Tuesday, September 24, 2013

A House for Lola, aka Rabbit Cage House Part D'oh

Most of my rabbits do just fine in their cages. They eat a lot, sleep a lot, and crap a lot. Sometimes I let them run around in the yard, but for the most part they're cage bunnies and they're ok with that.

And then there's Lola.

Lola is a 4 year old Californian who came to me with the worst case of wire sores I'd ever seen. The damage had gone far beyond simple raw spots. Her hocks and paws had ulcers the size of silver dollars. Even on a poly resting mat, her feet were painful for her, and if she got on the wire she would actually squeal and scream. On grass she would draw her hind legs up under her in order to rest on the back of her thighs instead of her poor destroyed feet. You can see her doing that in this photo.

Since she was in no shape to breed, and showed zero interest in digging, I gave Lola the run of a 20'x20' private yard. She had deep Bermuda to run in, along with an Elm tree and a huge dog house that my now deceased Pyrenees had no more use for. Bunny heaven, in other words. I tried giving her a buddy to keep her company, but between the buddy's attempts to dig to China and Lola's absolute bottom of the pecking order condition, it came to pass that she had the yard all to herself.

That was back in May. It's now almost October, and the temperatures are dropping. Since Lola's yard is not very convenient to get to when there are 5 ft snow drifts going on, it's time to move her over with the rest of the buns so it's easy to care for her during the winter. Unfortunately the sores on her feet never fully recovered, and while she's comfortable on the grass now there's no fur to protect her should I put her back on wire.

Which of course I'm not going to do. Instead I am going to do what a smart, business minded meat rabbit producer does when faced with an unproductive animal that costs more money than it's worth.

I'm going to build her a special hutch that will take twice as much work to stay clean, all so she can be comfortable. Because that's how us smart, business minded meat rabbit producers roll.

What can I say? I go outside and Lola runs to me to be picked up. While most of my rabbits barely tolerate being held, Lola goes limp in my arms and loves being carried around like a rag doll. That probably has more to do with the fact that her feet bother her than from any love for me, but I'll pretend it's affection and call it a day.

Here's the frame for Lola's soon to be new home. I'd originally built it to hang cages in, because why would I want to just ram a pipe through the top edges and hang the pipe on a frame when I can spend hours building a cage to hold a cage? Yeah... hindsight not my friend this week. You can see this getting built in all its haphazard glory on this earlier post.

First I'll pull the cage out, then install a wooden plank floor. The floor planks will be mounted in a way that I can easily lift one or two out to allow the dirty shavings to fall to a tote that I'll stick underneath. 

And there's my floor. 

There's a brace running along the front and rear sides, and the two end slats screw into it. The rest are floaters, so I can pull one out to easily clean that area or occasionally replace the slat if it happens to be in her favorite pee spot.

And now the back is on. So far this has all come from salvaged pallets. I'll do the sides the same as the back, and then I'm thinking I'll do double doors for the front. That way I'll never have to deal with a rabbit juuuuuust out of grasping fingertip reach. However, after four hours in the unrelenting sun, my fair skin demanded I put down the cordless drill and retreat to the indoors until this evening. 

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