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Is It Cruel To Keep A Rabbit Outdoors?


You might have had an adorable rabbit with a fluffy tail for years, or you may be considering getting one of these petite cuddly beings as a pet. In either case, you’ll find that rabbits thrive in both indoor and outdoor environments.

As long as your rabbits have a warm, cozy hutch, clean water, a nutritious diet, and the company of other rabbits, they’ll be elated and cheerful! How do you care for rabbits who are kept outdoors? Here’s a short guide.

Care Plan For Outdoor Rabbits

For rabbits, the outdoor environment is reminiscent of their natural habits. So, if you provide them with a nurturing, warm environment with lots of space to hop around, burrow, and play, they will get on very well.

1. Supplies and Equipment


Unlike other pets like cats or dogs, you will need quite a few supplies to keep your little bunnies safe and secure. In general, you’ll require a rabbit hutch and other basic supplies like dishes or bowls, some hay, toys, a litter box, a scoop, a brush, an exercise run, and a carrier.

You can buy some additional things, later on, based on your rabbits’ needs and requirements. However, it is important to pay close attention to the hutch you’re buying as a subpar hutch can negatively affect your rabbits. Rabbits require enough space to grow and play.

If the hutch is too cramped, they may feel stressed, fall ill, or injure themselves. So, while you’re shopping around for a hutch, ensure that there is more than adequate space for your bunny to move around and grow.

Another important item that should be a must-have on your list is a run. You can easily fit one of these in your hutch or attach it outside. It just gives your rabbit more fun places to play in, while they’re outdoors.

2. Cage Set-Up


Outdoor rabbits sleep in hutches at night, so it’s a good idea to get a sturdy one like one from The hutch is akin to a safe space for your rabbit; a space where they can unwind and relax, without worry. To set up your cage, line its floor with some newspapers, and spread out an even layer of soft hay or straw over it.

Ensure that you clean out and replace the bedding material regularly, perhaps once a week, especially if it is wet. Place bowls for food and water throughout the cage where they can easily access it, depending on the number of rabbits you have.

Wash the bowls with warm water and dish soap, weekly if not daily. If you’re using a bottle of water, check the tube regularly to make sure that there is no obstruction blocking the steady flow of water. Keep an eye on the water level and fill the bowl or bottle to keep your bunnies well-hydrated.

3. Protect Your Rabbit


While there’s no doubt that keeping your rabbit outside in your backyard or garden has several benefits, it’s hard to overlook the biggest drawback – predators. Since rabbits are considered prey by many wild animals, you need to go above and beyond with your security measures to ensure that they don’t become a coyote’s next meal.

These measures will also protect your pet rabbits from the harsh effects of the environment. Although bunnies thrive in their natural habitat, if it gets unusually hot or cold they may fall ill, since they have been domesticated.

In the summers, they require a shaded area with access to ample water, where they can cool down from the heat and quench their thirst. If you’re expecting a thunderstorm, snowfall, or cold draughts at night it’s a good idea to invest in a small space heater or take your fluffy pets inside to keep them warm and safe.

Check your hutch regularly for any loose wires or doors so that predators can’t harm or devour your rabbits by squeezing through holes. Keep the cage as clean as possible, for droppings and food particles may attract pests like insects. Your cage should be waterproof so that sudden, unexpected rains don’t cause any unforeseen damage.

4. Show Your Rabbits Some Love!


Rabbits absolutely love company, whether it’s other rabbits or humans. Spend at least thirty minutes playing with your rabbits every day, while they play and burrow in your garden.

Since rabbits are social beings, they are always happier when their social senses are stimulated. You can also encourage mental and physical stimulation, while you are away, by adding a few toys to your rabbits’ hutch.

They may get bored quite easily, so switch out the toys often. Some things that rabbits love playing with include balls, shreds of paper or tissue, and cardboard tubes or boxes. You can also get things like plushies for them to play with, but make sure they don’t have any detachable parts that your bunny can swallow and choke on.

5. Socializing Rabbits

By nature, rabbits are quite cautious beings and do not like being introduced to new and unfamiliar environments. While they love company, keep in mind that all rabbits have their own unique personalities, and may not like another rabbit intruding into their space.

So, while buying a hutch ensure that there’s enough room for all your rabbits. Usually, if your rabbits belong to the same litter, they tend to get along well. However, if you plan to introduce them to a new fluffy friend, be careful and ensure that they all have their own space.

Risks Of Keeping Rabbits Outside


If you’re planning to keep your rabbits outside in a hutch, then you must be well aware of all the risks involved. As mentioned earlier, rabbits are considered prey by many night prowlers like coyotes and foxes.

To keep them safe, make sure that the hutch they are in is adequately reinforced and not easy to get into. The second risk factor to consider is the weather. During winters your bunnies may feel a bit chilly, so add some extra insulation to their hutch, while placing it in a safe, warm space. You could also invest in a space heater or just get the rabbits inside in a carrier.

Finally, since your rabbits are outdoors, you may be tempted to not spend as much time with them as you would, if they were indoors. However, rabbits need plenty of love and affection so spend time with them every day.

It’s also the perfect chance to clean out their cages and check them for any injuries and check their cage for any pests that may cause diseases like flystrike. If you keep all these factors in mind, then keeping rabbits outdoors will be a breeze!

Final Words

It is not cruel to keep rabbits outside, as long as you take sufficient measures to counter all the risks involved, such as a durable, waterproof rabbit hutch. Keeping rabbits outdoors can be the best experience ever for both you and your bunnies, as they get to thrive in their natural environment!

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