If you are thinking about housing a rabbit outside, there a number of things to consider. From what kind of pet housing your rabbits will need to other mundane things like a litter box, the time of year and the right exercise area.
To home your rabbit safely outdoors, you will need to an outdoor rabbit hutch. An indoor rabbit hutch will also suffice, but chances are your rabbit will benefit more from being able to run around in its cage. A benefit that not many indoor cages allow.
As pet owners, you would want your outdoor hutch to not just provide shelter from extreme weather conditions but also protect your rabbit from any would-be predators and also provide a resting area.
Whatever housing you choose for your rabbits is fine, as long as all the necessary conditions for a proper shelter are met. Before we dive deeper into the outdoor rabbit hutch options what key things should you consider before housing your rabbit outside.
Can a House Rabbit Live Outside
Your house rabbit can definitely be housed outside and live a very fulfilled life. Due to their delicate nature, rabbits need a lot of care and attention. They also require very specific living conditions in order to stay healthy and happy.
Due to the nature of rabbits, housing them can sometimes be a little tricky. So what should rabbit owners think about when housing your pet rabbit?
Can my house rabbits live and survive outside during winter?
The answer is yes, house rabbits can live and survive winter conditions all year round. Rabbits rely on their thick fur coats and fur pads on their feet – unique features that rabbits have which allows them to survive in the cold.
You also have the option of getting your rabbit a heating pad for its outdoor hutch. This just needs to be laid beneath its bedding and it will allow a subtle source of heat during the cold winter months.
Can I safely keep my rabbits outside?
If you plan on housing a bunny outside, it is important that you also consider the following;
Predators – Rabbit welfare is something you should be aware of if you want to house your rabbits outside, as your pet rabbits are prey animals. They have no means of protection against predators like cats and dogs. Protecting them from harm from these wild animals is strictly your responsibility. Racoons, hawks and foxes are also predators of rabbits.
Escape – When your rabbits live outside, you also stand the risk of losing them when they escape from their cages. Rabbits are very fond of digging holes, if your cages are mounted on soft grasses and soils then you should probably fortify it to prevent your rabbits from escaping.
Poisonous vegetation – If your rabbits live outside then they are exposed to poisonous vegetations and flowers that can be harmful to them. They easily graze on anything mainly due to their chewing nature, which can also be a disadvantage to them.
The weather – You may have to tweak your rabbit’s houses a little bit to ensure their survival on extreme weather conditions. Rabbits are delicate and they do not handle extreme cold well. Heat stroke is also a possibility that you need to be aware of when the weather temperature spikes
Loneliness – If your outdoor bunnies don’t have a companion, they can become very lonely, which can make them very unhappy. Social interaction is very important for your rabbit’s mental health.
What do I do to keep my bunnies happy and safe?
If you want to consider keeping your bunnies happy and safe, you should consider doing the following;
- Your rabbits need a spacious enclosure and a clean litter tray
- They need a designated space for exercise, that is at least 3 times bigger than their hutches
- As mentioned before, they also need some form of protection from predators
- Be sure to keep their homes dry and wet free
- Lastly, you need to consider their mental state by providing some form of entertainment or companion.
Why should I keep my pet rabbits outside
Rabbits have thick fur on their bodies, which means they tend to do well more in much colder temperatures than they do in hot temperatures. So a temperature that is comfortable for you as their owner may not be ideal for your rabbits.
Providing some form of balance in their need for an adequate temperature is a major reason why your bunnies need to be kept outside every once in a while, even if they are not outdoor rabbits. Although there are certain breeds of bunnies that are well suited to be raised or housed outside.
They include the English Butterfly, Blanc de Hotots and the Britannia Petites and Belgian Hares.
Also providing outdoor accommodations for your rabbits makes it easier for them to get some form of exercise. But securing these accommodations outside should be your utmost priority before taking them out.
Can I use a heating pad to keep a rabbit warm during winter
Electric heating pads should not be used on your rabbit’s cage or hutch. As mentioned earlier, rabbits are animals that enjoy chewing and they stand a high risk of electrocution with these heating pads. Use a wireless heat pad that is safer for rabbits instead (link to Amazon). Although they are expensive they are better than heating pads and are sure to provide warmth for your rabbits for several hours.
It is also worth noting that you should not keep your rabbits near a heat source that they cannot get away from. It can lead to severe dehydration and possible burns.
Raising rabbits outdoors can be a little tricky. Outdoor rabbits can be housed in large rabbit hutches made of wood, metal, or wire cages. But know that these rabbit hutches can be very expensive to purchase or build. The wire rabbit cages are less expensive and cheap compared to the others, but it does not provide much comfort and protection for your rabbits.
Metal rabbit hutches are also good, but there’s a higher chance that they will get hot and uncomfortable for your rabbits during summer. Wooden cages are the best option for rabbit housings. Not only do they provide protection and comfort during summertime but most domestic rabbits seem to live these cages.
Metal cages are extremely frowned on as housing for your pet rabbits, especially during summer. Since rabbits do not sweat or pant, the only way for them to stay cool is through their ear veins.
The heat stress from the summer sun that these rabbits are exposed to, may eventually overwhelm their respiratory mechanism and can lead to various health complications, dehydration and ultimately death.
So, if you must use a metal rabbit hutch, make sure it is mounted in a cool area like a shady tree or a verandah.
Ideally, an outdoor rabbit hutch is supposed to have two protecting areas that may or may not be connected together. The first area usually has a wire mesh door that allows light and air ventilation to pass through and also protects your bunnies from insects like mosquitoes, which can cause harm to your bunnies.
The second area should provide protection against extreme weather conditions and climatic changes. These include protection from rain (heavy or mild), sun cold and harsh winds. Also install a hinged door on your rabbits’ cages or hutch, usually at the top to give you easy access to clean their cages.
The flooring of the cages should be layered with old newspaper or hay before putting your rabbits inside. These tend to have a cushioning effect for your rabbits and provides some kind of warmth too. Since you are using wire as a means of protection on your cages, place a rug or a board on the floor of the cage to prevent injury to the feet of your rabbits.
Also, avoid placing your cages or hutches directly on the ground, the cages should be mounted above the bare ground and made secure from animals like dogs, cats and any other predator capable of causing harm to your bunnies.
When it deciding on the size of rabbit cages or hutches to go for, it will usually depend on four factors;
- The size of the rabbits (adult sizes or baby sizes)
- The number of bunnies you intend to keep
- The duration in which you will be keeping these rabbits.
- How much time they spend in their hutches.
Irrespective of these factors, as a general rule, the larger the housing for your rabbits, the better it is for them and for you as their owner. Rabbit hutches or cages must have a place or compartment for food and water.
Note – rabbits can be potty trained. So place a litter lined with newspapers and hay in their cages and ensure to clean it out every morning.