Buying a rabbit hutch - a beginners guide
If you haven't already purchased a rabbit and are considering buying one the first thing you should do after considering the feasibility of it's care is to look at the hutches and equipment you will need to care for your rabbit correctly. Here on eBay there are a great deal of different hutches in different styles and wood types and this guide is here to help new owners to choose a hutch suitable for their rabbit.
Sizes, Runs and other extras
The size of the hutch you buy depends greatly on the type of rabbit that you are thinking of keeping and this must be carefully considered as large breeds of rabbits (french lop, continental and british giant etc) will need a BIG hutch to house them comfortably and that of course will take up a fair bit of space (eg 6x2x2 plus).
Although some breeders recommend hutches around 36" (3 feet) for the very small breeds such as the netherland dwarf and mini lop in my own personal experience most rabbits do prefer more space to less (although you do get the odd one!) so even these smaller breeds should ideally be housed in something around 48" (4 feet) in length as a minimum. This size hutch would also be suitable for most other smaller breeds remembering that you can get hutches which have a good width as well as length which will help to give the rabbit more space. The width of the hutch should be easily wide enough that the rabbit can comfortably turn around with ease and tall enough so the rabbit can stand up on it's back legs without it's head touching the roof of it's hutch.
If possible do try to get a hutch with attaching run as this will give your rabbit far more space to move around and can exercise as it needs. A hutch with attached run is better than buying a seperate run as it means your rabbit can go back in to the main body of the hutch if it feels threatened or if the heavens suddenly open and most hutches with runs have a trapdoor which you can close up at night to keep your rabbit secure in the main part of the hutch. But if this isn't possible a seperate run is ideal for letting your rabbit out to graze and exercise - some runs do have a covered area for your rabbit to get under too. Remember that wherever you do put your hutch and run that if it's on grass you will need to keep an eye that the rabbit doesn't try to dig out and that you will need to move it regularly to stop the ground getting worn out. If keeping on patio or cement flooring you will also need to move the hutch and run regularly to clean any fallen shavings and faeces out the bottom. Some hutch and run combo's have a run which sits directly underneath the hutch and have their own flooring rather sitting directly on the grass/patio.
Covers can be purchased for your hutch from eBay sellers and these do help greatly in keeping the elements out - there is nothing worse for your rabbit then a day when the wind is howling and the rain is pouring and pushing it right into the hutch! There are a variety of covers which can be purchased including those which are made of see-through plastic which allows your rabbit to see out whilst being protected and others which have extra padding for the winter and simpler designs which just fit snuggly over the hutch and can be rolled back during the day/when the weather is better. Some even have extra parts which keep the run covered too so even when the weather isn't good your rabbit can still exercise in it's run.
The Hutch itself
When looking at a hutch on a sellers page try to check what it is manufactered out of - the studier and thicker the wood the better. Thin plywood will soon deteriorate outside and any wood which isn't sealed will soon bow and allow water to leak in after a years useage. If you purchase a very sturdy tongue and groove designed hutch it should last you a long time and remember that as with most things in life you do get what you pay for and if you buy a cheap hutch be prepared to find that after a years use you might need a new one - it's worth paying that little extra!
When you get your hutch home whether it be pre-assembled or flat packed there are two things you can do to help keep the integrity of the wood and give it a longer life. Firstly is to get a hutch cover as mentioned above as it will help to protect the hutch as well as the occupant and prevent water damage but also by litter training your rabbit to go in a plastic tray will help to prevent the wood deteriorating inside. It also is a positive thing for the rabbits health and wellbeing as this means that it makes a daily spot clean much easier if all you need to do is take out the tray and tip it out and refill with fresh litter - thus keeping the environment clean and helping to prevent flystrike.
Likewise if you are buying a used hutch see if you can find out what happened to the previous occupant - the hutch should be thorougly disinfected by yourself anyway even if the seller has already done so but be wary of any deaths as there is always a risk involved. Also check the door clasps and wiring too for any previous damage or weaknesses. Foxes are very wiley creatures and soon figure out if there is a weakness - if in doubt you could easily get some new mesh and re do it yourself or add an extra layer or clasps for added security.