Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Rabbit Tractor Version 2 is Finished

We used a PVC/2x2 board base for this one and it is MUCH lighter.  I can pick up one end with one hand, much easier to move. 

This rabbit tractor measures 4'x10' so it's 2' shorter than the other but is so much more manageable I think I'll stick with that length.  The problem is that it uses only part of the third cattle panel so there's scrap to deal with.  Next time maybe I'll cut the PVC pipe down to match the width of two cattle panels, which is 8'4".

Here's Kyle, our American Chinchilla buck, enjoying his new home:

We put a ramp in for him because I'm not sure he knows he can jump yet.  He is 3 years old so kind of set in his ways.  I still haven't seen him jump but he does use the ramp to get up and down.  It rests on the 2x4 wire bottom so it doesn't get in the way of moving.

I don't like those water bottles but they sure do make moving easier.  I think I will switch to's not that difficult to pull it out for moving then put it right back in.


  1. Nice job! I am curious how high these are - can a person walk in? How did you do the gate, as I cannot see any details on it. If you have step by step photos of how you made this, I'd love to see them. I think this would work for communal housing :) I've never heard of cattle panels before but I will look for them :) Thanks for putting your designs out there! I love finding alternatives to cage solo living.

  2. This one is tall enough for me to walk in, barely. I'm 5'4". The cattle panels come 16' long, so we cut this one down to 13'. 16' is too long for a 4' wide base and is wobbly. We did our first one by cutting the panels 12', which is a couple inches shorter than I am. It's a HUGE benefit to be able to walk in upright. I won't make another short one I think.

    I'm afraid I don't have step by step photos, but it's pretty simple. Start with a 4xwhatever frame. If you wanted, it would be lighter to make it a solid PVC frame with one or two 2x2s across the inside to strengthen it.

    We cut the cattle panel (try TSC or Big R, $20 each) so the rods were sticking out, then drilled holes along the PVC pipe and fitted the rods into the holes. We secured it further by wire tying the panels to the pipe at intervals along the length.

    The 2x4 wire is wire tied all around, and then the hardware cloth/chicken wire is clipped with the J clips you get to make rabbit cages. It lines up easiest if it's put inside the panels.

    In this one, you can see we only put wire 3' high. We had to add 2x4 wire all the way to the top because we had a rabbit who could climb straight up and out. I'd strongly suggest doing this *before* you have to chase rabbits. :D

    I would definitely keep the platform. All my guys love having a place to run up and down to and it adds quite a bit of space.

    With a 3-sided tarp shelter and a box they should be plenty warm in the winter. This winter I will put their tractors over areas that need the soil built up, fill the floor thickly with straw, and let them burrow in it. When spring comes I'll leave the straw/droppings and move them off to pasture again.

    Oh, and you need the heavy duty tarps. The one pictured is a cheap one and had to be replaced immediately because it made the upper area into a sauna. During the summer we only have it draped over the top - not 3 sided.

    Also, the benefit of the cattle panels is they're very sturdy so snow will just slide off the tarped area.

  3. Oh, and the gate is just another cattle panel cut down to fit. We wrapped the rods around the other panel to make hinges and then secure it with a carabiner.

  4. Thanks Megan, I think I have a better understanding now how you made it. Is that shelf held up by being wired through holes in the wood?
    My ground is not real flat, its hilly and with that, bumpy at times. Is your ground really flat, it looks it - I wonder how they'd do on that 2x4 mesh if it was not always flat.
    So I don't see 2x4 going all the way up, but see you put chicken wire up - is that what you meant?
    Do you have any issues with raccoons or rats or any other predators climbing up the walls and slipping in from the top?

    Thank you!


  5. The shelf is held up by more cattle panel. I laid it across and wrapped the ends of the rods from the cattle panel through the walls. It's sturdy enough for kids to jump on or an adult to sit on, which I like so I can hang with the rabbits and not be on the ground if it's wet.

    Our ground is pretty flat. We have some areas where it dips sharply a few inches and they can still eat it but not as well. As long as there is some place sturdy for them to stand I don't think they would mind. That gets riskier for the kits though because it presents more opportunity to escape. You might try to find something more flexible for the base so it can mold to the shape of the land. Smaller diameter PVC might work while still being strong enough.

    After this pen was made we had to add 2x4 wire from the chicken wire all the way to the top because of that one who could climb the wire. I wouldn't make another one without fully enclosing it in wire, but I think 2x4 is suitable for anything above 3 feet.

    We don't have predators here so I haven't had any trouble but with a cattle panel/1" hardware cloth combo you could be pretty confident.

  6. Hi Megan,
    thanks for all your terrific info you've been sharing. I have two more questions.
    Is there a reason you specify 4' wide - did you try 5' or 6' and have it be too wobbly? The hog panels are the closest thing I can find, and they are only 3' high so I'd need 3 to make it 9' deep, so wanted to go wider. Let me know if you have tried.

    The other question is I am curious if you took the rabbits out when you moved the pen. With 2"x4" mesh at the bottom, surely their feet would stick through when you lifted.

    Also wondering why you wouldn't just reinforce with chicken wire on the whole thing - must be cheaper than 2"x4"... not secure enough?

    Thank you so much for your help!! I look forward to giving it a try soon, putting one of these together. Oh, and I posted your new design at and other folks are check it out and are excited by it too. More pens, less cages!

  7. The original plan was to run the rabbit tractors through a series of raised garden beds so we wouldn't need to mow. The beds are 4' apart so that's why the width. Also, keep in mind these can be very heavy. The 4x12 one we made is close to 200 lbs. The PVC is lighter but they're still substantial to move. We have eye bolts on the end and hook a tie down strap to it to drag it when we move. A wider and shorter tractor might be more difficult to maneuver.

    I feed the rabbits before I move them every day so they're usually up on their platforms when we move. They do just fine balancing on top of the wire if they happen to be on the ground but you have to move slowly and be very watchful of feet falling through. We haven't had any injuries but I can definitely see the potential for them.

    Rabbits can bite through chicken wire so that's a main consideration. We happened to have extra 2x4 which is why we used it. Chicken wire after 3' up would probably be fine, but we won't use chicken wire again for the bottom.

    Thanks for posting at RT about it! I'm super excited to work on this project and hope to work out some smaller designs that work better for smaller yards and urban settings.