The practice of keeping a rabbit outdoors has received opposition throughout the years. However, with proper care and attention, an outdoor rabbit can be both happy and healthy.
To keep a rabbit outside, ensure the rabbit has a proper hutch that provides space and protection, a companion for social interaction, a clean space, a playpen for exercise, and protection from the weather. These are necessities and will allow an outdoor rabbit to remain safe and content.
The above-mentioned ideas will ensure your rabbit receives adequate care. Below, we will dive into how these five steps can be accomplished.
Why Keep Your Rabbit Outside
Your rabbit is a creature of exercise, movement, and curiosity. Rabbits don’t like being cooped up, it makes them feel trapped and uncomfortable. They prefer to have grass to run on and fresh air to breathe.
Being outside provides this for your rabbits and allows them to be in their own element. Rabbits need 3-5 hours of exercise per day and that can be difficult for a rabbit to get if they are stuck inside.
Also, rabbits who are cooped up in a house often get into trouble where they aren’t meant to be. Trouble can be seen with their own health or the protection of your household objects.
Rabbits love to chew on anything and everything they can. They will chew on wires, shoes, paper, and remotes. Whereas if they are outside they will chew on grass and hay and other landscape objects. This is better to keep your bunny safe anyway.
How to Keep Rabbits Outside
- Never bring them inside: It can be as simple as this, if they aren’t brought inside then they won’t know that it is an option. Plus if there isn’t any doggy door or small door that they can get through then they won’t be able to get in on their own.
- What if you do have a doggy door: Well in this case keep your rabbit with all the necessities that they need outside. They won’t have a desire to come inside if they are too busy with toys and food outside. Remember they will most likely prefer to stay outside, especially if they don’t know that inside exists.
- Have shelter and protection: Your rabbit will need you to protect them from the outside forces unless you want your bunny digging a burrow in your yard. A hutch is a great shelter, as well as a playpen to keep the bunny from straying too far. Also, a second bunny will give your rabbit a friend to occupy itself with.
COMMON QUESTION: What about small pests, like ants, can they hurt my rabbit if he’s kept outside? Yes, ants can be harmful to your rabbit, but some ants are more harmful than others. Find out more about which ants are a real problem, and what you should do about it if you see them in your rabbit’s cage, in my article all about the dangers of ants on pet rabbits here.
If you live in a place with extreme weather, like lots of yearly snowfall, there are some things listed on my page all about keeping rabbits out in the snow that will help you keep your pet comfortable. But obviously, it’s preferable not to keep your pet outdoors in these conditions if possible.
Buy the Correct Hutch for Your Rabbit
Buying a hutch for your rabbit is a pivotal aspect of providing your rabbit with a proper outside home. Rabbits need plenty of space to play, sleep, and exercise. Your rabbit should be able to move in all directions and be able to hop at least four times.
If your rabbit is unable to take multiple hops and move freely, then the hutch is too small. Hutches that are too small for your rabbit can result in health complications. The larger the hutch, the better.
Below is a list of hutches that can be purchased for your rabbit. The hutches below will provide your rabbit with plenty of space.
|Name||Size (Length x Width x Height)||Price|
|Bunny Hutch Indoor and Outdoor-air 10||40.5″ x 26″ x 36″||$239.99|
|Paw Hut Deluxe Wooden 2 Story Rabbit Hutch||25.5″ x 40″ x 39.5″||$232.99|
|Coziwow 57” Chicken Coop Wooden Rabbit Hutch with Slant Roof and Run Weatherproof Indoor and Outdoor Use||57″ x 21″ x 39.5″||$142.99|
|PawHut Wood 2-story Outdoor Deluxe 83-inch XL Rabbit Hutch||82.75″ x 18″ x 33.25″||$166.49|
|PawHut 2-tier Wood Rabbit Hutch Backyard Cage||62″ x 20.75″ x 36.75″||$241.99|
|Pawhut Solid Wood Rabbit Hutch with 2 House Levels and Patio Space||59″ x 20.75″ x 26.75″||$269.98|
These Hutches provide many functions for your rabbit to stay comfortable including shelter from the weather, protection against predators, the space to move around, and overall great living space to reside.
Many of these can be found at various websites including overstock.com, walmart.com, and aivituvin.com. All are reliable websites with good reviews.
Get a Companion for Your Rabbit
Having an outdoor rabbit is a cause of concern for many experts. Outdoor rabbits are unfortunately neglected far too often. Rabbits are sociable animals and they need plenty of interaction. However, having a rabbit be kept outdoors can make it easy to forget about, especially if going outside is not a typical part of your routine.
Rabbits who are kept indoors often fare better than their outdoor counterparts. This is because indoor rabbits are typically provided with more human interaction, are safe from harsh weather conditions, and are protected from predators. Outdoor rabbits can be easily forgotten about and are subject to the previous conditions.
