Last updated on November 5th, 2018 at 12:15 pm
A nesting box is must-have items for does that are about to kindle (have babies) or outdoor bunnies (as a rabbit sleeping box) since it will help protect them for cold drafts and biting cold winter weather.
Once your kits have been born, this kindling box will help secure and keep your kitten warm. If you do not have one, it is easy for these kits that are yet to grow enough fur to get cold and be separated from their mother.
Making the front entry area slightly lower will ensure that your rabbit does not accidentally injure its kits as it jumps in and out of it.
Also, ensure this box has a roof to help keep your kits warm by minimizing heat loss. However, most people opt for a partial roof.
When should you put a nest box in a rabbit cage
It is recommended that you place it when your doe is about 28 days pregnant or three days before kindling. Setting it too early may encourage the doe to mess with the bedding making the hutch untidy.
Note that when they are about to give birth, most bunnies have a personality shift from their usual sweet-natured temperament to some aggression, hiding, hoarding, collecting papers, tufts of her fur and so on.
When to remove rabbit nest box
After kindling, your doe will spend most of its time outside the nesting box. It will only hop inside it during feeding time then out, twice a day.
Azrabbits.com recommends that “after three weeks the kits should be hopping in and out of the box often and you can safely remove the nest box from the cage.”
Wooden, Plastic or Metal rabbit nesting box?
On material of construction, you have the option of going for a wooden, plastic or metallic one. Let us look at each.
Wooden nesting boxes are the most natural feeling and they will keep your doe and kits warm. They often have a lower front entry point to allow your bunny to hop in and out of the nest and easily
Although they are the most recommended ones, cleaning and sanitizing them is not easy.
Always ensure they are made from untreated wood that is safe since your bunnies will be chewing it from time to time. You will need to replace it after some time. Avoid softwoods including pine and cedar as they are harmful to your rabbits, warms Rabbit.org.
The bottom of a wooden bunny nesting box should be made of either a pegboard or a 1/4″ x 1/4″ hardware cloth which is a wire to allow urine to seep through it keeping the bedding drier and get rid of the noxious ammonia smell in urine.
A pegboard will also help keep your kits cooler in hot summers.
Those made from plastic may overcome the sanitizing and cleaning challenges that the wooden ones have.
They come in various designs. Repurposing a plastic littering box can create a suitable nesting place for your rabbits.
The metallic ones are durable, sturdy, easy to sanitize and clean. On the other hand, they are colder and may not keep your kittens very warm. They come in various designs with some having a partial roof.
They can also be made from a high quality galvanized welded wire. It should be closely meshed to avoid trapping the baby’s feet or falling through it.
Although it is easier to clean and sanitize, it might not be able to keep a lot of warm intact.
Drop-down nest boxes rabbits
You can go for this type which hangs slightly below the cage surface. They are mainly made from wire or metal but can be made from other materials.
Rabbit nest box dimensions
According to the University of Nebraska Lincoln, “the size of your rabbit determines the size of your nesting box. The rabbit must be able to move around in the box; it should be a few inches wider and longer than the mom.” Therefore, you need to consider the size of your bunny.
For instance, typical dimensions for meat rabbits such as Californian, Americans, New Zealand White is 18″ length, 10″ wide and a depth of 8″.
If you want to go for designs that have a higher backside and partial roof, the front can be 6″ and the backside 10″. We will discuss more in detail when we look at how to make a homemade nesting box.
Small to medium size ones can have dimensions of 14″ in length, 9″ in width, the lower entry place can be 5″ high and the back higher side 9″ high.
Large rabbit nesting boxes can be 20″ long, 10″ wide with the entry side being 7″ and the higher backside being 12″.
Homemade rabbit nesting box – DIY
Instead of buying these kindling boxes, you can make one at home. Here are diagrams and a DIY rabbit nest box steps to follow.
In our DIY, we will use dimensions of 18″x 10″ and 8″ in length, width, and depth respectively with a partial roof. The thickness of the wood we will use is ¾” thick and will use a pegboard at the bottom.
Step 1: Cut all the necessary pieces in the dimensions shown below. The pegboard will be slightly longer by half an inch to give you a place to hold while sliding it out for cleaning.
Step 2: Make a groove at about 0.5 inches from the bottom side of the sides, back and front pieces for sliding in and out the pegboard. The slot should be large enough to allow the pegboard slide in and out but not so big that it will it will easily fall off.
Step 3: Join it together using screws one on each corner. The front part should be placed just above the groove to allow the pegboard to slide in and out.
Step 4: Do not paint or apply vanish. Just leave it that way since rabbits will be chewing it from time to time.
If you are using hardware cloth (wire), you do not need to make the grooves. Instead, you need to mount it from the bottom side.
To avoid it being tossed around, you can put some hooks to attach it at a specific position in your cage or hutch that you prefer.
You can follow the same procedure to make a rabbit nesting box out of cardboard. However, do not opt for grooves. Just fix the pegboard on the bottom or your hardware cloth.
For the bedding, you can go for hardwood shavings about 1-2 inches deep and a good brand of hay such as Timothy. Wood shavings together with the mother’s fur will provide excellent insulation against cold.
Hay will work both as food as well as enable the doe to build a hole inside the nest when it nears kindling.
Using your fist, make a small burrow on the bedding but not deep enough to reach the wood shavings. This is not mandatory since the doe can still burrow one on its own.
A rabbit’s box for nesting can be a breeding ground for bacteria that might cause infections. Ensure you clean it after 3 to 7 days by removing the bedding except for fur if it is dry and replacing them with dry ones. This might be done often for large rabbit sizes and older kits.
After the kits have grown, thoroughly clean the box before you disinfect it with a mild disinfectant or bleach solution before keeping it. Let each of your does use their own box and do not mix them.
Rabbit nesting box for sale
Petco.com, Amazon.com, eBay.com, among other websites will give you a wide variety. A few of the good ones we noted include:
- Ware Manufacturing Ware Wooden Nest Box for Chickens & Rabbits
- KW Cages have a metallic one that comes in 5 sizes to for different rabbit sizes (extra-small dwarfs, dwarf, small, standard, and giant rabbits).
- Ware Manufacturing Ware Wooden Nest Box for Chickens & Rabbits
- Farm Innovators Model 3800 Plastic Nesting Box