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Options for warming a rabbit hutch

Markbnj

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Odd question, I know. I inherited the care of a couple of rabbits from my eldest daughter, whose interest in them evaporated. She had them in her room, and they smelled and have never been trained in any way (I've read you can do that, but I don't know personally). I moved them outside to a small wooden hutch last spring, and they have been pretty much thriving in it. We clean it out weekly and let them out to run around as often as we can.

So now winter is coming on and we're going to be getting down to overnight lows in the 20's this week. The hutch has an enclosed box-like area made of, oh, maybe 1/2" ply with some framing and siding, and an angled asphalt shingle roof. I place wood shavings in there to insulate them from the floor, but I am concerned that it won't be enough. Rabbit burrows are usually underground, at a more constant and amenable temperature. We may see temps here as low as 10F for a few days over the winter, and nighttime temps at 0F or below are not unknown.

So I've been trying to think of some reasonable options for heating the box area of the hutch. Nothing can go inside because they'd chew the shit out of it. I don't want to tarp the whole thing and run a greenhouse heater because they won't get any air or sunshine and it would be a pain to set up and take down (and maybe expensive, I don't know).

I remembered yesterday I have a six foot length of pipe warmer in the shop. Basically this stuff:

http://www.mscdirect.com/product/31736200?src=pla&008=-99&007=Search&pcrid=15557577904&006=15557577904&005=21882504424&004=4409695744&002=2167139&mkwid=sJXegN7a0|dc&cid=PLA-Google-PLA+-+Test_sJXegN7a0_PLA__15557577904_c_S&026=-99&025=c

The orange part with the black button is a thermostat. I believe they are set to turn on at 38F. I don't know how warm they get but I would expect... 50F or so? Whatever is required to keep the pipe from freezing would be what I would expect.

What do you guys think about coiling this on the underside of the hutch floor, maybe with the thermostat mounted against the plywood, so if the floor gets to 38F it turns on?

Any other ideas?
 

skyking

Lifer
Nov 21, 2001
19,686
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That's OK, and hanging an incandescent light bulb up out of reach provides heat too.
 

lxskllr

No Lifer
Nov 30, 2004
54,882
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Seconding the light bulb idea. It's warm, and relatively cheap to operate. Put it in a tin can to prevent access.
 

waggy

No Lifer
Dec 14, 2000
68,145
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Seconding the light bulb idea. It's warm, and relatively cheap to operate. Put it in a tin can to prevent access.
You can find something like


and suspend it over a part of the cage. This is what we did with chickens.
 

Markbnj

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Yeah the roast idea has passed through my mind... but they are very skinny rabbits.

The thing about the lightbulb idea is that the hutch isn't very tall inside. There might be enough room up in the corner. I'll have to take a look. But at the least it would mean cutting through the exterior so that I could get power to the bulb w/o running the cable inside where they can get to it. I could seal it up. Definitely worth thinking about.

Any other thoughts specifically about the pipe-warmer idea? Thing I like about that is no cutting. I'd mount it to the bottom of the hutch floor using thin brackets with 1/4" screws.

Edit: waggy, are those cages in a barn or something? I would have to hang that over the hutch, which is just sitting behind the house (right outside my office window, actually). I'm not sure I want an open light burning out there all night.
 
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AMCRambler

Diamond Member
Jan 23, 2001
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My dad built a box with a light bulb in it for my rabbit. He put the light bulb at the bottom of the box in a corner and put a divider in there that didn't quite go all the way to the ceiling, maybe about 3 inch gap so the heat from the bulb would still be able to rise over the divider. I think he covered the divider in some thin sheet metal so it would reflect the heat better. You gotta have something between them and the bulb because we tried just hanging a drop light on the side of the cage and he backed his ass up to it so close that he burnt the fur on his rear end. Nice thing about the light bulb is you can up the wattage for more heat. I think we had a 60 watt or a 75 in there depending how cold it got.

In addition to that we had some astro turf that we would pull down around the outside of the cage so that the air wasn't blowing directly in. The bottom was still open cuz he's gotta poop of course but that worked very well for the cold NY winters. He lived to be 8 years old. Ended up the heat is what got him one summer. Used to stick frozen soda bottles in there to keep him cool but a fur coat and 95+ degrees just don't go well.
 

unokitty

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Jan 5, 2012
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Odd question, I know.

What do you guys think about coiling this on the underside of the hutch floor, maybe with the thermostat mounted against the plywood, so if the floor gets to 38F it turns on?

Any other ideas?


Don't know how much you want to spend, but my cats have several electric sleep rings from K & H. Each has done what it was supposed to do. Each has lasted several years.

