The question of whether to keep your rabbit inside or outside is widely and passionately contested amongst bunny owners. There is no right or wrong answer to this question, and your personal solution depends on your own values, and what you think is best for your rabbit. In this article, I aim to provide an insight into the positives and negatives of both keeping your rabbit inside, or keeping them outside. Hopefully, we shed some light on the raising of indoor and outdoor rabbits so you can make the choice that is right for you.
Keeping Your Rabbit Inside
Let us begin this section with a fact – rabbits are animals, and they are not meant to naturally live indoors. BUT – they are a prey species, and can be safer indoors in many (and most) cases. This is why keeping a rabbit inside is the first option for most people. Here, I’ll provide some pros (positives) and cons (negatives) of keeping your rabbit indoors.
Pros of Keeping Your Bunny Inside
It means that your rabbit is safe from predators. Of course, this is under the condition that your other pets are well-trained. If you’re looking for more information about this – WikiHow has an excellent piece about how to keep a bunny and a cat, and The Nest has a great article about socialising a bunny and a dog.
It provides protection from mosquitoes and fleas. When considering “predators” of rabbits, it is also important to consider parasites that are attracted to rabbits – in particular mosquitoes and fleas. Of course, there are going to be significantly less parasites indoors than outdoors. So in this respect, I would recommend you keep your bunny inside. This is particularly important if you live in a country (such as Australia) where mosquitos and fleas carry diseases that are fatal to rabbits, such as myxomatosis.
Aside from predators, keeping your rabbit inside also keeps them safe from weather conditions. In the case of extreme heat or severe snow, there’s no “wondering” or “hoping” that your outdoor rabbits are okay – because your rabbit is comfortable inside.
You may find it relaxing for you as an owner to keep your rabbit inside. Rabbits are a common stress-relieving pet, and if this is your reason for owning a bunny, it would be much more effective to keep your rabbit inside with you.
Rabbits are easier to keep an eye on, play with, and monitor their health when indoors. If your rabbit is an indoor rabbit, it is likely you are going to spend much more time with them so they will not get lonely. This also means that as their owner you can keep an eye on their health, notice behavioural changes and watch for signs of disease and illness.
Rabbit poop is easier to clean than other animal poop. Even if your indoor bunny is litter-trained, it is nearly impossible to avoid finding those little pellets of poop around your house. But remember – rabbit poops are hard. They are easy to clean and will hardly stain sheets or furniture. In comparison to more traditional pets, rabbit poop is easy to deal with.
Your rabbit will likely be more sociable and less aggressive. If you own a bunny, you probably know how nice those bunny cuddles are! Keeping your rabbit indoors allows them to begin to feel more comfortable around you. As you play with them more, your rabbit will become more sociable and will grow less aggressive. In the long run, this makes them easier to handle in nearly every single way.
Cons of Keeping Your Bunny Inside
You may have to worry about potential damage to your house. As bunny owners, we know that our rabbits are inclined to chew, dig, burrow and explore in their natural habitat. Taking them out of their natural habitat won’t change this – your rabbit is going to chew, dig, burrow and explore regardless of whether they are kept inside or outside. For some, this poses the question of whether you’d rather your rabbit demolish your garden or your furniture – but damage to your house can definitely be avoided. Try your best to protect your furniture, rugs, and electronics from your rabbits.
You need to be weary of other pets. This holds in particular if you own a large dog, who are natural predators of rabbits. This said, I personally feel that your rabbit is more exposed to predators when left outside. That is, outdoor rabbits will have to face wild cats, foxes, snakes and various other predators. For more information about training your non-rabbit pets, see the articles I’ve linked above.
Your rabbit might put on a little weight! I’m sure a chubby rabbit is pretty cute, but we need to remember that bunnies burn energy by regulating their temperature. If we keep them inside where the temperature is regulated for them, your rabbit might get a little pudgy! Just as it can with humans, this can pose significant health risks. Also note that your bunny will likely get hot quite easily (particularly if they’re a fluffy rabbit).
If you’ve decided to keep your rabbit inside, please don’t keep them stuck in their cage the whole time! Bunnies need more space than a lot of owners give them – make your bunny happy by providing them with heaps of time outside of their cage to play with you and their toys. I would highly recommend the Precision Pet Ultimate Exercise Pen from Amazon to give your bunny some extra space while ensuring they don’t get to anywhere they shouldn’t be! You can check the current price of the product on Amazon by clicking the link.
