NEWS

2011-12-08

Pampered Rabbits

THESE two rabbits could be the most pampered pets in the world - living in a luxurious five star hutch worth more than GBP10,000.

For this is no ordinary rabbit hutch. This hi-tech habitat comes with integral LED lighting, a CCTV camera including an infrared facility for night-time observation, a fan to control temperature and a shutter to keep out bad weather – all of which can be operated by a mobile phone from anywhere in the world.

Hunnie, a male Continental Giant, and female Runnie, of a more indeterminate pedigree, have just moved into the brand new bespoke hutch that would cost more than GBP10,000 to buy.

The bunnies even have their own sleeping quarters in the hutch, which is likened to a log cabin and is fully equipped with mod cons like air conditioning.

They live in harmony alongside two South American iguanas, Zilla and Zubi, and three African Emperor scorpions, housed in separate vivariums in the garden of animal lovers Jason and Mairi Batterbee.    

The couple from Dersingham, near King's Lynn, Norfolk,  also have two cuddly but sharp-toothed South American chinchillas, Shelley and Roo, who live in a multi-story cage in the comfort of their lounge in their bungalow.

     

Electrical and mechanical engineer Jason had all the necessary skills to construct the hutch, which took nine months to build, as a replacement for another one that was falling to bits.

    

“I enjoy designing and constructing,” said Jason, who built the tailor-made homes that contain all their animals.

“They could be considered the most pampered pets in the world but they are worth it.” 

The hutch is approximately 7ft 6ins long (2 metres), 4 ft high (1.2 metres) and 3 feet deep (1 metre).  It is made from 8” x 2”pressure treated pine wood with all the fittings handmade out of stainless steel.   The total weight is approximately one tonne.

     

It is constructed in a similar manner to a log cabin with interlocking timbers through which run stainless steel expansion rods to prevent gaps appearing as the wood expands in winter and contracts in the summer.   

The front grill and handmade hinges are also of stainless steel as are the banisters of the stairs of this two-storey hutch which incorporates separate bedrooms for each of the two rabbits.  The roof is felted and covered in red cedar shingles.

    

“We switch on the fan in the roof if it should happen to get too hot in the summer,” explained Jason, adding that the weatherproof shutter was lowered at night and also when the wind was cold or it was raining.   

Everything is powered by a twelve volt battery, trickle-charged from the mains which sit alongside the hutch.   On a panel above the battery are press-button controls operating all the hutches facilities.

     

But what really sets this hutch apart from other rabbit hutches is Jason and Mairi’s ability to control its functions by mobile phone from anywhere in the world.   

It enables them to turn on the fan or lower the weatherproof shutter even if half a world away from Dersingham.

     

In the evenings the CCTV cameras, linked to their computer, enables them to keep an eye on their rabbits inside the hutch, a facility they can also be used anywhere in the world provided they have access to a computer.   

Only Jason or Mairi can gain access by remote control to the hutches’ various electronic functions.   In addition any instruction sent is acknowledged with a return text to confirm it has been successful.

Materials used in the construction cost more than GBP1,000 but Jason estimates that the hours spent making the one-off bespoke hutch would give it a value on the open market somewhere between GBP10 and GBP15,000.

    

The only facility that is not powered by cutting edge technology is feeding time.   “If we are away we have friends who do that,” said Jason.