SaveABunny recommends your companion rabbit be housed indoors. Personalities emerge when your rabbit gets to know you, and their potential is realized when you enjoy each others’ companionship. Rabbits living outside generally only live a few years, while indoor rabbits can live 8-10+ years.
- Predators: Even in the most urban environment, outdoor rabbits are vulnerable to predators including feral cats, hawks, dogs, raccoons, and people. There is no such thing as a hutch that is safe from predators. Determined predators can bend or break wire; agile ones can open cage doors. Sometimes even the sight of a predator can trigger an extreme reaction in your rabbit; a panic attack during which she runs wildly, twists, and thrashes. A rabbit in this state can break her own back, or die from a heart attack.
- Exposure: Rabbits are extremely susceptible to the elements, especially heat. Temperatures above eighty (80) degrees can cause heat stroke and/or death. Placing a fan near the bunny will not help. Since rabbits cannot sweat, they cannot benefit from the evaporation cooling that humans enjoy when the wind blows on their sweat. Signs of heat stress include panting, drooling, rapid breathing or pulse and lethargy. If bunny shows any of these signs, wipe down his ears with a cool rag, put him in his carrier along with a large ice bottle and GET TO THE VET IMMEDIATELY, it is a life or death situation. Heat is the number one killer of out-door pet rabbits.
- Poisonous Plants: Many people believe that a bunny browsing in the yard will instinctively avoid poisonous plants. But our domesticated rabbits have long since lost that survival instinct. We advise making a list of all plants growing in the yard, and checking the list for poisonous plants. Your bunny is also at risk from toxic pesticides and fertilizers.
- Pests & Parasites: Rabbits living outside are susceptible to fleas, ticks, mites, and worms. These are physically dangerous for your rabbit, as well as extremely uncomfortable. Your rabbit will also be vulnerable to diseases such as raccoon roundworm, fly strike, West Nile, and myxomatosis.
- Illness: The sad truth is that rabbits living outdoors simply can’t be constantly monitored for the small changes in behavior that can signal health problems. Being prey items, rabbits tend to hide their symptoms until they are very sick. If they live indoors with you, you can observe them very well, and because you become familiar with their behavior patterns, you will notice if they are the slightest bit “off.” Monitoring the health of any living being can be a life or death issue.
- Boredom & Depression: Your rabbit is a very social animal, and she deserves love and interaction with her human family.
Rabbits Indoors: The Good News!
Rabbits are intelligent, sensitive and have delightfully strong personalities. What a tragic waste of a spirit to put one in a cage. They can learn their names, play with toys, and dance when they are happy!
Give your bunny a chance to show you what a wonderful member of the family she can become. Bring her indoors where she belongs.