Can Rabbits Live Outside?

It is not very safe to keep your bunny outdoors but if you take certain precautions that can be a rather nice experience both for you and your pet(s).

A lot of rabbit parents cannot agree on this subject. You have one fraction that says ”Rabbits should live outdoors, that is their natural environment” while the other side will assure you the rabbits which are living indoors are happier, safer, and will live longer lives. Who is right?

As in many life circumstances the things are not black and white. This situation is not an exception. There are pros and cons to both rabbit’s housing solutions. I, personally prefer indoor habitat as the house of my rabbits but I am not strongly against people with different opinions.

I have done research on this topic as I really want to be objective. If I share only my experience, you might be deprived of other perspectives. My goal with this article is to give you as much information as possible so you can make the right decision.

What Are the Advantages of Rabbits Living Outdoors?

  1. Rabbits that live outdoors will be less destructive. You know that bunnies can cause damage by destroying your possessions. As they like to chew on things, to dig, they can make a great mess if you don’t provide them the toys they need. Living in your backyard reduces the possibility of rabbits ruining something. Of course, they can be destructive outdoors as well. It is necessary to protect the garden ( flowers or maybe if you have some veggies ) with a wired fence. Be careful as rabbits like to dig so they can easily reach your roses or cabbage through a self-made tunnel. This is the reason why you never leave free-roaming rabbits unattended not indoors, not outdoors.
  1. Outdoor habitat for rabbits is more suitable for people with allergies. If you suffer from allergies for which rabbits or their fur are triggers then it is better to place your rabbit outdoors. This solution allows you to have a rabbit as otherwise keeping a pet that causes allergic reactions wouldn’t be such a smart decision. Rabbit’s fur, saliva, dander can set off the allergic reaction causing runny nose, itchy skin and throat, skin rashes, etc. Don’t mix these symptoms with cold, as if those are accompanied by fever then it is not the case of allergy. Always consult a doctor for proper treatment.
  1. Rabbits that live outdoors have more freedom. In most cases, if your rabbit(s) lives outdoors will have more space to explore, to play. Some owners are pretty certain that rabbits are happier if they live in your backyard then in your room.
  1. Rabbits that live outdoors live in a more natural environment. If you think about wild rabbits and how do they live, of course, it is more natural for them to live outside then inside. But don’t mix wild rabbits with your house bun. These two are completely two different species. Your pet is a domesticated rabbit and he came a long way from his wild ancestors. For example, in case you release your rabbit in the wild, he might be able to survive for only a year or two. You might be surprised with the fact that your rabbit, most probably wouldn’t be able to find the food as he is used to its rabbit food and hay you constantly provide him. The bottom line, don’t think that your house bun absolutely needs an outdoor space to ensure a happy life. He/she can be perfectly happy in your room as well.
  1. The rabbit that lives outside doesn’t occupy the room in your house. You are well aware that rabbits need space. The more rabbits you have more space you must provide for them. If you have a giant breed rabbit than you definitely have to give them plenty of space inside your house. If your rabbits live outside than you can keep all the rooms for you and your family.

What are the Dangers my Rabbit can face if Lives outdoors?

There are many dangers lurking your rabbit outside. This is the main reason why a great number of rabbit’s parents decide to house their pets inside.

1. Bugs – Different insects can be very harmful to your pet. Some of them can be harmful to humans as well, they are able to transmit some deadly diseases. For example ticks. One tick that is feeding on your rabbit will not cause great damage but several of them can kill your pet. Also, ticks can transmit diseases that can be fatal to rabbits. Especially deer ticks that can carry Lyme disease.

Fleas are also rabbit’s enemies. Pay attention to flies and conditions called Flystrike. This is a deadly condition that has to be treated immediately. It develops when a fly lays the eggs usually around the rabbit’s bottom. Maggots soon hatch from the eggs and find their way into the rabbit’s skin. Your bunny can die literally in a few hours.

Mosquitos also carry some diseases that can affect your bunnies. For example, the deadly condition RHDV2- Rabbit Hemorrhagic Disease can be transmitted to a rabbit by mosquito bite ( among other ways of transmission). There is no vaccine available in the USA for this disease and it might happen you will not realize your bunny is sick until it’s too late.

Mites are fairly common causing skin irritation. Rats and mice can also harm your furry friends by contaminating their food and water so keep the hygiene on a very high level.

2. Animals – wild but also domesticated ones pose a threat to your pets. Rabbits are prey animals and dogs are predators by their nature. Even if you don’t have a dog, maybe your neighbor has. Also, some wild animals such as foxes or weasels can attack your bunny.

Even some large bird species such as hawks or owls represent the danger for rabbits. Don’t think that your pet is not in danger if you live in the city. Raccoons can be found in very urban areas and they are predators that can harm your bunny.

