Rabbit Cottage From a Hay Box




Introduction: Rabbit Cottage From a Hay Box

Most rabbits love playing in multi-level rabbit cottages because they get to explore each level and run through the openings. Multi-level rabbit cottages retail for about $25, which is pretty pricy given that they typically chew threw them in a few months.

If you have a rabbit, then you know that eat a lot of timothy hay. To save on cost, I buy timothy hay in bulk in 50lb boxes. Most pet supply stores that sell Oxbow products will let you to special order a 50lb box for around $60, but you can also buy alternative brands from Amazon for a bit more $$:


This instructable will show you how to make a rabbit cottage by reusing the box that comes with your 50lbs of timothy hay or any 18"x24"x24" box. An 18"x18"x24" box will also work and you can skip a few steps.

Step 1: What You'll Need

You will need:

  • An 18"x24"x24" or 18"x18"x24" box
  • Tape*
  • Nontoxic markers (like Crayola) or pencil
  • Glue-gun + glue or nontoxic school glue (like Elmer's) + plenty of binder clips*
  • Utility knife
  • Scissors
  • Ruler or tape measure + straight edge
  • Cutting mat
  • Printer (optional)
  • Rabbit

*It's not safe for rabbits to ingest tape or glue-gun glue, however we'll only be using this to glue cardboard together into double-layers for the cottage floor. It's unlikely a rabbit will chew all the way through, but if you're rabbit is a persistent chewer, you may want to use a paper-based tape (like masking tape) and non-toxic school glue like Elmer's. If you use Elmer's glue, you'll need let the glue set overnight and use binder clips to hold the cardboard in place while it dries.

Step 2: Print Stencils

If you have a printer, print the attached stencils.pdf. Otherwise, use overview.pdf for reference and measurements.

For the Door 1–4 Stencil, cut the measuring tabs and tape them to top of the door stencil such that the dashed lines overlap exactly.

Step 3: Remove Tape & Labels From Box

It's unsafe for rabbits to ingest plastic and can cause serious harm to their digestive system. Since this box is going to be heavily chewed on, tear off any leftover packaging tape, stickers or labels from the box.

Step 4: Remove Box Flaps

Cut away the flaps from the top & bottom of the box.

Save these pieces to construct the floors for the cottage.

Tip: Place the cutting mat between the box layers to not accidentally cut through to the other side. Use a straight edge to get an even cottage bottom and top.

Step 5: Resize Box (A) – Cut Box Open

Locate the box’s seem. This will be where the cardboard overlaps for approximately 1”. Cut along the outside of the seem, leaving 1" of excess flap.

Step 6: Resize Box (B) – Flip Box Up-Side-Down

Lay the panels out flat with printed side up and the top of the box facing down (such that the handles are on the bottom).

This ensures that

  1. The handles will be removed when the doors are cut out.
  2. The printed side (and all of your markings) will be inside of the cottage and out of sight.

Step 7: Resize Box (C) – Measure & Cut Panel 3

Draw vertical lines on panel 3 with the following measurements. Cut each of these with a utility knife.

  • 18" from the right edge.
  • 1½" from the left edge.

Save the leftover piece of cardboard. This will be used later when making the floors.

Tip: To get the most accurate measurements, measure from the folded panel. For the first measurement, fold panel 4 underneath. For the second measurement, fold panel 2 underneath.

Step 8: Resize Box (D) – Measure & Cut Panel 1

Draw vertical lines on panel 1 with the following measurements. Very lightly score the first line with the utility knife and cut the second line.

  • 18" from the right edge. Lightly score this line but do not cut.
  • 3" from the that line. Cut this line.

Step 9: Resize Box (E) – Glue Panels Together

Apply glue to the non-printed side of the Inner Flap and glue it to the edge of Panel 3.

For glue gun:

  • To prevent a crooked seem, stand the box pieces up right with their edges on the floor.
  • Press the pieces together until the glue sets.

For school glue:

  • Smear glue along the non-printed side of the flap. Be sure to cover the entire flap.
  • To prevent a crooked seem, stand the box pieces up right with their edges on the floor.
  • Press the pieces together and use binder clips on the top & bottom to keep the flap in place. Be sure that the box pieces are even when standing on end until they're clipped in place.
  • Once the pieces are clipped together, lay it flat on the floor and weight down the flap with something heavy.
  • Wait approximately an hour for the glue to set before continuing to the next step. While you wait, you can skip ahead to making the floor pieces (step 17).

Step 10: Cut Vertical Tabs

  1. Mark & cut tabs in the Left Tab Panel.
    • Tabs should be 1" from the outer edge of the panel, 3" from the top & bottom edges of the panel, and 4" in width.
  2. Lightly score tabs so they bend easily.
  3. Mark & cut tabs in the Right Tab Panel.
    • Tabs should be 1" in height, 3” from the top & bottom edges of the panel, and 4" in width.
  4. Use scissors to give the tabs rounded corners so they insert into the slots easily.

