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Enclosure Selection for Your New Rabbit

For those new to raising rabbits, the selection of an enclosure is one of the first and most important decision that will need to be made. A new customer asked for our advice this weekedn. Since we had to go through much trial and error before finding a suitable setup, we thought we would share our experience in case it’s helpful for others.

Enclosure Type

The enclosures that most people are familiar with for rabbits are those that are marketed by the large pet store chains. These chains typically offer two different types of enclosures: wooden hutches and wire cages. Keep in mind that both of these types of enclosures are targeted towards owners of one or very few pet rabbits. As such they are not ideal for those raising a herd of rabbits for meat production. Wooden hutches are expensive and take up a large amount of space. With the solid walls and floors, they offer poor ventilation and also allow waste to accumulate inside the cage. Wood absorbs moisture and therefore can becoming a breeding ground for germs. Keeping this type of enclosure clean requires the use of shavings and frequent cleaning. For the above reasons, wire hutches are more ideal. Most wire hutches sold in pet stores have a plastic tray bottom for the floor. To keep the rabbits from walking in their own waste, wood shavings are used in this tray and needs to be routinely cleaned out and refreshed.

The enclosures that we recommend are those that are manufactured specifically for meat rabbit operations. These enclosures are made up of wire walls and floor. This makes for a very clean environment since all waste leaves the cage immediately through the wire floor. The wire enclosure manufactured for meat rabbit operations are also designed to fit accessories such as feeders, water bottle clips, automatic water nozzle clips, and stands for stacking the cages. As such, we feel these are the best enclosures for owners of meat rabbits.

Enclosure Size

The first wire cages we tried were 24 x 24 inch cages from our local Tractor Supply Company. While these are good starter cages, we soon decided that these would not work out for us in the long run. They were 16 inches in height and a shorter height meant a shorter opening for the door. We found it difficult to get a full grown 10 – 12 pound New Zealand White through the opening.

We later ordered 18 inch tall cages from Bass Equipment and Klubertanz. The 2 extra inch in height makes a big difference so all of our cages purchased since then have been 18 inches tall.

We find that the 24W x 24D x 18H cages are a good size for solitary, mature NZWs. These same cages will not accomodate a mature doe and a nesting box. When our does get close to their kindling date, they are transferred to a larger 36W x 24D x 18H cage. This cage is suitable for the doe and her kits until they are weaned around 5 to 6 weeks of age. We originally purchased 36W x 30D x 18H cages for this purpose and have since decided that we prefer the cages that are 24 inches deep instead. Unless you have very long arms, you will find that the 30 inches deep cages allow the kits to just be out of your arm’s reach when you try to catch them.

Enclosure Doors

Wire cages can be found with two door types: outward or inward opening. While this seemed trivial, we soon learned that there are definitely pros and cons to each type. Inward opening doors seem to be the most common. The cages we purchased from Bass Equipment were of this type and their doors swung inward and upward. The door is then secured by a simple hook fixed at the ceiling of the cage to hold it in the open position. In contrast, the cages we purchased from Klubertanz come standard with outward opening doors which swing out sideways rather than upwards.

From our experience, both door designs work well as intended. However, there are definitely advantages and disadvantages to both and it really comes down to personal preference and how the owner intends to use their cages.

Some people like the doors that open inward because even if you forget to lock them (this always inevitably happens), the door stays in the closed position and decreases the possibility of the rabbit’s escape. We haven’t really seen this as an obvious advantage of the inward opening doors. We have left inward and outward opening doors completely open many times and have never had a rabbit get out. The rabbits just don’t seem interested in leaving their cages.

Depending on how the inward opening doors are secured while open, you may find that they may come unhooked while you are trying to catch an elusive rabbit. This is not an issue with outward opening doors. On the contrary, we have never gotten our shirt caught on the inward swinging doors and routinely find our shirts snagged by the locking hook on the outward swinging doors.

