We took over about 1/3 of our garden (the third with the lawn in) and turned it into a little bunny village that could originally hold all 6 of our rabbits (when we actually had 6 rabbits), it was designed to be a self-contained play and living area for them because we didn’t want them getting cooped up in unfamiliar hutches while we went on our holiday driving around Europe in summer 2014. This way, all our designated rabbit feeders had to do was feed them, the rabbits had toys, companionship with other groups (they were three pairs) and lots of room to exercise. The third hutch was at the back of the run but we threw it out (actually it’s still partly standing on the concrete, wood is always useful) when Fifer got Katie because she was too big to share his first hutch.
When we came back from Europe, we moved the 2 rabbits from the shed back into the house (Banacek and Cleo) and bought Fifer and Katie a new deluxe 2 storey hutch that was 5 foot wide and 18 inches deep, Katie adored it. We took the downstairs hutch doors off so they could have 24/7 indoor-outdoor access, which all the rabbits were used to by this point, and we’d already removed a couple of bricks so rabbits could get from the brick shed into the main run. The floor of the shed I covered in straw so it was basically an extension of their rabbit hutch. At this point, the rabbit run was still sectioned into three parts and Banacek and Cleo had the back of the run now when they wanted to play outside, which was slightly awkward for carrying them because Banacek never got used to being handled.
When Neville died, leaving Sebastian behind, about 18 months ago, I thought it was best to let Sebastian live out his days in the hutch we got him in, since he was very small (Netherland Dwarf) had a whole shed to himself (the wooden one) and a garden, and I wanted him to have continuity. Unfortunately, about three months ago with the really shitty weather we’ve had, the bottom of his hutch started to go rotten. I ripped the whole thing out one afternoon and redesigned a second hutch – the spare one we’d kept in the kitchen, that was going to be Banacek and Cleo’s outdoor hutch until Banacek died – and gave that to Sebastian. It’s the exact same hutch that Fifer and Katie (and now, Fifer and Poppy, who live part-time in the house because Poppy likes being inside but Fifer doesn’t like being an indoor bun) have in their shed, with a few slight differences because this hutch was a £30 fixer upper and the other was in pristine condition for nearly £100 (with discount vouchers). More info on how to design an inspirational rabbit hutch
The most important thing to talk about is the type of fencing to use, to make sure the rabbits really can have 24/7 indoor/outdoor access. You need a fencing that is really rabbitproof (insert joke about Australia’s rabbitproof fence here). We used different types of fencing in different areas to make the most rabbitproof run without having to spend 100 years making it:
Apart from where it’s against a fence, the chickenwire starts at 4 feet high because rabbits WILL chew through chickenwire, even the coated green stuff. The chicken wire replaced that awful lurid green stuff that was made of plastic that my husband bought, and which has been an eyesore for 18 months. Don’t use chicken wire anywhere that a rabbit’s mouth can reach unless there’s something behind it, and AVOID that stupid plastic stuff at all costs, I was against it from the moment I saw it, and when we were removing it, Poppy came out to explore, got tangled in it before we could stop her, and she nearly died. £600 of vet bills later she’s ok but it was the most harrowing experience.
At the very bottom of the rabbit run we have put this thick and relatively inflexible metal the squares are about 1.5cm wide each, so rabbits can’t get their noses through.
A little bit higher, we never had a problem with the green squares until we got Poppy. She’s a gorgeous Dutch bunny with a slightly more petite bone structure than our other rabbits, and being a bright young thing she will leap up and climb through these two levels of squares so I had to wrap this green wire diagonally to stop her getting out. I wouldn’t mind but it takes her too long to get back in because her bum gets stuck, and if a cat was in the greater garden it could very quickly eat her.
Toys are important to me for the bunnies, as important as grass I can’t stand the idea that they ever might be bored in their bunny village, so I like to give them as many things to do as will fit. I did make a little climbing frame for them but we had to take it apart when I replaced some of the fence panels earlier this year, so the components (such as this ladder) are still around.
And the most important thing in our giant rabbit enclosure is to make sure they can’t escape, because there are a lot of neighborhood cats and there are local foxes who have shat in our greater garden (bag it using 2 sandwich bags so you don’t touch it, clean the area with neat jeyes fluid, rinse with boiling water) so we know they are aware of our rabbits. So we fasten the door (an old garage side door we got on Freecycle) with a lock and a piece of wire. Before we used the wire, the vicious northern winds had been known to blow it open which can be very dangerous at night. I do let Fifer and Poppy out into the wider garden regularly (Sebastian doesn’t like going out of his run) they eat all my weeds it’s amazing.
So that’s our bunny village, currently housing Fifer, Poppy and Sebastian! What do you think? Have you made anything similar for your rabbits?
If you haven’t already, check out my other rabbit care articles