Step 11: Mark Vertical Tab Slots

  1. Bend the Left Panel at the scored 3" line. It's important to do this before cutting the tab slots.
  2. Mark tab slots on Panel 4.
    • Tab slots should be against the right edge of the panel, 3" from the top & bottom edges, and 4" in height, and ¼" wide.
  3. Mark tab slots on Panel 4.
    • Tab slots should be 2" from the right edge of the panel, 3" from the top & bottom edges, and 4" in height, and ¼" wide.

Step 12: Mark Floor Tab Slots

  1. Draw lines 4" from top & 10" from bottom of box.
  2. For each panel, mark horizontal tabs slots on the lines from step 1.
    • Tabs should be 3" from the edge of the panel, 4" in width and roughly ¼" in height.
    • Only mark horizontal tab slots indicated in the image.
  3. Use the Ramp Slot Template Guide to mark slots 1a & 2c for panels 1 & 2.

Note: If you don't have a printer, use the measurements in overview.pdf as a guide.

Step 13: Mark Doors

  1. Using the door template, trace doors 1-4.
    • For doors 1 & 2: align the bottom tab of the template to the bottom edge of the panel.
    • For doors 3 & 4: align the top tab to the line marked at the top of the panels.
  2. Using the marks in the center of the template as guide, draw a vertical line down the middle of door 4.
  3. Mark the right side of door 1 & both sides of door 4 as “fold” or used a dashed line to remember not to cut all the way through.
  4. Optional. Mark windows for doors 1 & 4. Tip: Use a pin to punch through the template and mark the corners of each window.
  5. Trace door 5 onto panel 4 using the template.
    • For the left half of the door, align the bottom tab of the template to the bottom edge of the panel and the left tab of the template with the left edge of the panel. Flip the template over and repeat for the right half of the door.

Step 14: Optional – Cut Castle Notches

To turn the cottage into a castle, cut out 2"x1" notches at the top of each panel using the following dimensions.

Step 15: Cut Out Shapes

Cut out the marked shapes on the box. It's important to do it in the following order so the box doesn't lose structural integrity as you cut.

  1. Cut out tab slots.
  2. Cut out doors. For doors 1 & 4, lightly score the edges of the door that should fold & push out doors.
  3. Push open doors 1 & 4.
  4. Optional. After pushing out doors 1 & 4, cut windows out of doors.

Step 16: Patch Handle

One of the box handles should have been removed when cutting out door #5, however half of the second handle will partially overlap with door #2. Use masking tape to tape this door handle down on the printed side of the box. Alternatively, you can use glue and cover it with a small piece of brown paper.

Do not use plastic tape. This part of the cottage will be chewed on by bunnies, so only use paper-based tape or glue + paper.

Step 17: Floor (A) – Cut Two 2x18" Strips

Using the leftover piece of cardboard from resizing the box (4 1/2" x 24"), cut into two 2x18" pieces.

Step 18: Floor (B) – Cut Two 8x9" Rectangles

Using the short leftover flap (9"x18"), cut two 8" wide pieces, resulting in 8x9" rectangles.

If some of the short flaps are bent, reserve the two flattest pieces for later. Try to cut two 8" rectangles that are flat as possible from the two remaining pieces.

Step 19: Floor (C) – Cut Half of Floor

Use long leftover flap (24" x 9"). With the printed side facing up, measure and draw lines:

  • 8" from the factory-cut edge
  • 1" from the left edge
  • 19" from the left edge
  • 20" from the left edge (cut this line)

Note that if the right side of the cardboard is more bent, you can measure from the right side instead to use the flattest part.

Mark & cut tabs:

  • Left & right tabs should be 1" from top & 4" high.
  • Bottom tabs should be 4" from left & right edges & 4" wide.
  • Use scissors to give tabs rounded corners.

Step 20: Floor (D) – Cut Floor Ramp

Use another long leftover flap (24" x 9"). With the printed side facing up, measure and draw lines:

  • 8" from the factory-cut edge.
  • 11" from the left edge. Mark this line as “fold” (this piece will be the ramp).
  • 19" from the left edge.
  • 20" from the left edge.

Note that if the right side of the cardboard is more bent, you can move the measurements over to the right by 4" (note that this piece is not symmetrical).

Mark & cut tabs in second piece.

  • Right tab should be 1" from top & 4" high.
  • Bottom tabs should be 4" from left & right edges & 4" wide.
  • Use scissors to give tabs rounded corners.

Step 21: Floor (E) – Tape Floor Pieces in Place

Align cut flaps, printed side up, with 2" strip in the middle. Tape pieces together, leaving the ramp portion untaped.

Step 22: Floor (F) – Glue Floor Together

  1. Use a short leftover flap (18" x 9") and apply glue to the printed side.
    • Glue it to half of the floor piece such that it overlaps with the 2" strip.
    • The printed sides of both pieces should be glued together.
  2. Use the 9" x 8" pieces you previously cut and apply glue to the printed side.
    • Glue it to the remaining floor piece, avoiding the ramp.
    • The printed sides of both pieces should be glued together.
  3. After the glue is set, trim any excess cardboard that is sticking out from the glued pieces.

