As classic prey animals, rabbits that spend time in outdoor rabbit hutches need to be protected from whatever predators are present in the area. Rabbit owners who shop for commercially available rabbit hutches can see that some appear to be more “predator proof” than others.
There are single level rabbit hutches with a wooden living area coupled with an attached wire enclosure exercise area. The entire unit rests on the ground and if not properly anchored could be subject to tipping over by a powerful predator, like a large dog.
Two level rabbit hutches feature a variety of styles of attractive weatherproof wooden living quarters with a wire enclosed exercise area directly beneath them. Ramps enable your rabbit to go back and forth and some of the living areas feature additional rooms and even storage compartments where owners can keep their supplies. While generally heavier than single level models, these rabbit hutches are still susceptible to tipping, although less so.
Commercially available rabbit hutches claim to keep your precious pet rabbit safe from predators, but none of them take one facet of predator behavior into account: predators in a variety of sizes can dig!
Many rabbit owners feel their outdoor rabbit hutches are safe from large predators since secure fencing encloses their outdoor areas. It is true that it would be difficult for a large dog to find a gap in the fence, but they can find a weak spot and dig their way under it. Once inside your fenced area, they find a potential meal waiting for them in the hutch. Any outdoor rabbit hutch with a wire enclosure resting on the ground is subject to a predator digging under the wire enclosure and getting in. Smaller predators, like raccoons, foxes, and even cats are more likely to get through your fence barrier and they dig as well. So how do you predator proof your rabbit hutch from a digging predator?
It’s not an easy task but if your location has significant numbers of free roaming predators, it is essential. The basic idea is to dig a trench around the base of your rabbit hutch and add wood or wire of sufficient length to force the predator to dig deeper.
Wire is the more difficult material to use since it is harder to cut and its flexibility makes it harder to place in the trench in the straight line you’ll need to then secure the added protection to the existing rabbit hutch material. If your rabbit hutch has a wooden strip around the base, the added wire protection can be secured directly to the wood. Wire to wire connection requires appropriate hardware, like u-bolts spaced around the perimeter.
Wood treated with weather resistant preservatives is much easier to install. Cut the wood to the desired length and width and then either screw the added protection to the existing wood perimeter, or screw the existing wire perimeter to the wood. An added benefit of doing this is making the rabbit hutch more tip proof as well. Most rabbit owners have a deep affection for these wonderful pets and keeping them safe is a concern for them. Taking this step, while difficult, will go a long way towards ensuring the safety of your pet rabbit.