Linking a Rabbit Hutch & Run
Any rabbit that has a hutch should also have an exercise run. Rabbits need to exercise every day, even in bad weather. Rabbits are often most active in the evenings or early mornings, but play on and off throughout the day, so ideally they should have free access to their exercise run so they can hop and play whenever they want. With that in mind, here are some options for linking a hutch with a run.
Hutch Over Run
One of the commonest ways to link a hutch and run is to have the hutch sitting on top of the run with a hole in the hutch floor leading down a ramp and into the run below. This setup is also great way to save space if you don't have a big garden. You can buy hutch/run combinations ready setup this way with holes pre-cut and a ramp included, but it's also possible to convert existing hutches.
The 6ft Kendal Rabbit Hutch & Run
£179 inc. delivery via Amazon
Converting a Hutch & Run
Unless your run is very sturdy, it's likely you'll need to add extra upright posts to help support the weight of the hutch. For most run designs this means cutting some lengths of wood (2" square would be a good size) and screwing or nailing them to the run to brace it under where the hutch will sit.
If the hutch is a different length to the run, you will need to use boards to span the width of the run and then sit the hutch on these. Materials for adding supports should only cost £10-15.
Marked in green, areas you may need to add support when converting a run
Cutting a hole can be a bit tricky, the easiest way is to use a drill to make a small hole and then use a jig saw to cut around. A 6" square hole will fit small-medium size rabbits. With a sloping ramp it helps to elongate the hole to 8"x6".
An alternative to resting the hutch directly on the run is to build a separate stand to raise it to the correct height and place the hutch it on the stand inside the run. You can also offset it so that the hutch is only part over the run to make access easier.
Opening the Door
Reversing the hutch can make accessing inside much easier.
Whether building, buying or converting, with this style setup an important consideration is how you will access the hutch. You'll find it a much more practical arrangement if you can open the hutch door without having to take the lid off the run first. This means positioning the hutch so that the bottom of the hutch door is high enough to clear the lid of the run. If your hutch and run don't naturally lend themselves to this, you can resolve it by adding board(s) under the hutch to raise it enough to allow the hutch doors to open freely.
Although this will improve access, you may still find you need to stand inside the run to be able reach inside the hutch. To get around this, you may like to place the hutch on 'backwards' so instead of looking out over the run, the hutch faces the opposite direction and you can stand in front of it.
Hutch In/Adjacent to Run
Putting your rabbit's hutch into the run is the simplest option for linking the two, the drawback is that reduces the amount of space in the run. Raising the hutch on legs or blocks so your rabbits can use the space underneath (even if it's limited height) will make a big difference. If your run isn't quite high enough to fit the hutch inside, then increase the height of the run by adding a plank of wood all the way around the base.
You can also put the hutch and run next to each other and remove mesh from one section of the run wall and have the hutch door open into this. Only part overlapping the hutch can make access easier to the rest of the hutch. Use plywood to fill any gaps between the hutch/run or under the front edge of the hutch. Make sure the hutch and run and fixed together, e.g. with brackets or hooks, so they can't be pushed apart by your rabbit or predators.
Linking Hutch to Run with Tunnels
Not everyone has the luxury of a giant garden and it can sometimes be a bit difficult to fit everything in the same place or perhaps you want to place the hutch near the house for easy access and the run on the grass for grazing.
The solution to this is to link your hutch and run via a tunnel. Rabbits love tunnels and having their sleeping area linked to the exercise area via a tunnel is actually quite a natural setup; it's very similar to how they'd use a warren.
Hutch Connection Kits
There are two companies that sell kits with pipe and connectors. Both kits can be used to connect hutches with runs or to link several runs together by attaching either through mesh panels or the wood sides of a hutch.
Left: Pipe Connection from Welfare Hutch Co., Right: Connector Kit from Runaround.
DIY Tunnel Connections
If you'd like to make your own using similar tunnel to kits, the pipe used is 150mm land drain. If there is any electric/gas/road works going on near you and you ask nicely you might be able to pick up sections for free.
Tunnels don't have to be made of pipes, or even round. With not too much DIY you can make a simple, but very effective, tunnel from plywood.
It's important that the tunnel and the joints between the tunnel and the side of the hutch or run are secure, and check regularly for wear, chewing or loose connections.