Which small animal outdoor pen and hutch are best?
Every beloved pet deserves time in the sunlight, free from the confines of its cage. However, that playtime isn’t always reasonable with the natural threats of the outside world. A small animal outdoor pen or hutch can give your pet a safe space when venturing beyond its bedroom.
The Pawhut 48-Inch 2-Floor Large Rabbit Hutch is a suitable habitat for bunnies, guinea pigs and other small animals that you can place either inside or outside your home. An asphalt roof keeps it dry from the rain and the entire hutch opens for easy cleaning.
What to know before you buy a small animal outdoor pen and hutch
Outdoor animal pens and hutches have some similarities but are different types of enclosures. Both enclosures will be a stimulating change from your pet’s usual home, but should not replace you as the primary safe keeper of your animals.
What is a pen?
A pen typically is a wired enclosure that has several panels you can link together. The panels can connect to form a full circle or line up to make a fence. Animal pens are useful both inside and outside the home and are portable and easy to clean. You can add small animal toys to provide more enrichment for your pet.
What is a hutch?
The word “hutch” usually refers to a cage for holding rabbits, but it also is used for other small pets. Unlike a pen, hutches are bulky and not as portable, although some are built with wheels attached. Hutches are more secure than playpens and usually have weatherproof roofs, keeping animals safe from predators and rain.
You should not blindly trust a hutch or pen even if it is a top-reviewed product. Animals can be clever and you will want to test that any latches and locks on a hutch are secure before leaving your pet unattended.
Never leave an animal in an outdoor playpen completely alone. Even if it does not figure out a way to escape, the playpen does not have a roof and your pet may not be safe from wildlife.
What to look for in a quality small animal outdoor pen and hutch
The most important quality of an outdoor pen or hutch is its security. Keeping your pet safe and confined is the priority, closely followed by a durable build and plenty of space.
A quality pen or hutch should be relatively escape-proof. A playpen should latch securely from panel to panel and have no defects. A hutch should have latches that are not openable from the inside. It may even have locks on the latches as a second precaution to keep your rabbit from craftily nudging open the door.
Keep in mind that animals have different levels of intelligence and athletic abilities. No matter how sturdy a playpen may be, a ferret will find a way to scale the wiring and a rabbit will undoubtedly hop free. Hutches often have wider wiring since they are built for rabbits, so smaller animals such as hamsters and gerbils might be able to squeeze out.
You can always make alterations to a hutch or buy one with smaller wiring for rodents. Some playpens come with sunshade roofs,which can impede your curious pet’s escape.
An outdoor pen or hutch must be resilient to condensation and rain. Hutches should have an asphalt roof and playpens should be made of hard plastic. Tougher materials are recommended if you have a hungry pet that snacks on anything and everything.
Compact animal houses are not meant to be permanent cages and do not give your animals the space they need to stretch their legs. Look for hutches with two levels to keep your pet mentally and physically healthy. Never permanently keep an animal in an enclosure it’s not meant for. Although rats and ferrets are smaller than rabbits, they need more cage space than a hutch provides.
Playpens can be extended by purchasing additional panels, so size is rarely an issue.
How much you can expect to spend on a small animal outdoor pen and hutch
Expect to spend at least $25 on a standard nine-panel playpen; however, the price goes up if you add additional panels or a cover. Small animal hutches cost at least $75 and full-sized hutches cost around $200-$250.
Small animal outdoor pen and hutch FAQ
How do you keep a hutch warm in the winter?
A. Start by checking that the hutch is free of gaps and waterproof. You can purchase a hutch cover or plastic covering to go over the wiring and provide insulation. You can purchase animal-safe heat pads and add extra straw for them to burrow in.
What animals can live in a hutch?
A. Although hutches are advertised as fit for all small animals, they are only appropriately sized for rabbits, guinea pigs and hamsters. Other small animals like chinchillas, sugar gliders, rats and ferrets need much larger enclosures.
What are the best small animal outdoor pen and hutch to buy?
Top small animal outdoor pen and hutch
What you need to know: This is a double-level rabbit cage with a ramp connecting the living area and run box.
What you’ll love: This cage has lockable doors on the top and bottom levels. It has a built-in sliding tray and you can open the roof for convenient cleaning. The frame is metal so your animal won’t chew through it.
What you should consider: There are no wire grates on top of the trays and it needs assembly.
Where to buy: Sold by Amazon
Top small animal outdoor pen and hutch for the money
What you need to know: It is a small pet house with a weatherproof roof and door lock.
What you’ll love: This hutch is available in three colors: orange, gray and light wood. The door can lock and lower into a ramp for entry and exit. You can adjust the four feet.
What you should consider: It has an asphalt roof and no insulation so do not use it in extreme hot or cold conditions. It requires assembly.
Where to buy: Sold by Amazon
Worth checking out
What you need to know: This is a multicolored wired playpen with a 36-inch diameter.
What you’ll love: It is made of eight panels you can add or take away. It is made of plastic and acrylic and can be easily wiped clean with a mild soap.
What you should consider: Clever animals might figure out how to escape this playpen.
Where to buy: Sold by Amazon
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Gwen Swanson writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.
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