Many people find large, commercial rabbit cages beyond their budget. A rabbit benefits from a cage that is at least six times his body area, apart from the space required for a litter box. For most, that means something at least 2 feet by 3 feet, plus space for the box. But that’s the minimum. To provide your rabbit with room to move around, larger is better.
While commercial rabbit cages are often outstanding – large, innovative in design and solidly made – they can burden the pocketbook. For those who have a little do-it-yourself skill and a willingness to try, making a rabbit cage isn’t too difficult.
First, what not to do. Many rabbit cages, even commercial ones, use a wire floor. That may help you clean up, but it’s harmful to the rabbit. Even a fairly fine mesh will stress the rabbit’s hocks and pads. Eventually, sores develop that are both painful and unhealthy. They take a long time to heal.
Avoid that problem by using a solid floor. Properly made with the right materials it provides an easy to clean surface that is much better for your rabbit. One way to accomplish that is to select a sturdy piece of plywood at least 1/2 inch thick as a base. To make it easy to clean and more comfortable for the rabbit, it can be covered with a plastic or similar sheet.
That covering can be a strip of simple linoleum flooring, available at the home supply store for a few dollars at most. Tacking it onto the plywood takes only a few minutes and it will last for years. Alternative designs use a large, shallow, rectangular container turned upside down and nailed to the plywood. Nailing is sometimes preferable to gluing, but the latter can be used, too.
The bottom of the platform can be made safe for carpets and easy to move by tacking or gluing some rubber or plastic ‘feet’ on it. The type is easy to find at any home supply store. The sort that are used to cushion kitchen cabinets, for example, make excellent pads.
Making the upper portion of the cage requires only a modestly greater effort. You can easily construct a frame with 1 by 4’s or 2 by 4’s, though the latter make the cage much heavier. Or, you can drill some small holes into the flooring and insert 1/4-1/2 inch wooden dowels with a bit of glue on the ends. The frame will be stronger if there are some L-braces at the top and bottom.
Once the frame is in place and solid, finishing the cage is simple. Though plastic mesh fencing is inexpensive it’s not recommended, since rabbits will chew through it once they get the idea. And since they chew on everything, they will sooner or later. Instead, use some ordinary chicken wire mesh. But make sure after you wrap it around the frame and trim to size that there are no sharp points anywhere. Rabbits won’t tend to chew the chicken wire, but even coming close to it can cause a puncture if it’s improperly installed.
To make a second floor and a ramp is a good idea and simple to do. Use the same kind of floor as the base and simply support it with dowels or short 1 by 4’s secured with L-braces. Then cut a notch in the second floor and nail a ramp made of plywood between the two levels.
To provide variety, you can make the cage an L-shape that holds the litter box in the shorter leg. Octagons are another popular variation. Even creating a maze isn’t very difficult. That will keep your rabbit busy and mentally stimulated, which will keep him out of mischief.