Probably the biggest difference between the two opening design is in terms of the front face real estate of the cage. With a 24 inch wide cage, there’s just about enough space to have a door and a feeder on the front face of the cage. With an inward opening door that swings upwards, your only option for other accessories such as a water bottle or hay rack is on the side of the cage. With the outward opening doors which swings out sideways, we have attached water bottles and hay racks to the the front face of the door with no issues. This has turned out to be a big advantage for us since it allows us to place 24 inch wide cages side by side. As such, for our purposes, we prefer the cages from Klubertanz with the outward opening doors.

Inward opening door:


Outward opening door:


Urine Guards

Contrary to common thinking, many new rabbit owners quickly find out that rabbits do not pee straight down. In fact, it’s much more common for their urine to be directed either directly behind them or at a diagonal slant below and behind them. We have found urine guards to be a rather piss poor (pun intended) solution to this problem. The typical urine guard will deflect urine that the rabbit aims directly behind them if the rabbit is backed up against the urine guard.

One issue we have observed is that rabbits often like to back into a corner to urinate. The urine guards we got from Bass Equipment have a thin slit where two urine guards meet at the corner of the cage. Believe it or not, urine will get through this slit. Other manufactures will sell a corner urine guard which is an urine guard bent to fit into the corner. The premise of this design is that rabbits like to urinate in corners. While this design works great when the rabbit urinates in corners, we know from experience that rabbits will urinate away from the corners also so just having urine guards in the corners is a poor solution.

We also do not understand why both Bass Equipment and Klubertanz sell their cages with urine guards but only have urine guards on the sides and the back of the cage. When we inquired about this, we were told that rabbits tend not to urinate at the front of the cage where their food is. Our experience has proven otherwise. Rabbits will urinate at any and all points around the edge of their cage. Therefore, it’s imperative that urine guards encompass the entire perimeter of the cage. Fortunately, both vendors do let you purchase extra urine guards so that you can block off the front side of the cage. The urine guards are definitely worth the extra money. In the doe cages, the urine guards also serve double duty as “baby savers” to prevent young kits from falling out of the cage through cage wall wires.

Are all urine guards created equal? Absolutely not, our experience has shown us that the ones from Klubertanz are absolutely the best ones to get for several reasons. First, their urine guards are installed via the use of hog rings as compared to Bass Equipment‘s which are secured by tabs which hook onto the cage wire. We have retired all of our urine guards from Bass Equipment because the rabbits are very skilled at displacing them. In contrast, our Klubertanz urine guards have never come loose.

Bass Equipment’s urine guard tabs:


Klubertanz urine guards secured with hog rings:


Secondly, as mentioned earlier, when rabbits urinate in the corner, the urine will leave the cage through the slit that exists where two Bass Equipment urine guards meet at the corner. In contrast, the Klubertanz’s urine guards overlap at the corner. This small extra modification ensures that urine is not ejected through the corners. Due to this design advantage, we only use Klubertanz urine guards on our cages.

Klubertanz urine guards with overlapping corner:


Enclosure Tray

This is another cage accessory that at a first glance seems so simple in purpose that one would think all are created equal. Not so. As mentioned before, rabbits routinely urinate in a direction behind and below them. What this means is that the typical cage made for meat rabbit operation possess a design flaw since there is a 2 inch clearance between the floor of the cage and the top edge of the tray under the cage. Rabbits will routinely urinate through this gap and make a mess of your walls and floors.

To address this design flaw, we came up with a simple solution to hang the tray flush with the cage floor with the use of hooks and springs. However, this solution only works with Klubertanz tray which has a curled lip edge for hooking. The Bass Equipment trays do not have a lip and does not allow this solution to be possible.

Bass Equipment tray with no lip:


Klubertanz tray hung flush with cage floor:




Due to the advantages listed above, our preferred enclosure for raising our New Zealand White meat rabbits are those from Klubertanz. If you are interested in the specific product numbers, refer to our previous post, Indoor Starter Setup Shopping List .

While we like Klubertanz’s products, we are not a fan of their customer service. Before ordering from them, please make sure you read our feedback about their service on our Resources page.

100 Days Rabbitry

Atlanta’s High Quality New Zealand White Meat Rabbit Breeding Stock

  1. Ed
    October 24, 2012 at 1:43 AM

    Thanks for taking the time to do this…it was very helpful EAD

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