While my cats sleep indoors, K & H also makes outdoor products.
Outdoor Heated Cat Beds, Pads, & Bowls

Best of luck,
Uno
 

Markbnj

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Thanks for the ideas. The electric pad and the heated ring are intriguing. The pad might work if it mounts underneath the floor. Anything that has to be inside the box has to be unchewable. Have the same concern with the heated rings, plus rabbits are non-stop producers of waste, and not in the least discriminating about where they leave it.
 

Thump553

Lifer
Jun 2, 2000
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We raised rabbits in southern New England, same temperature range you describe, maybe even a bit lower. I don't think you need lightbulbs or electric heaters, we never had them. I'd worry about the fire/electrocution risk (rabbits chew a lot). Give them a relativelysmall box (3' by 3' by 3' was fine for two very large rabbits) with lots of chips, straw or hay and access for an exterior run (rabbits crap all the time and you don't want that in the box) and you should be fine.
 

Markbnj

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We raised rabbits in southern New England, same temperature range you describe, maybe even a bit lower. I don't think you need lightbulbs or electric heaters, we never had them. I'd worry about the fire/electrocution risk (rabbits chew a lot). Give them a relativelysmall box (3' by 3' by 3' was fine for two very large rabbits) with lots of chips, straw or hay and access for an exterior run (rabbits crap all the time and you don't want that in the box) and you should be fine.
Interesting. I'm evaluating it from a human perspective, unavoidably, and even though I realize they are outdoor animals, I automatically assume I should get them some heat. Maybe they're more durable than I think.

They are smallish rabbits, the box is not as large as the one you describe. It's actually a single hutch but it is larger than what they had in the cage in my daughter's room, I'm sad to say. It does have a wire run, but for whatever reason they crap everywhere. They also kick the wood shavings out of the boxed area.
 

Red Squirrel

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May 24, 2003
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Only 20's? I would just use a couple 100w bulbs out of reach wrapped in foil to block the light, with a thermostat on the other end of the hutch. If it's half decently insulated it will barely turn on.
 

DrPizza

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I don't think 0 overnight is really that bad for rabbits - provide plenty of straw in a small enclosed area & they'll bed down in it.
 

Markbnj

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I don't think 0 overnight is really that bad for rabbits - provide plenty of straw in a small enclosed area & they'll bed down in it.
Do you think straw is better for bedding than pine shavings? The problem with these guys and bedding is that they kick a lot of it out into the wire run portion of the hutch, and most of that falls through to the ground. They also urinate in the box, and wet bedding will probably lose a lot of insulating ability. I've read that they shouldn't be doing that, but I am not sure how to stop it.
 
Jun 19, 2004
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From the recipe: ... allspice, juniper berries, cloves.

Leave it to the Germans to turn savory meat into a fruitcake. All three of these flavors fall more or less into the "happy to never taste again" category for me. Possible exceptions are an occasional gin and tonic, and mulled cider.
Some of the best BBQ rubs I've ever tasted have those ingredients. You have to open your mind to the possibilities.
 

NetWareHead

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Aug 10, 2002
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I don't think 0 overnight is really that bad for rabbits - provide plenty of straw in a small enclosed area & they'll bed down in it.
This. We used to raise rabbits and never provided a heat source. We did provide extra bedding, straw etc... when the weather got colder. The rabbits all huddled together and provided their own warmth. You do need to provide plenty of food since that is what fuels their metabolism and provides heat. You will have to check the water once or twice daily. When it is that cold, water supply may freeze. It also depends on your cage design. Our cages were designed one half with a tight chicken wire mesh floor walls and ceiling and the other half was enclosed on all sides, floor and ceiling with plywood. My dad did at one point staple some extra home insulation to the exteriors of the plywood sides of the cage during a particular cold spell.
 

Markbnj

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This. We used to raise rabbits and never provided a heat source. We did provide extra bedding, straw etc... when the weather got colder. The rabbits all huddled together and provided their own warmth. You do need to provide plenty of food since that is what fuels their metabolism and provides heat. You will have to check the water once or twice daily. When it is that cold, water supply may freeze. It also depends on your cage design. Our cages were designed one half with a tight chicken wire mesh floor walls and ceiling and the other half was enclosed on all sides, floor and ceiling with plywood. My dad did at one point staple some extra home insulation to the exteriors of the plywood sides of the cage during a particular cold spell.
The cages sound very similar to what we have. There won't be any problem with food supply, although I have also been worried about the water supply. It's one of those hanging bottles with a metal tube they sip from. There's no way it won't freeze. I'll come up with some way to insulate or heat it, or just bring it in and thaw it out.
 

Markbnj

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Some of the best BBQ rubs I've ever tasted have those ingredients. You have to open your mind to the possibilities.
That's true. I'm sure those flavors show up in a lot of sauces, probably some I have in my fridge. But I can't really _identify_ those flavors in the sauces. By themselves they are usually cringe-inducing.
 

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