If you're using school glue:

  1. Apply glue around the edges and generously in the center of each piece.
  2. Smear the glue so it covers the edge of the pieces.
  3. Clip the pieces around the edges to keep it in place.
  4. Weight the pieces down with something heavy.
  5. Let the glue set overnight.

Step 23: Second Floor

Repeat Floor Steps C – F (19 – 22) to make the floor for the 3rd story.

Step 24: Optional – Add Ramp Ridges

To add some extra grip to the ramp, cut out 10 small strips of cardboard approximately 7" x ½” and glue 5 of them on the top of each ramp.

Step 25: Assemble Cottage

The box will be turned in-side-out when putting the cottage together so that the printed side with all of the markings is on the inside.

  1. Starting from panel 1, insert the floor into the slots, with the side of the ramp in the diagonal slots. Continue folding box until panels 2, 3, & 4 have the floor inserted in their tabs.
  2. Insert panel 4 tabs into panel 1.
  3. Fold panel 1 tabs around and insert into panel 3.

Step 26: Optional – Glue in Place

To make the box more sturdy and permanent, fold the floor tabs down and glue them in place. Likewise, fold the side tabs down and glue into place.

Step 27: Decorate

Using a non-toxic marker, decorate the outside of the cottage or castle. Be creative!

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    Reply 4 years ago

    Thank you! Unfortunately the cardboard contest is only open to new instructables. But maybe I’ll add one for making rabbit chew toys.

    Miriam Evans
    Miriam Evans

    Reply 4 years ago

    Your welcome. I didn’t know about that. Sorry.


    5 years ago

    Can you keep a rabbit in a house or do they have to live outside?My mom said that they will stink up the house is that true?I have a white and brown lion head rabbit I love him with all my heart but I want him to be warm for this winter.


    Reply 5 years ago

    If your mom won't allow you to bring your rabbit indoors in the winter then, at a minimum, you should him a heater. I have this heater for my rabbits that I use in the house when it gets chilly, but it's rated to work outdoors. Be sure to also get the cover or it could be too slick for him to stand on.



    Reply 5 years ago

    I don't recommend keeping your rabbit outdoors, and most rabbit rescue groups agree. Domestic rabbits need to live in a temperature range of 60–80ºF and even in the warmest places (I live in California), it can get too cold in the winter. A rabbit can very easily die from heat exhaustion or freeze to death in extreme temperatures. Additionally, rabbits who live outside have shorter life spans because they're far more likely to contract a deadly disease from fleas or ticks. Most rabbits who live in hutches outside are often raised for meat, where their owner isn't concerned if they don't have a long happy life. A well cared for healthy rabbit will live between 8–10 years.

    Companion rabbits should indoors in pens with daily exercise time outside their pen or be free range within the house (like a cat) and use a litterbox. Rabbits are very easy to litterbox train and most will automatically start using their litterbox on their own after they've been spayed or neutered. If you clean their litterbox every 1-2 days, you won't smell it. You should use paper-based litter (like Yesterday's News) and can purchase some that has baking soda included, which also helps. Rabbits should not be kept in cages because they need lots of space to run and play and wire-bottom cages can damage their feet. My rabbits live in a pen in my living room and are very good about using their litterboxes and they only start to smell if I don't clean their litterbox for multiple days in a row.

    Spaying or neutering your rabbit makes a huge difference in litterbox training and also in preventing bad behavior like chewing on furniture when indoors. Additionally, rabbits who haven't been spayed or neutered yet can sometimes have stronger-smelling scent glands, which is another reason to spay or neuter your rabbit. Female rabbits who aren't spayed are also 80% likely to contract uterine cancer before they're 4 years old, so if you have a female rabbit who's unspayed I highly recommend looking into spay services :-)

    The House Rabbit Society has great tips on how to setup an indoor living area for your rabbits and litterbox training. They also sometimes offer free spay/neuter services and have chapters all over the US.

    I also recommend the Facebook page & YouTube channel for Lennon the Bunny, where Lennon's owner shows tips on caring for an indoor rabbit:

    I hope these resources help!


    5 years ago

    That's adorable! Your bunny seems to like it. :) Has he tried to chew on it at all?


    Reply 5 years ago

    My bunny's not much of a chewer, so hasn't given it more than a couple nibbles. I made one of these for our local animal shelter (where I volunteer) and the bunnies there chewed it quite a bit. They particularly like to chew on the doors that have windows because the cardboard is in short pieces.

    We had 4-5 rabbits playing with it for 3 hours a day and it lasted about 3 months before it had to be retired.


    Reply 5 years ago

    Note that although the shelter bunnies chewed on the cottage a lot, they didn't chew through any of the places that had been glue-gunned because those are located underneath long flat pieces and away from chewable edges.