Can You Keep Rabbits Outdoors?
While rabbits are gentle and delicate pets that are most often kept indoors, they can also live and be happy outdoors, provided that they have the right accommodation. After all, a rabbit in the wild is an outdoor animal, hardy and enduring – in every season of the year. As a result, some pet rabbit breeds do just fine when housed outdoors in a comfy, insulated hutch where they are protected from harsh elements and potential predators.
Basic Care Requirements for Outdoor Rabbits
If you plan on keeping your pet rabbit outdoors, there are a number of things you need to consider beforehand. Naturally, this pertains to protection from the elements, as well as the necessary free space and a chance to run and exercise. For starters, rabbits cannot – and should not – be kept outside on the hottest and coldest days of the year. Even with suitable protection, these days can be potentially hazardous for the fragile health of the rabbits. While rabbits have plenty of fluffy fur and thick paw pads, which can both protect them from moderately cold temperatures, the same is not true for dog days of the summer. Excess heat can be trickier to endure, so you’ll need to make sure their enclosure is in the shade and has good ventilation to promote that cooling airflow.
Rabbits that are kept outside will need a protective enclosure – a special outdoor hutch for rabbits. Bunnies love little nooks, hiding spots, tunnels, and burrows, and your enclosure should have some of these included. Plenty of hay, shade, protective nooks and proper ventilation are also all mandatory. Needless to say, this enclosure needs to be spacious, so your bunny won’t feel constrained and confined. What is more, rabbits will need to run freely and exercise outside the hutch at least once per day. If you have a yard, let them run free under your supervision, and make sure that they cannot elope. Afterward, they can rest in their enclosure. Of course, you will need to provide protection against predators. As a prey animal, rabbits are quite vulnerable, especially if there are coyotes, foxes, owls, eagles, and other similar predators nearby. A sturdy enclosure, covered with roofing or strong chicken wire, is a must to keep them safe from danger.
Other things to keep in mind are less likely to occur – but not impossible. Rabbits love to dig and burrow, and they could dig their way outside of a fence and run free. Also, you will have to make sure that your property does not have odd vegetation that can be potentially poisonous and deadly for rabbits. And lastly, keep loneliness in mind. A solitary rabbit, alone in an enclosure, can grow lonesome and develop apathy, and loss of appetite. In an outdoor setting, it is best to keep several rabbits, preferably spayed and neutered. Otherwise, you will have to provide a lot of company and interaction.
Keeping rabbits outside is all about adapting to different conditions and always providing adequate shelter depending on the specific situation. With each new season and temperature shift, you should make sure that your bunny is not in immediate danger. In summer, shady spots, ventilation, and plenty of fresh water will be needed. In winter, provide warmth, dry spots, and cozy nooks away from harsh winds. Additionally, you should never leave your bunny without supervision, especially if you are living in an area with natural predators. Also, if you notice that the weather is going to the extremes, you might have to transfer your rabbit indoors, where temperatures are cooler or warmer – a garage or a barn can work if you’re unable to house a bunny inside your home.
A proud mama to seven dogs and ten cats, Angela spends her days writing for her fellow pet parents and pampering her furballs, all of whom are rescues. When she's not gushing over her adorable cats or playing with her dogs, she can be found curled up with a good fantasy book.
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