Blog / Pets and sheds

Sheds for pets

22 August 2016

We’re all used to finding spiders in our sheds, but sheds can also make happy homes for our domestic pets. In this post we’ve rabbits and tortoise, a variety of birds, goats, ponies and even crocodiles being housed in garden sheds. Read on to discover some innovative ways to turn your shed into the perfect pet-friendly home.

Rabbits

A rabbit flap cut into a garden shed
Image source: therabbithouse.com
A rabbit flap cleverly cut into a garden shed

We’re used to seeing our rabbits all snug in their hutches but what they really need is much more space.

The Rabbit Welfare Association & Fund says:

“Rabbits are not designed to live in a confined space. In the wild they cover an area equivalent to 30 football pitches.”

Give your pet bunny the space it needs to stretch its legs and jump for joy by converting your garden shed into a luxurious rabbit hutch, which together with an outdoor run will have your furry friend happily hopping in no time at all. RWAF go on to say:

“Fed up of getting rained on when you want to talk to your rabbits? With a shed you can sit inside the shelter with them. Being able to sit down and interact with your rabbits will help you build a closer relationship.”

The Rabbit House gives great step-by-step instructions on making your rabbit a palace and as they say, giving your rabbit room to bounce has benefits for humans too.

Rabbit run passage into shed
Image source: rabbitsunited.org.uk
Passage between rabbit run and shed


Painted shed
Image source: rabbitsunited.org.uk
Painted rabbit shed

If you do decide to convert your shed into a roomy rabbit refuge, it’s important that any materials you use are pet safe. This means using pet safe woodstains or paint to preserve the wood that they are guaranteed to try gnawing on.

Tortoise 

Tortoise Forum member Tim has a pet tortoise named Barry, who weighs in at a massive 44lb. At 18'' long, Barry needs a space of his own. For this, Tim has transformed the garden shed into Barry’s new home.

tortoise shed
Image source: Barrysulcata
'The Boss' Barry's shed

Barry’s shed has everything he needs to live the life of luxury, including a heated box and his own shed flap entrance. To make sure Barry has enough light, and to make sure he can tell night from day while he's inside, Tim added a window.

tortoise heat box
Image source: Barrysulcata
Barry's heat box 

tortoise and cat
Image source: Barrysulcata
Tim’s bengal house cat, Ollie, joining Barry for a snooze in the shed.

Already have a tortoise in your life? Take Tim's lead, and adapt a garden shed to make a space where they can be happy and healthy. The Tortoise Table and The British Chelonia Group both have helpful tips on converting sheds into great tortoise homes which keep them safe, give them a basking spot and provide shelter during bad weather.

Birds

Parrots in a shed
Image source: parrotessentials.co.uk
Dorothy’s parrots in a garden shed conversion

By law, birds must be kept in a cage that gives them room to stretch and flap their wings, but why stop at providing an enclosure that’s merely ‘big enough’?

Dorothy Schwarz suggests converting a shed into a parrot house, complete with perches and feeding bowls to give these long-lived pets the extra space they deserve.

“Try to see the cage from a bird’s eye view. Wouldn’t you want it to be furnished with swings and suitable toys and have room to move around?”

Bird shed
Image source: sunderlandbudgerigarsociety.co.uk
Robert Higgerson and his Budgerigar shed

The key to accommodating your budgies in style is insulation, lighting and ventilation.  By adding polystyrene packing behind hardboard, a strip light and an extractor fan Robert Higgerson from The Sunderland Budgerigar Society was able to create a comfy home for his breeding birds within a home-built shed. 

Chickens may be less exotic than budgies and parrots, but they are no less loved. If you keep chickens you can be sure they’ll be happily housed in a converted garden shed, which has many similar benefits to using a shed for rabbits. Richard Cannon highlights them as:

“You can stand up in it, the chickens have more space and because of height it's easier to clean. The only 'extra' you will need is a run “

Chicken shed
Image source: downthelane.net
Richard Cannon’s garden shed chicken coop

Happy hens mean more eggs for you. Give them their own shed and they will be producing eggs for breakfast in no time.

Goats

Goat outside shed
Image source: henryandjoey.co.uk
Henry the pygmy goat outside his shed

Have you thought about keeping goats? Pygmy goats are a great option for those of you who don’t have a field for a garden! At a tiny 50 cm's tall Pygmy goats can be perfectly happy in a converted shed- provided they have outdoor space too. The Pygmy Goat Club has the following suggestions for good goat homes:

“Use an 8' x 6' shed, furnished with benches and hay rack... Electric light should be provided well out of reach of the goats and access from the shed to a well-fenced area will provide space for exercise and fresh air, both essential for the fun loving Pygmy Goat.”

goat enclosureImage source: henryandjoey.co.uk
Henry and Joey's shed and enclosure

Pets hate fireworks and other loud noises and goats are no exception. Goat keeper David Watts discovered an unusual way of calming his goats down during firework season:

"I wired up an old speaker in their shed, and ran a (low-voltage, goat proof and weatherproof) speaker cable to a stereo system in our house...They particularly enjoyed classical and jazz music, so stations such as BBC Radio 3 often calmed them down.“

As well as their own dj the goat shed has CCTV, which allows David to keep an eye on their behaviour and is especially useful in keeping a watch on any poorly pets.

Shetland Ponies 

Shetland pony in shed
Image source: photobucket.com
Thistle the Miniature Shetland pony 

Shetland Ponies are a hardy breed that doesn’t need a house to live in. But happy as they are outdoors in all weathers, they love a shelter for a bit of comfort when they need it.  

Key points to remember for ponies are to ensure your shed is fully waterproof, there is enough space for the pony to turn round and lie down and to include plenty of enrichment to prevent boredom.

Foals in particular should be stabled during their first winter and what better way than by converting your garden shed? 

Crocodiles:

african dwarf crocodile
Image source: shutterstock.com
African dwarf crocodile

If rabbits, tortoise, goats, parrots, chickens, ponies or budgies aren’t to your taste what about keeping a crocodile in your shed?  

Mark Amey, a finalist in  Shed of the Year 2016 and animal handling specialist has done just that. He has an African Dwarf Crocodile living in his garden.

All pets need special care but if you’re thinking about keeping an exotic animal in your garden shed make sure you do plenty of research, and talk to the experts first.

 

Crocodile shed
Image source: readersheds.co.uk
Mark's crocodile shed

For more animals in sheds take a look at our ‘Animal visitors to your shed’ post to find out about some of the more unusual creatures that people have found lurking in their garden buildings.

Do you have an animal in your shed? Have you made an amazing transformation in order to create a pet palace? We’d love to hear about your stories and see photos of your pampered companions- please share them with us on our Facebook page:

Lead image: Kapa65

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