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Is It Better For Rabbits To Be Inside Or Outside?

Is It Better For Rabbits To Be Inside Or Outside?

Which is happier, an indoor rabbit or a rabbit that lives outside? The truth is, rabbits can be healthy and happy indoors or outdoors, provided they have a safe, spacious enclosure, enough exercise, and plenty of social interaction.

Is it Better for Rabbits to be Inside or Outside?

Inside or outside? That’s a hot topic. Some feel very strongly both ways. What’s more, both sides have some compelling arguments.

Why Rabbits Should Live Outdoors

Pet rabbits aren’t wild animals, but they are descended from them. Many rabbit owners feel that pet rabbits happiest when they can be surrounded by nature.

Also, rabbits need to be able to indulge in natural behaviours such as:

  • Running
  • Hopping
  • Digging
  • Chewing
  • Foraging
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Outdoor rabbit proponents believe that if you keep your rabbit outdoors, it gives rabbits the best chance at a more natural life.

Finally, there are a host of household dangers that a rabbit won’t encounter outside. These include:

  • Electrocution from chewing on cords
  • Poisoning from household cleaners
  • Being accidentally stepped on or sat upon
  • Getting stuck in or under furniture

In many ways, it makes sense to keep your rabbit outdoors.

Why Rabbits Should Live Inside

At the same time, there are numerous reasons to keep your rabbits indoors.

First, you can’t beat an indoor enclosure for protection from extreme weather, especially in winter.

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Also, predators can’t get to your rabbits if you keep them in the house. House rabbits are also less likely to pick up diseases from garden visitors.

Finally, if you keep your rabbits indoors, they’re more likely to be a regular part of family life than they would be if they lived outside of the house.

There are  a lot of arguments for house rabbits.

So, Should Rabbits Live Inside or Outside?

The fact is, rabbits can thrive indoors or outdoors. Either way, though, they’ll still need the same elements of proper care.

Generous Living Space

Nobody likes to feel boxed in, and that includes your bunny. Whether you’re keeping your rabbits in the house or in the garden, they will need the same, very generous amount of space.

All rabbits need, at minimum:

  • Enough horizontal space to let your rabbit hop three times from end to end
  • Vertical space to stand up on hind legs without ears touching the ceiling
  • Floor space to let your rabbit to stretch out completely
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In terms of measurement, the Rabbit Welfare Association and Fund recommends a hutch that’s a minimum of six feet long by two feet high by two feet wide.

That goes for an indoor hutch as well as an outdoor hutch.

But a hutch is only the beginning.

Exercise Space

In the wild, rabbits have a home range of around 20 acres. They may hop as much as three miles a day. Pet rabbits, whether they live indoors or outdoors need exercise, too. 

The truth is, rabbits can be healthy and happy indoors or outdoors, provided they have a safe, spacious enclosure, enough exercise, and plenty of social interaction. Click To Tweet

If your rabbit lives outside, a run can provide a safe place for your bunnies to exercise, dig, and play. Some rabbit runs attach directly to a hutch to provide rabbits with all-day access to exercise on their schedule. 

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Indoor bunnies may enjoy having a large rabbit-proofed room to run about in. Alternately, you could section off part of a room with a large puppy pen. To combine social time with exercise time, place the pen in the same room where your family gathers for together time.

And if you’re feeling ambitious, you can build your own custom rabbit palace that works with your space, whether in the house or out in the garden.

Socialization

Rabbits are social animals. They’re happiest when they have a friend. And most rabbits love spending time with their human companions, too. Whether your rabbit lives inside or out, you should make the time to visit with them every day. 

This is especially important if you have a single rabbit.

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For indoor rabbits, make sure their enclosure is in a place where people pass by or gather regularly. Many rabbits also enjoy spending time with their families while watching TV or relaxing after dinner.

Your outdoor rabbit hutch should stand near your house, if possible. If you and your rabbit can see each other, your rabbit will be less lonely. Make sure to visit with your outdoor rabbit every day, no matter where the hutch is. 

Why not set up an exercise pen outdoors, grab a book and some bunny toys, and combine social time with exercise?

Mental Stimulation

Whoever came up with the expression “dumb bunny” never met a rabbit!

Rabbits are quite intelligent and need regular mental stimulation to stay happy and healthy.

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Exercise and a lively social life are important for everybunny. Also, make sure their hutch and run have plenty of toys and boredom busters to keep them occupied when you’re not around. 

An activity tunnel is active fun for one bunny or more. Chew toys will keep both mind and teeth in good condition. And puzzle toys can give that bunny brain a workout.

Safety

Whether your rabbit lives inside or out, safety comes first.

Rabbits love to chew, and they’ll chew on anything within reach, whether it’s good for them or not.

Both indoor and outdoor enclosures need to be chew-proofed. Use a pet-safe chew deterrent to protect your rabbit’s hutch. Indoors, cover baseboards and furniture legs. Cover all cords and wires or lift them out of the way.

You don’t have to worry about predators indoors. But if your bunny lives outside, it’s important to predator-proof your hutch and run. 

You should also take measures to dig proof outdoor enclosures so that your rabbits can’t dig out, and no one else can dig in.

And pet rabbits, outdoors or in, need clean bedding and litter for comfort and cold weather protection, especially in the cold of winter.

Food and Water

It goes without saying that all rabbits need adequate food, water and hay for both eating and bedding.

Is it Cruel to Keep a Rabbit Indoors?

A lot of people have a lot of different opinions about this. There are people who believe it’s cruel to keep a rabbit indoors, and others who believe that rabbits should only live indoors. There are rabbit hutch enthusiasts, and people who believe that rabbit hutches are cruel.

In our opinion, a rabbit can live happily as long as it has:

  • A safe, spacious enclosure
  • Daily exercise
  • Company
  • Regular mental stimulation
  • Adequate food, water, and hay

And really, that goes for the rest of us, as well — except for the hay, of course.

Do Indoor Rabbits Need to Go Outside?

Again, it’s not an absolute necessity like food and water. However, many indoor rabbits love to have a bit of time to run about outside, dig, nibble on grass, and play in the sunshine.

Even if your rabbits live inside, they can still benefit from outdoor exercise. Our folding runs are an excellent solution, as they fold up and out of the way when not in use. 

Happy Rabbits Indoors or Out

Your rabbit can be happy and healthy, whether they live indoors or out — provided that they have all the essentials.

What do you think? Tell us about it!

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Jess Faraday

Jess Faraday is a longtime bunny lover and a mom to a succession of rescue rabbits. She enjoys sharing her knowledge and experience and hopes that it will make the world a better place for bunnies

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