The other extreme of caring for a house rabbit is letting it run loose in the house, eat fresh vegetables with scientifically balanced dry mix and giving it unlimited attention. Not so easy!
I remember the day I came home from work. Stella came running to get her head rubbing fix. I picked her up and sat in front of the TV. Something was wrong. The sound system was shredded. I decided to surf the web. The modem supply cord was cut in two places.
Since that day, we kept Stella in a back room. Her projects included digging holes in the wall (new instructable: how to dig a hole in the wall) and shredding anything we absent mindedly decide to put in that room, including two very expensive mattresses.
Finally, I saw on the web a caging system that looked cool. It was a labyrinth of wire mesh cages assembled together to make a relatively large playing area for rabbits. Problem: it is not available in Israel. So, after finishing a basic wood working class, I decided to build a cage. The goal was to give Stella a big enough playing ground without compromising our apartment's free area and without letting her cause any more damage.
Step 1: Buying the Bars
Since the cage doors' measurements are the anchor of this project, go shopping before sitting down to the drawing board.
Step 2: Plan the Cabinet
After deciding on material and knowing size of sheet (normally 1.22x2.44 metres or 4x8 feet) and thickness (17-19mm) you can plan the cutting for the wood store. Here they're happy to cut it for you. But there's a catch: you can only get rectangles. If you can get a worker in such store to cut diagonals for you, you're lucky. I had to use my jigsaw to remove the corners of the shelves.
The design is simply a closet with shelves that don't span the entire width of the closet. The "missing" edges create steps that allow the rabbit to jump from level to level. When Stella stands under a hole, she can stretch upwards and when she's under a shelf, she gets the tunnel effect that makes her feel safe and at home.
Some measurements from my cage (metric figures are accurate):
Height: 160cm 5'3" total, 120cm 3'11" cage itself
Depth: 60cm 2ft
4 shelves divide the inner cage equidistantly to 5 levels.
The diagonals are not necessary. They just make the step wider for the rabbit and a little more aesthetic.
The copper foil you see in the picture was intended to keep the rabbit from chewing the edges of the shelves. The joke is on me. Now the copper is in tatters but the shelves are intact.
Get your cutting plan ready and give it to the wood store.
Step 3: Assemble the Parts
After the cage is up, take it apart and apply varnish. Use water based acrylic varnish. It'll protect the wood from water puddles and other organic materials. The water base is essential because (for the last time) rabbits chew and you don't want the precious creature feeding on something based on acetone or turpentine. Stella, for some reason, doesn't like chewing on the cage walls. Can anyone offer an explanation? She did chew some varnished furniture legs before.
The connectors and varnish may vary on location. Blum connectors are cheap and popular here. But if you can't find them where you live, just consult the local hardware store expert.
Step 4: Mount the Doors
I would love to get ideas for hinges and latches. The regular hinges don't fit wire mesh shelves pretending to be rabbit cage doors.
Step 5: Populate the Palace
1. I built this cage for our one and only Stella, who's almost 3 years old and been living with people only for almost her entire life. We don't want to risk getting her a buddy rabbit because she is hot headed and seems to be content with us. I think a cage this size can easily host two more rabbits if you have them.
2. The extra height I gave the cage proved to be a good idea. We saved the storage room underneath the cage, which is necessary in typical Jerusalem apartments.
3. Final touch: I used a cutter to open windows in the mesh where Stella likes to sit. This enables me to pet her head (she loves that) almost every time I pass by her cage.
This is Stella's new location. Rosie the dog loves Stella but Stella prefers watching the dog from above. Kids, can you spot the little bunny in the picture?
Step 6: Our New Home in America
We didn't leave our pets behind. Rosie and Stella are happy living in Colorado, where dogs have unlimited walking and running around space and rabbits have huge carpeted houses to explore.
The cage was left in Jerusalem. I think it is going to serve as my sister's ferret's new home. We'll see. Stella had to spend the first 3 months in a wire mesh cage that was ready for her when we landed. It was tiny in comparison to the huge cage she had in "the old country". But she also had a huge carpet to explore every other night.
The new house is big enough to have a proper wood shop (double car garage, it's the american way...). So naturally I made a practice run on my new 110v, Inch based, american power tools building a new cage for Stella. It was made for the living room so had to resemble a piece of furniture, not a makeshift plywood box. I got to practice "frame and panel" cabinet making techniques on my rabbit's expense. I made my mistakes and learned some valuable lessons building this one. Stella doesn't complain. Here's the result.