For example, you may notice your rabbit has died overnight and the lock of his/her hutch remained untouched. So what happened? No sign of any predator but yet your very lively and happy pet died. Rabbits can feel predators at long distances due to their great hearing, vision, and smell.

Maybe a raccoon showed up in your neighbor’s yard and didn’t even come close to your bunny but he felt the presence of a predator and died of shock or he injured himself trying to escape. Be aware of the fact the raccoons can open the lock.

3. Outside temperature and different weather conditions – Rabbits are feeling comfortable if the air temperature is somewhere between 55-75F. They will tolerate the temperature till 50F but below that, it is too cold for them.

It is also very dangerous to leave them outside if it is above 75F as they are really prone to heatstrokes. Rain and the melting of wet snow can also be very harmful to rabbits. You should not let by any means your rabbit gets soaked. Little rain will not harm him but very damp fur can provoke pneumonia.

4. Rabbits that live outside can suffer from a lack of human interaction. Your bunny needs you, he needs to spend some time with you every day even if he has his other rabbit friend ( which is strongly recommended, as rabbits shouldn’t live alone). If your pets live outdoors it’s almost certain that you will not spend the same amount of time with them as you would if they live in your house. Lack of human interaction is not only a physiological problem. Rabbits can get sick very suddenly. They die very quickly. If you are not around you will miss the first signs of illness and lose the opportunity to help them.

5. Grass and other plants found outside can be toxic to rabbits- grass itself is completely safe to rabbit but if treated with weed killers or some animals such as dogs urinated on that grass, then it can be very toxic for your bunny. What other plants can be toxic to rabbits? Apricot plants, Cherry trees, Calendula, Begonia, Avocado leaves, Tomato leaves, Sweet Pea and Potato, Violet and Apple seeds, Morning Glory, Primrose, Oak foliage… As you can see better to make sure your rabbit comes not even close to your garden.

What is The Safest House for My Rabbit Outside?

The most common option for the rabbit’s outdoor housing is a rabbit hutch. The most common yes, but the best and the safest NO.

First of all rabbit hutches that you can buy usually are not big enough. Remember that small to medium size rabbit needs at least 2 Ft X 4 Ft space and if you have two of them even more ( 4 Ft X 4 Ft ) Take these measures really as a minimum and provide larger space if possible.

Depends on the area where you live, the weather condition you have, you need to ensure that your rabbits will not be exposed to temperatures below 50 F and not above 75 F. If you have two rabbits they might sit next to each other and keep them warm that way but in case the weather is too hot you really need to cool them down. A simple hutch will not provide that.

If you decide on a hutch, buy thermal cover as this should keep your bunnies warm in the winters and cool during summer days. You might run into waterproof covers also for hutches but don’t waste your money on these as will not provide the temperature insulation your rabbits need.

A better option is to build a proper house with the front yard for your rabbits or to use some old shed or garage for this purpose. It is important to make a draft and damp-free, spacious habitat for your pets. That house needs to have proper insulation. Some people put the AC and heating systems. The main downside of this kind of rabbit’s house is the price. This housing solution looks excellent but it is rather costly.

Don’t forget to protect your pets from different predators. So rabbits space needs to be fenced ( their ”front yard” ) and covered with mesh (to protect them from birds)

Every time when you let your rabbits roam freely you have to be there and supervise them. There is no such thing you letting them wander around while you do the laundry or wash your dishes. A lot of things can happen during your absence. To be honest many things can happen while you are there but at least some of them you can prevent.

Can I just Let My Rabbits Play Outside Occasionally?

Of course, although there is no great necessity for that. Rabbits are not dogs, they don’t have the need to go out and play in your back yard.

If you prefer your bunnies playing outdoors bear in mind all the dangers we have mentioned.

Provide a proper X-pen for playing outside and be with your pets constantly to prevent any accident. Remember that rabbits are escape artists so even in a playpen they can dig a tunnel and run away. That is why it is important not to leave them playing alone.

If there is a great temperature difference between outside and inside ( 20 degrees or more), don’t let your pet outdoors. Rabbits don’t adapt so easily.

If you already have bunnies living outside because you are a teenager whose parents insist on this maybe you can first detect the reasons your parents think that your rabbits should live outside.

If they think that rabbits are smelly, can get dirty and make a mess try to reassure them with facts. By the way, rabbits are fairly clean animals and their poop doesn’t have any smell but urine does. The only smell that comes from rabbits actually comes from their litter box. Don’t forget that it is your job to keep the litter box clean.

Final Thought

As you can see outdoor rabbit’s housing solution has its pros and cons. Actually, it all depends on the area where you live, the climate, the presence of wild animals.

If you live in a mild climate area, without a high risk of predator animals wandering around then maybe you can try to let your bunnies enjoy themselves outside. If you take precautions and put extra effort to make the most suitable outdoor home for your furry friends, rabbits living outside can be an enjoyable experience.

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