Outdoor Rabbit Housing Options
All rabbit housing should include an enclosed area for sleeping and retreating from bad weather or when frightened, and a large area with space to run, hop and exercise.
Many different forms of housing can meet these requirements. The main options are listed below along with approximate prices. Costs will vary depending on the size, specifications and source, so only use these as a guide.
Hutch & Run
A hutch and run is the traditional and most common form of housing for outside rabbits. They are a good match to a rabbits needs, namely an enclosed sleeping area and a large open exercise space.
There is a wide range available for purchase but this number shrinks dramatically when trying to find hutches that meet the minimum welfare standards. A hutch and run is only a good option if it is a big hutch and a big run. Ideally the two should be permanently connected but the run can be separate providing your rabbit has daily access to the run.
The down side to a hutch and run style set up are more from a human point of view. Access can be difficult, reaching into the hutch may mean leaning over or climbing in to the run. Likewise interacting with your rabbits means removing the run lid and climbing over a side that may be 2' plus.
Cost: 6'x2' hutch £100 + 6'x6' rabbit run £70
Total: 48 square feet, £170, £3.54/square foot
A wooden child's playhouse is a good alternative to a hutch. They are larger in both floor area and height, providing space for toys and shelves that is lacking in hutches. The additional size also makes it easy to walk in and sit down to interact with your rabbits, which is ideal for bad weather, children or just adults that don't fancy climbing into a run.
Many people also prefer the appearance of playhouses to hutches. Playhouses are generally designed to be appealing, and with a coat of paint can make quite an attractive garden feature.
A playhouse will need some work to convert it into rabbit accommodation and it is also more difficult to move around the garden if you change your mind about position. They are also more expensive than hutches, but not dramatically so considering the larger size. They are also easier to find in suitable sizes and you may be able to purchase one second hand.
Like a hutch, rabbits living in a playhouse will still need access to a run which can be either separate or accessed via a cat flap.
Cost: 4'x4' playhouse £160 + 6'x6' rabbit run £80
Total: 52 square feet, £4.62 per square foot
A shed is very similar to a playhouse, although they are usually taller (a full 6') where as many playhouses are design for children's heights and are closer to 5'. Sheds are also available with larger floor areas. Large sheds can be used without a run though consideration should be given to ventilation and natural light, where as small sheds will again need either a run attached or separate access provided.
Sheds are generally cheaper than playhouses as they have less detail and are available in budget option. Again, much like a playhouse, sheds will need some work to convert them into rabbit accommodation.
Sheds and large playhouses need a smaller enclosed sleeping area inside, such as a small hutch or sleeping box.
Cost: 6'x4' shed £150 + 6'x4' rabbit run £60
Total 72 square feet, £2.92 per square foot
An aviary is in effect a large walk in run. It means you can easily access and interact with your rabbits without having to remove lids or climb barriers. Because an aviary is largely composed of mesh it is less imposing in a garden than the solid walls of a shed but you can still gain some protection by having a solid roof.
An aviary can be used in combination with many types of housing, for example with a hutch inside or attached to a shed or playhouse. If you place the hutch inside, use long legs so your rabbits can utilise the space underneath. An aviary attached to a shed will be slightly cheaper as it only need three sides and the shed wall forms the fourth.
Aviaries can either be bought as a complete item or as individual panels, allowing you to customise its size, shape and the location of doors.
Costs: 6'x6' approx. £200 + 6' hutch £100
Total: 48 square feet, £6.25 per square foot
Dog kennel/exercise run combinations can work very well as rabbit accommodation. They are a prebuilt version of a shed an aviary. They come in various sizes and heights - either full height or 'dog height' which is usually around 4'.
If you are not confident with DIY and are unsure about converting a shed this is a good option but it will be more expensive than making your own.
Cost: 10'x4' dog kennel/run £350
Total: 40 square feet, £8.75 per square foot