I am new to the forums here, and have had rabbits since January 2017. Newbie all around.
I live in the High Desert of Southern California, and while the climate is great for rabbits 9 months out of the year, the summer is brutal. I currently have hanging cages, but have had to install fans with a solar panel, and bring out frozen bottles daily. During the hottest days, (over 102) I have brought them into the house in plastic crates for the AC. So far that has been about 15 days so far.
While I was dead set against a colony setup originally, this climate is just not good for rabbits unless they can burrow.
So here are my plans.... I have a 24' x 24' area quartered into 12 x 12 sections. There is no vegetation, but it is mostly covered (roofed) by plywood. (Some sections have aged and blown away, but 80% is still covered to bring shade.) Please see the attached picture of my "blueprints"
One quarter is already enclosed on three sides, and now houses the hanging cages, and would be utilized for either grow outs or hospital cages, and for hay and feed. There is room for 2 buck areas, 6' x 6' each.
The does would have either a 12' x 24' section, or two 12' x 12' quarters. I have several crates that would be buried (for temperature control), with a hinged lid, granting access to the kits, and I plan to build several crates to allow shelter or hiding space for the buns. All of the crates and pallets are free from work, except for 1 sheet of plywood, and several bales of straw for wind blinds. (We have heavy South winds most days of the year.) A 4' x 6' piece of plywood will create a covered area for additional shade.
4'' x 2'' fencing will surround each section, and the surroundings to create an "escape area." This is so that if I have any escapees that burrow out, they will be in a dog free area until I can get out to catch them again and fill in any holes. My family dogs have free run of the property, unless fenced. Above the fencing will be bird netting to discourage hawks or owls. The doe area will have chicken wire added to the bottom so that kits cannot escape into an unsafe area.
Do I need to worry excessively about snakes? I haven't seen any on my property as of yet, but if I introduce prey....will a rattlesnake be able to take down an adult or only the babies?
Am I over thinking this? I would appreciate any opinions.
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I had a plan to raise meat bunnies at one time and even did some reading up on it years ago. The one fact that I did read was a byproduct of a " rabbit ranch was.... Night crawlers. I'm not sure if freshwater fishing is big where you are, but this could be a little extra income if you could find a store or two to peddle them. This post probably did not help you, but a fun fact is still a fun fact.....larry
Love your idea - anything that gets bunnies off wire mesh is a plus in my opinion
I wonder - why not use the 'escape areas' as well? Or are they actually used for something else, just dog proof?
Be prepared for the does to make and use their own burrows instead of the crates you have buried for them
make sure there is plenty of shade and shelter for them - one piece 6x4 might not be enough. and several crates above ground as bolt holes if a hawk flies over - rabbits are a bit naff from a survival point of view, just the shadow of a hawk can give them a heart attack if there is nowhere for them to hide.
Also, if you can, introduce feed plants outside that also offer shade and wind protection. You can cut armfuls and throw over the fence.
Plus TOYS!! they don't have much to do in there except eat and dig, so they will dig.... toys are easy - apple branches to chew, things to roll or throw around
You can see I am coming at it from a bunny welfare point of view, but I am sure you want to have happy bunnies as well as safe ones
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