As classic prey animals, rabbits that spend time in outdoor rabbit cages must be protected from predators present in the area. Rabbit owners who purchase commercially available hutches may find that some appear to be more “predator proof” than others.
There are single level hutches with a wooden sitting area along with an attached wire enclosure exercise area. The entire unit rests on the ground and, if not properly anchored, a powerful predator such as a large dog could tip it over.
The two-tier hutches feature a variety of styles of attractive weather-resistant wood housing with a wired exercise area directly below them. The ramps allow your rabbit to come and go and some of the living areas have additional rooms and even storage compartments where owners can store their supplies. Although generally heavier than single-tier models, these hutches are still susceptible to tip-over, though less so.
Commercially available rabbit cages claim to keep your precious rabbit safe from predators, but none of them take into account one facet of predator behavior – predators in a variety of sizes can burrow!
Many rabbit owners feel that their outdoor hutches are safe from large predators, as their outdoor areas are enclosed by secure fences. True, it would be difficult for a large dog to find a hole in the fence, but it can find a weak spot and work its way under it. Once inside their fenced area, they find a potential meal waiting for them in the hutch. Any outdoor hutch with a wire enclosure resting on the ground is subject to a predator digging under the wire enclosure and entering. Smaller predators, such as raccoons, foxes, and even cats, are more likely to break through the fence barrier and also dig. So how can you protect your hutch from a burrowing predator?
It is not an easy task, but if your location has a significant number of free-roaming predators, it is essential. The basic idea is to dig a trench around the base of your hutch and add wood or wire of sufficient length to force the predator to dig deeper.
Wire is the most difficult material to use, as it is more difficult to cut and its flexibility makes it more difficult to place it in the trench in a straight line that you will need to later ensure additional protection to the existing hutch material. If your hutch has a strip of wood around the base, the additional wire protection can be secured directly to the wood. Wire-to-wire connection requires the appropriate hardware, such as 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 screw the additional protection to the existing wood perimeter or screw the existing wire perimeter to the wood. An added benefit of doing this is making the hutch more resistant to tips 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 toward ensuring the safety of your pet rabbit.