Although keeping a rabbit indoors is strongly suggested, there are ways to provide your outdoor rabbit with more social interaction. The easiest way to do this is to buy two rabbits so they are able to provide each other with company. Rabbits crave relationships and are sociable creatures, which makes having two rabbits a perfect option. Although there are some rabbits that prefer not to be in the presence of other rabbits, most will enjoy the interaction.
I’ve found that how many rabbits you can get, and keep successfully (without much conflict) together in one living area depends on a few key factors. You can find out what those key factors are in my article How Many Rabbits in One Cage? (Hint: It Depends).
– Laura Pierce
If you do decide to purchase two rabbits to provide one another with company, it is still crucial to provide the rabbits with human interaction. Although they have each other, they still require care and attention. Ensure your outdoor rabbits are not neglected and are instead provided with ample love and affection.
Provide a Clean Space for Your Rabbit
Rabbits need a clean hutch, regardless of whether they are kept indoors or outdoors. However, outdoor rabbits will need their hutch cleaned more frequently and more extensively than that of an indoor rabbit.
When cleaning a rabbit hutch, first remove the bedding, replacing it with fresh bedding. When replacing the bedding, look out for uneaten foods and throw them away. Next, wipe down and disinfect the cage. This includes washing the water and food bowls as well. In addition, ensure the litter box is spot cleaned daily.
Your rabbit will be grateful for a clean space and home. If your rabbit hutch is not clean, it can result in your rabbit becoming ill.
Use a Playpen for Your Rabbit
Rabbits love to exercise and to play and need to spend time outside of their hutch. Rabbits need to spend an average of three hours a day outside of their hutch exercising.
Providing your rabbit with a large, safe space to play is essential. Playpens are a great option as they provide abundant space all the while keeping your rabbit in a secure space as to not let it roam.
Below is a list of playpens that can be purchased to ensure your rabbit has a safe space to exercise outside of its cage.
|Name||Size ( Length x Width x Height)||Price|
|Easyfashion 16 Panel Exercise Metal Dog Playpen||Panel Size: 31.5″ x .5″ x 24″||$139.88|
|All Living Things Rabbit Home and Play Pen Habitat||Cage: 47.25″ x 24.5″ x 26.75″|
Playpen: 47″ x 46.5″ x 26.5″
|MidWest Wire Dog Exercise Pen with Step-Thru Door||62″ x 62″ x 24″||$43.99|
|Iris 8-Panel Plastic Exercise Dog Playpen||63″ x 63″ x 34.25″||$83.99|
These playpens provide the space that your bunny needs to get its exercise. But they also provide other amenities such as ramps, and places to hide. Also, some come with watering and feeding capabilities.
These playpens can be found at walmart.com, petsmart.com, and chewy.com.
I keep all my recommendations on what products I find works best for someone bringing home a new pet rabbit on my page Checklist: What You Need to Buy For a New Pet Rabbit. Check it out, it will seriously save you a lot of time and money. I’ve wasted a lot of my own money finding products that work well for our beloved rabbits, check my list so you don’t have to waste yours!
Provide Protection From the Weather
Rabbits who are kept outdoors can become subject to harsh weather conditions. These weather conditions can range from blazing summer heat to frigid winter temperatures. These conditions can cause great harm to your rabbit if it is left outside. However, there are ways to provide protection for your rabbit.
During hot summer days, frozen water bottles can be placed in your rabbit’s cage. This will allow your rabbit to have an escape from the heat with a cool place to relax. In addition, if the weather is particularly warm, ensure the cage is placed somewhere with ample amounts of shade.
DID YOU KNOW? Rabbits living in certain areas should get vaccines to protect them. Especially if they’re going to be spending significant time outdoors. Find out if your rabbit needs any in my guide on rabbit vaccines here.
Rabbits can easily overheat as they are unable to sweat or pant. Because of this, rabbits are particularly susceptible to heatstroke. If the weather is over 85 degrees Fahrenheit, bring your rabbit indoors. Leaving your rabbit outdoors in temperatures above 85 can easily cause overheating and heatstrokes.
During cold winter days, provide your rabbit with more bedding to be used as insulation. In addition to bedding, heaters and heating pads can be purchased for your rabbit during colder months. Although rabbits are well-equipped for colder months due to their thick coat, rabbits should be kept inside when the weather reaches below 40 degrees Fahrenheit.
Rabbits like their space to run, and will prefer to be outdoors, especially if the weather is nice, around their preferred temperature of 65 degrees Fahrenheit. The only time they will want to be indoors is to get out of dangerous weather, but if a hutch or similar protective shelter is provided, your rabbit will likely use that before wanting to come inside.