For more help with keeping your rabbit inside, please see our article “5 Simple Steps To Rabbit Proof Your Home”. This way, you, your family and your house will be best prepared when you make the decision to keep your bunny inside.
Keeping Your Rabbit Outside
Many bunny owners will opt to keep their rabbit outside. There are so many reasons for this, and I’d like to cover a few of them.
Pros of Keeping Your Bunny Outside
You can play it safe with your allergies. If you’re someone who gets allergic from pets, whether that be rabbits, cats or dogs, it can be highly beneficial to keep your rabbit outside. This way, you can experience the joys of owning a bunny without having to deal with those nasty allergies they can bring on.
Your rabbit is safe from your pets. If you have other pets in your house, keeping your rabbit outside may be a better option. You won’t have to consistently keep an eye on your rabbit and your other pet to ensure they are playing safely. This said, there are many other predators your rabbit is at risk of when kept outside.
Your house may be too small for a rabbit. If your living space is too small for a rabbit, but your backyard is decently sized, then I would highly recommend keeping your rabbit outside. This is where your bunny will have the most space to run around and have fun! Don’t forget – rabbits are outdoor animals by nature… Which gets me onto my next point.
Your bunny can lead a more natural life. As I said before, your rabbit is naturally inclined to burrow, chew and explore. Keeping your bunny outside can satisfy their natural urges to do these things – in general this will make your bunny very content. Of course, you’ll need to be very careful of your garden!
Cons of Keeping Your Bunny Outside
You’ll have to put in some work. If you keep your bunny outside, I cannot encourage you enough to ensure you provide them a predator proof area that is still large enough for them to live normally. Your rabbit enclosure should be at minimum 7x2x2 feet (213x61x61 centimetres). You should also have wire buried around the perimeter of the enclosure to stop your rabbits from digging out and other predators from digging in.
You mightn’t be able to keep your rabbits outside all the time. Preferably, you would want to keep your rabbit in the house at night (perhaps in an indoor hutch). This is when predator danger for rabbits is highest.
Your rabbit may become sad and lonely. If you are not spending enough time with your outdoor rabbit, or they do not have any bunny companions, they will actually become lonesome and depressed – of course we don’t want this for our rabbits!
You’ll still have to keep them close. If you opt to keep your rabbits outdoors, your best option is still to keep them close to your residence so that you can keep an eye on them and make sure they are safe. Keeping them any further than a few metres away from your house is quite risky and dangerous.
Climate may be an issue. If you live somewhere cold, your rabbit’s water supply may freeze. You’re either going to have to change it multiple times a day, or use a heated water battle. In the end, it doesn’t matter which method you choose, as long as your bunny has the water they need. Alternatively, if you live in a hot climate, your rabbit may overheat – particularly if they are fluffy. You’ll need to provide cool water for your rabbit consistently.
You will need to bunny proof your garden. We have an article on this coming, but for now – it is of utter importance that you eliminate any toxic plants from your garden. SaveAFluff.co.uk has an extensive list of plants that are poisonous for your rabbit. Check it out here.
You’ll have to watch out for large birds. If your rabbit is left “free” to roam the backyard, they are at risk of predators such as owls and hawks. This is why I would recommend enclosing your rabbits such that they have a roof. Also – if your bunny is at the stage where they are in extensive fear of a predator, they are actually at risk of a heart attack. Even if the predator doesn’t get to them in the end, your rabbit may still have a heart attack from their fear. By predator-proofing your bunny’s enclosure as much as possible, you can decrease this risk.
If you decide on keeping your rabbit outside, I would only do so if they are kept in a large, weather-proof and weather-proof enclosure. Furthermore, if you live in a country such as Australia where vaccines for fatal viruses like myxomatosis are banned, you need to make sure your hutch is mosquito proof. I speak from experience here – losing your rabbits to myxomatosis is truly heartbreaking.
Now that we’ve discussed some of the pros and cons of keeping your rabbit inside or outside, it now up to you to decide what to do based on your circumstances. Just make sure that your rabbit is not left alone for long periods of time, and ensure to check on your bunny’s health regularly.
If your rabbit is kept inside, make sure your house is rabbit proofed and if they are kept outside, make sure they are protected from predators.
Overall, ensure that your rabbit gets:
- Lots of high quality food
- Clean Water
And most of all, make sure you show your rabbit some love. They are social creatures, and they will forever enjoy your company if you show them you enjoy theirs.
Do you keep your rabbit inside or outside? Leave a comment to let us know, and tell us your best pieces of advice for keeping rabbits either inside or outside!