With a little bit of adjustment an average garden shed can be turned into luxury outdoor rabbit accommodation. Surprisingly, in terms of square feet, sheds often work out cheaper than the traditional rabbit hutch and they have many benefits.
Benefits a Rabbit Shed
- Size - Sheds are bigger than hutches, and bigger is better when it comes to rabbit accommodation. A sheds provides plenty of room for toys and activities; the height allows for boxes and shelves for your rabbit to hop on and off.
- Easy to adapt - Although some owners go all out creating sheds with insulation, heating and lighting most sheds need very little adaption to make good rabbit houses. In many ways they are already like giant hutches.
- Easy to find - Finding a large rabbit hutch can be difficult, particularly if you don't want to buy online and pay expensive postage fees. Sheds are much easier to obtain as they are available in most local gardening and DIY stores. You can also pick them up second hand.
- Walk-In - Sheds are not just great for bunnies, they are good for owners too. Fed up of getting rained on when you want to talk to your rabbits? With a shed you can sit inside the shelter with them. Being able to sit down and interact with your rabbits will help you build a closer relationship.
What to look for in a shed
Although almost all sheds can be adapted for rabbits there are a few points to consider that might influence your choice.
- Size - Even a small 6'x4' shed is a nice size for rabbits. Before you go too large it is worth checking with your council is there are any restrictions on the size of the shed you are allowed in your garden.
- Construction - Several different types of cladding (the wood covering the walls) is used on sheds. Tongue and groove and shiplap cladding are cut so they slot together to giving a smooth finish to the interior walls. Overlap cladding means the boards are fitted so each board slightly overlaps the one below - like tiles on a house roof. This leaves unprotected edges inside the shed which are easy for a rabbit to get its teeth around and chew so will need lining with boards. This type of construction is cheaper but less sturdy. Have a look at sheds in your local shops to get a feel for the differences.
- Style - Depending on your plans the type of shed may not make much difference but it is worth noting where the doors and windows are in relation to where you want to position your shed. If you plan to attach a run then consider which side of the shed it would be attached to and where the eaves are. Think about your plans for ventilation and light - if there are windows do they open? If there are no windows you will need to do more adaptations (either adding a mesh door or a run) to give your rabbits access to light.
Adapting a Shed for Rabbits
There are several options for windows:
Permanently exchange glazing for mesh - this provides plenty of ventilation but you will need to provide a shelter inside the shed for cold weather. You can also create covers for the windows to suit the season such as fly screen for summer and heavy duty tarp to increase heat retention in winter.
Add a secondary mesh screen - If your shed has opening windows then you can open them in hot weather for extra ventilation and fit a secondary mesh screen behind or over them for security (to prevent your rabbit getting out or anything getting in).
If you have no opening windows and want to keep the glazing you will need to provide alternative ventilation particularly in summer when sun shining through windows can make the temperature rise inside.
Windows covered in weld mesh.
If your shed has overlap cladding you may need to protect it from rabbit teeth by lining the walls. This is easily done by screwing boards to the upright battens. You only need to go as high as your rabbit can reach. The same technique can be used to insulate the shed walls. Fill the gap created between the external cladding and the boards with insulating material such as polystyrene or house insulation - see insulating sheds. If you are not fitting boarding to the walls then you may want to protect the corners of the upright battens in the shed either with scrap pieces of wood nailed on or corner protectors sold for doorframes.
Polystrene insulation fitted between the uprights of the shed.
Fitting lino over the shed floor will make cleaning much easier and protect the wood from litter tray accidents. Wooden battens around the edges will stop your rabbit digging up the corners. Small pieces of lino can often be obtained cheaply from the ends of rolls if you ask in store.
Insulation covered over with plywood sheet and a lino floor fitted.
You can maximise your use of space by adding a shelf. Rabbits like to sit up high and will particularly like access to look out windows. You can buy readymade shelves or build your own. Depending on the height of the shelf you may need to add a ramp or a box as a step up and down. You could also add a high shelf for storing food and equipment.
A shelf provides a raised platfom to sit on and a more enclosed area underneath.
Your shed door will need a suitable lock for security. A bolt will prevent access from animals and a padlock can be added to prevent human intruders.
Because your rabbits will be on floor level, you may want to consider a low barrier that you can step over but will stop your rabbits immediately running out when you open the door.
An internal screen door is a useful addition to a rabbit shed. This is a door made of mesh that fits inside the solid door, allowing you to open the main door for ventilation whilst keeping your rabbits securely contained. A simple wooden frame, covered in mesh is all you need. Another alternative is a stable door, with a mesh screen just covering the top section.
An internal mesh door (left) means the main door can be left open for extra light and ventilation during the day or in warm weather.
Although a shed is a great space, unless it's very large, your rabbits will still need access to a run. You can use a standard rabbit run but a full height avairy is a great option.
The shed with a large walk-in avairy attached.
A good way to link the shed with the exercise space is by fixing the run to the side of your shed with L-shape brackets and then adding a cat flap or bunny sized door between.
A DIY bunny flap providing access to the run, and the option to restrict access if needed.
With thanks to Sooty, Oreo, Charlie and Mittens for sharing photos of their lovely shed conversion.