Thursday, May 22, 2014

DIY Bunny Pen

We own a lovely angora rabbit. His name is Peter.



He has an outdoor hutch that is roomy and wonderful. He is allowed to go outside to eat the dandelions on nice days.

When he is indoors and we are around, he is allowed to freely roam around our living room and kitchen. He is litter trained, and he uses it well.

However, when he is not supervised indoors, Peter needs a safe place to stay. Rabbits chew, and like most rabbits, Peter has a fondness for chewing through cords and pulling apart furniture.

Peter is a big boy, although most of what you see of him is fluff. The commercial indoor cages are entirely too small, and the large outdoor hutches are a bit too much for inside.

What to do.. what to do?

I did what I always do when I can't find exactly what I'm looking for - I made my own! And now I'm blogging about how I made this indoor rabbit enclosure so you can make your own, too (and at a fraction of the cost of a large commercial cage to boot).

DIY Rabbit Cage everydaysundry.blogspot.com

Now before you get all peta on me, let me reiterate that this cage is only for when Peter is unsupervised. It would be sad to leave him in a pen all of the time. He is allowed out for regular exercise, play, and dandelion munching.

I had not yet started this blog when I made the pen, so I will have to explain what I did without photos. I apologize about that. However, I promise that this pen was very easy to make, so I'm sure you will be able to make it without detailed pictures. :)

Here's what you need:
  • Plastic self-standing baby gate
  • Duct tape
  • Outdoor vinyl mesh fabric
  • Staple gun and staples
  • Scissors
  • Chair mat
  • A partner
  • Rabbit
  • Rabbit accessories
To make this pen, I used four panels of a plastic six paneled self-standing baby gate that I already had on hand from my kids. If you don't own one, I recommend the Northstate Superyard Playgate, available here from amazon.com.

Each panel is approximately 3 feet across, so you will want to get enough of the mesh fabric to cover the top (at least 1 1/2 yards). I used an outdoor vinyl coated mesh fabric (the kind you would find on a pop-up screen house) that I purchased from JoAnn's.  Really, any kind of sturdy mesh will do. Here are some examples.

The Duct Tape I used was denim. I wanted to have it look more fabricy than regular duct tape. 

The chair mat is available from any office supply store. It should be big enough for the entire pen to fit on top with some room to spare. If you want, you can cut off the "lip" so that it is a perfect square, but I didn't. In my case, the lip is under the curtain in the background.

Assembly instructions:
  1. Pop four panels of the plastic baby gate in place. The panels "snap" together.
  2. Cut the mesh fabric so that it lays at least from outer edge to outer edge across the entire top of the enclosure. It can be hanging over the edge a little for this part - you can always trim it later. It needs to lay fully flat to each outer edge so that the staples can get a good grip.
  3. Using the staple gun, staple one side fully down along the top edge of the gate. Staple from the top down along the entire edge. I found it best to make the staples go perpendicular (crosswise) to the edge I was working on. Some pieces of the gate may chip off during the stapling. No big deal. You will cover this with duct tape later.
  4. Once the first edge is secure with staples, have your partner gently pull on the fabric to keep it taut while you work on the adjacent two sides. Again, staple perpendicular to the edge you are working on.
  5. Staple the remaining edge the same way.
  6. Using the scissors, trim any excess fabric overlap so that the edge of the fabric is flush with the edge of the pen. For the corners, cut diagonally to allow the circular joints to poke through.
  7. You will probably notice that all of the sharp staples are poking through the side of the pen. Ouch! You will cover the exterior edges of the staples with duct tape to protect everyone's fingers. You will use two layers of duct tape on each side. 
  8. Starting with the first side, find the bottom lip of the bar that you just stapled through. Tuck the edge of the duct tape under this lip as you tape across the length of the side. The top edge of the tape should just touch the top of the bar. This layer of tape will prevent anyone from accidentally touching the exposed staple prongs.
  9. After the exposed prongs are covered, use another layer of duct tape to cover the top edge of the pen. This will hide the tops of the staples to make the pen look more polished, and the overlap will reinforce the tape hiding the exposed prongs. Line up this edge of the duct tape with the inner edge of the pen. Overlap the previous layer with the outer edge of this layer.
  10. Continue applying duct tape around all four sides. Don't worry about the corners. If the top is taut, the space in the corners won't be big enough for your bun to escape.
That's it! And do you know what's the best thing about the mesh? It's strong enough for my 12 pound cat to use as a hammock. :)

To clean:

The best part of this pen is the ease of cleaning it! Sometimes Peter makes a mess of his food or misses his litter box. I have a special broom and dustpan that is only used to sweep up his messes. I lift up the pen, sweep up the mess, wipe down the chair mat with paper towel and natural cleaner, and he's good to go!

Inspiration:

Here are some sites that I used for inspiration. Perhaps they can inspire you, too!

Rabbit accessories:

The most annoying thing I found about this enclosure was allowing access to fresh hay, since you can't really attach a good hay hopper to it well. I just put the hay in a cardboard box within the enclosure. I really like Farmer Dave's timothy hay cubes because they cut down on the dust and pieces of hay that escape the pen. Plus they're hard, so Peter is able to grind down his teeth as he gnaws them.

For a hideaway, I use the Ware Rabbit Den. Peter is a bigger boy, and he needs the space.

That's it! If you have any questions, please post in the comments below.


6 comments:

  1. Quite ingenious of you. I'm thinking about spinning that wonderful fur into large skeins of angora yarn to knit with.

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  2. Actually, I do that too! Every 90 days, Peter gets a haircut and I spin the fur on my homemade spinning wheel! (I'll post about the wheel in an upcoming blog.)

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  3. Very ingenious!! I'd love to see Peter's yarn.

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  4. Looks like a great, safe place for Peter to be once in a while.

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  5. Great job! I can tell you are a great rabbit owner...you love your rabbit. :-)
    We have rabbits too. We have 3, Rex, Fuzz Buzz and Balin.
    Carla from The River

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  6. Nice rabbit pen and what a cute rabbit!

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