Even though rabbits make common house pets, they are just as commonly kept outdoors in a hutch or enclosure. With so many advantages of being outdoors, from fresh grass to munch on to ample sunshine and room to roam, your rabbit will probably be quite happy outside, but is it the best option. Take a look at some common questions about keeping your pet bunny outdoors and the answers you need to know to make your own decision.
What are the risks of keeping your bunny outdoors?
There are a handful of risks of keeping your rabbit outdoors that you would not have to be concerned about in the house. Predators are the primary concern, as rabbits are easy prey for many types of animals, such as foxes, predatory birds, and even neighbourhood dogs and cats. Additionally, outdoor-kept rabbits can be at risk because of:
- access to poisonous plants
- more exposure to rain, wind, and drastic temperatures
- bacteria in the soil
- exposure to pesticides and fertilisers
- diseases transmitted by insects and other animals
What is the best setup for an outdoor rabbit?
Because keeping your rabbit outdoors can come with so many risks, it is absolutely crucial that you provide your pet bunny with the proper outdoor setup. The rabbit should have a quality hutch that is predator-proof, a fenced area for exercise, shade on hot days, and access to fresh food and water at all times. Some of our rabbit hutches are designed to sit directly on the ground for access to fresh grass and some have an attached screened-in play area as well. However, it is also a good idea to give your bunny exercise time out of the hutch in a fenced area.
Is it a good idea to move an indoor rabbit outside?
If your bunny has always been indoors and you want to transition it to an outdoor setting, this must be done carefully. You will be changing what the rabbit knows to be familiar and what their body is used to, so do not make a hasty change. Instead, gradually introduce your rabbit to the outdoor area and outdoor hutch by giving it short increments of time in the new areas every day for several days. As the rabbit gets more familiar with the new surroundings, you can allow it to stay longer and longer until it is eventually a full-time outdoor rabbit. Just remember two important things about this transition:
- Your indoor bunny is used to social interaction and attention while in the house, so even though it will be an outdoor bunny, you have to continue to give it love and your presence every day. Otherwise, your pet will suffer psychologically and it can change their temperament; a usually friendly bunny may become mean and agitated.
- Rabbits do not do well with drastic temperature changes. They regulate the temperature of their bodies by growing a thicker coat or shedding hair as needed, which takes time. Because of this, it is best to take your rabbit out in weather that provides close to the same temperatures as in the house.
With enough care and careful planning and preparation, rabbits can be perfectly happy and safe outdoors. To find out more about keeping your bunny happy, check out the learning area of Rabbits.ie.