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Posted in Facts about Raising Rabbits | 9 comments

What you need to know about rabbit cages

Rabbit cages should be constructed of one-inch, 12-gauge galvanized-after-welding mesh or “hardware cloth.” Poultry mesh isn’t going to cut it.

To keep your rabbits as safe as possible, you should suspend cages from the ceiling or rafters with 14-gauge wire or mount them on the wall.  If you can’t, use metal legs to support the cages. Wooden posts and benches will give rats, snakes and other small predators access to your rabbits. They’ll also rot out quickly and need lots of scrubbing to keep odors at bay.

Adult rabbits need individual cages. Having more than one in a cage will result in fights and two does in one cage can induce labor in each other. Kits can be left in with the mother until 8 weeks old if adequate space is provided. They’ll also prefer the extra warmth that a full cage offers in colder weather. Fryers can also be packed into cages during colder temps. But if it’s warm, make sure at least 25% of the floor space is cleared for them to stretch out.

Bucks can be housed in slightly smaller cages but will benefit from some extra exercise in a decent sized cage. You will also want an isolation cage for any sick animals or to quarantine rabbits which are being introduced to the herd or have been away from the others for a period of time (such as at a show.) These extra cages will also be useful when you are cleaning the rabbit cages so you have a safe place to temporarily house the rabbits.

A good rule to follow for rabbit cage sizing is one square foot for each pound of rabbit. Examples: Small breeds —2 1/2 x 2 1/2 ft. = 6 1/4 sq. ft.  Medium breeds—2 1/2 x 3 ft. = 71/2 sq. ft.  Large breeds—2 1/2 x 4 ft. = 10 sq. ft. with at least 18 inches of head room. Don’t crowd your doe into a small cage that will be overflowing when 8-10 bunnies join her.  Also ensure that you can get your hands on the rabbit wherever it may try to hide in the cage. If it is too deep, the rabbit will run to the far corner out of your reach! Making the cage longer, not wider, will allow you easier access.

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  • Carl Hames

    Fantastic article, thanks very much!

  • Tiffany

    Thanks! Glad you enjoyed it and hope it was helpful. It IS one of the most important components of the rabbitry.

  • Lauren Doerr

    I really do not like to use hardware cloth on my rabbi cages. It tends to tear up their feet. I raise Mini Rex and Californians. My rabbits with litters live in cages that are 24 x 36 and that generally gives them enough room although I have raised Mini Rex litters in 18 x 24 cages. My adult Californians live in cages that are either 18 x 30 or 24 x 24.

  • Tiffany

    What sort of wire do you use, Lauren? Or are you using something like sheet metal instead for the bottoms of their cages?

  • Tammy

    Just a thought for those who don’t like to use hardware cloth on the floor of their cages.
    I placed large porcelain tiles on the floor of my cages smaller than the cage. Most of the little bits would still fall out the flooring around the edges so your cage will stay cleaner than a solid floor. The porcelain tiles will not hold odors and are easy to clean

  • Trishanna

    I’ve found a great difference in different kinds of wire on their feet. The 1/4″ square galvanized hardware cloth, which I was advised to buy, is horrible for them. The wire I use now is stronger, 1/4 x 1/2 grid, and smooth to the touch. I rub my hands over it to test the surface. This is also strong enough for the bucks not to tear up (I’ve found bucks to be VERY destructive of lighter wire, even though mine are house in large cages). I also give them wooden platforms to lie on and chew on, and in the summer I often give them large ceramic tiles (sometimes cooled in the freezer) to help them keep their temps down. They really need a resting board of some sort to give them a break from the wire. I use the lighter wire now inside the sides for about the lower six inches to keep babies from falling through my breeding doe cages, since I use a larger hole opening for the sides.

  • adam

    How much does it cost to build a single cage with the 24X36 dimensions? I’m trying to weigh the cost of buying them already cut versus going to the hardware store and buying spools of hardware cloth and all the other accessories to build a cage. Any suggestions?

  • granny05

    any one have any ideas for rabbits in northern michigan? our winters get below 0.F and i am really worried about them. i have a small barn that is not in good condition. any ideas on a heat source,or anything i can do to assure their survival. thanx.

  • Tiffany

    Try to find breeding stock that is from your local area if at all possible so that the rabbits you breed will be better acclimated to the cold weather. Down to about 20°F, rabbits are fairly comfortable. But you definitely do not want to leave newborn kits outside in those sort of temps and if you do have a litter born, I would strongly consider bringing the nest (with or without the mother doe) into a space which is warmer, whether that be a home, garage or whatever. Or at the very least, look into getting some sort of heating elements for the kits.

    Putting close fitting plastic sheeting or tarps around the cages should help keep warmth in but do make sure that it doesn’t get too warm inside the cages during the day and that the rabbits still get fresh air. Watch out for moisture building up inside, especially in the hay or bedding straw and change it out if you feel it’s wet since it could freeze overnight. You can add extra bedding or line the cages with newspaper to help keep the rabbits warmer inside - or even give them a box to sleep in (although they might soil it), since in the wild they’d burrow deep inside the ground.