that it was on the upper portion such that there would be a protective barrier on the bottom to prevent the newborn bunnies from falling out of the house to certain doom.  If they were to come out of the house we'd feared that they would fall through to the ground below or injure themselves on the wires of the hutch.

Dawn took the opportunity to replace some of the more extensively chewed parts of the house like the one in the second photo in this post.  It's obvious how much these bunnies like to chew on things when looking at this former piece of the door frame.

Making a rabbit houseWith the front of the house and roof removed, she rotated the front 180 degrees and reattached it.  This provided the protective sill along the bottom.  Every bit as important as the protective sill is a hinged roof which will allow us to check on the kits and replace soiled hay and bedding.  Dawn recycled some hinges off of an old cabinet door and fitted them to the roof and house.  This allows the easy access needed.

Rabbit nursery house

You can see the finished product above.  Our doe immediately took to the modifications when the house was returned to the hutch and she had no issues hopping inside through the modified doorway with its sill plate.  Hopefully the modifications Dawn made to her housing will provide a trouble free home for the new kits expected in about two weeks or so.  I'm hoping that by the time of our next post we have some news to report on that front.

Shannon and Dawn will be sharing their experiences with raising meat rabbits on Tuesday afternoons. They homestead on three acres in Louisiana when time off from life and working as a sys admin permits.

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About us: Anna Hess and Mark Hamilton spent over a decade living self-sufficiently in the mountains of Virginia before moving north to start over from scratch in the foothills of Ohio. They've experimented with permaculture, no-till gardening, trailersteading, home-based microbusinesses and much more, writing about their adventures in both blogs and books.

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One thing to watch very carefully with winter litters is chilling. Not through cold temperatures but dampness in the nest box. It took me a little while to work this one out when we kept commercial meat rabbits, but a solid floored nest box means there is no drainagfe of moisture, and we lost a few litters at around 7 to 10 days old that became chilled because of a damp floor. I made new nest boxes with floors of one-eighth inch square mesh and never had any more trouble.
Comment by Old McDonald Wed Nov 28 14:51:26 2012

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