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The subject of intentional breeding or meat rabbits is prohibited. The answers provided on this board are for general guideline purposes only. The information is not intended to diagnose or treat your pet. It is your responsibility to assess the information being given and seek professional advice/second opinion from your veterinarian and/or qualified behaviorist.
I know we are all house rabbit people here, and that we can agree the outdoors pose many risks to our bunnys. I have notice, however, a lot of people who let their bunnies on an enclosed porch, patio, or backyard.
I just signed the lease for an apartment with a nice, smallish enclosed grass yard with high, narrowly spaced wooden fencing all around it. Do you think it would be safe to give my bunnys supervised romps? This is the first time I will have lived somewhere with an area like this where I dont have to worry about dogs, predatory birds or escape.
What have your personal experiences been?
I think as long as they are supervised and there are no predators, they will be fine to play outside!
Last summer I was too hesitant to take my bunnies outside. We have a chain-link fenced back yard- but I am afraid that it would not be secure enough if my bunny were to panic (My dog chased a wild rabbit and it tried to squeeze thru a link and broke its neck- horrible, I know).
This year we had some nice days already- and I took my extra dog crate outside- set in up on level ground- and did not use the tray. So the bunnies were in a secure crate- sides and top and they could nibble the grass, etc. I sat in a lawn chair by them to keep an eye on them. If they started to dig, I would have stopped them, but they did not dig. The gaps on the bottom are large enough for a bunny to squeeze thru if they were to dig out. But anything with smaller gaps/grate- would make it harder for them to enjoy standing on the grass. All of my bunnies have been hosed inside in the crate (rotating for bonding)- so they have been in the crate in the house before. As long as the crate is level- there is no way to escape without digging (a lot).
Just make sure that your grass is not and will not be treated with anything. I only have one small area in our yard that I know is higher than our neighbors ground water level and far enough away from the fence borders that I do not worry about chemicals from the neighbors treating THEIR yard. (I am a paranoid bunny Mom).
In a smaller yard, it should be easy to supervise. Will this be just yours or shared with other neighbours? Main thing is check it’s not treated ^^. And be prepared for the endless begging to go back out once they had the experience!
I’ve let Jersey explore outside, it’s good exercise, a nice sensory experience.
I am unable to allow my bunnies outside. We live on 4 acres, but it is partially wooded and it is FLEA INFESTED. Our neighbors have a dog and she always needs flea treatments. We have petsat my parents dogs for a couple weeks, and they were infested by the time my parents got back (this was before we had bunnies.) Our yard does receive fetilization as well, so it’s basically a big NO at my house.
If fleas and fertilization were not a problem, I might allow them outside, but it would be like Katnip said, in an enclosed area with supervision. I would not trust a fence unless I had built it into the ground, there may be small gaps along the bottom you can’t see, or another animal (dog or cat) could get inside the yard.
Ok thanks guys. I’m a paranoid mom, I have no idea what I’ll do when I have human children one day.
I’m definitely going to ask the landlord about pesticides, and I might run some kind of chicken wire along the bottom just to be sure. The yard isn’t shared, so I won’t have to worry about dogs or anything like that. And it is very small, about the size of a large bedroom so it will be easy to keep an eye on them. The only door in or out goes to the kitchen, so I wont have to worry about them escaping as someone leaves.
Hi dlscanne! I would not totally rule out birds of prey as a potential threat to your rabbits. They have been known to habitate in downtown areas, especially with tall buildings and the abundance of pigeons. A few other considerations with be alley cats, where the garbage is located, fleas, ticks, flies, rats, mice, spiders, cockroaches (they carry disease) etc. I really do not want to scare you but be sure that your bun is safe.
Here is some info both on the pros and cons of allowing your rabbit outside:
This is on Summer & Winter dangers but also is helpful to read with regards to pests to watch out for as well and why (just like I listed above – flies, fleas etc.)
You have to be paranoid but they can go outside and enjoy it. Previously I’ve leashed mine, and let the leash drag behind them so I could grab them easily if needed and then sort of followed them around my parent’s fenced garden that’s in their fenced yard (The garden is great because it has all bunny safe veggies they can just eat while they are in their playing-Kale, strawbery leaves, beet and carrot tops-they loved it)
This is Kahlua and my rainbow bridge bunny Kokanee enjoying the garden
I’m moving and I’m going to be building my bunnies a run in the yard. They will need to be supervised, just because we need to be paranoid, but I hope that they can spend some sunny Sunday afternoons out there while mom gardens! I am burying a mesh floor under the ground-that way they can dig and play and feel like they are on the ground-but nothing could dig in and they can’t dig out. It will have a roof as well-just so we don’t have to worry about birds-and the roof will need some partial opaque covering so that there is always shade-I’ll post pictures when I’ve finished it-I’m really excited and had this planned out in my head for years now for when I owned a home-now I finally get to bruise my thumbs and build it!
I have a large yard that is not treated with chemicals and last summer I tried a number of different set-ups, but I was really paranoid about them all because I have a high predator presence, bald eagle, foxes, coyotes, wolverine, WEASELS…. In the end, I wired in my patio because the proximity to the house is an effective deterrent for most predator species. However, I still fear the weasels which are common in my area. They will chew through wire, climb things, even get into people’s basements. They can strangle an even much larger rabbit. Fortunately, these are night hunters *mostly*. I finally started to relax and give my rabbits regular outdoor time once I could trust my dogs around my rabbits. My female dog loves to hang out with the rabbits on the patio, she is my designated rabbit sitter. The patio is nice because I don’t have to carry my rabbits outside, they just hop out on their own, there are no bugs from the ground, and they cannot dig out. On the down side, the wooden floor is not as much fun for them as earth would be… If you are putting your rabbits on the ground outside, the meshing that KK mentioned is a terrific idea, I might try it this year. A cover on the enclosure is a life saver, too. I think, my biggest mistake was to build my enclosure too large, it was really hard to check it all the time. Sometimes I’ve used a long tunnel built out of NIC grids and woven grass into the roof part for disguise and shade.
Here’s a weird thing that happened when I still had a large enclosure in my yard. One afternoon I saw a red squirrel trying to get into my rabbits’ pen: he was yanking at the wire and getting angrier and angrier, I’d never seen anything like it. He ran back and forth along the wire trying to find a way in. I never left any food/treats in the enclosure because of mice and I still wonder what that squirrel wanted.
Petzy, I too have a designated rabbit sitter! My rabbits spend most weekends (during the day) outside on our front lawn in an ex-pen with a sheet attached to the top. We have all sorts of dandelions and grasses growing on our lawn so the rabbits love it! I am always slightly worried that a hawk could go through the sheet and grab the rabbits, but with the dog right next to the pen, I find that unlikely, especially since the bird would have to be low enough to see under the sheet, which hangs low on the sides. I’m always a few feet away as well. I would really like to get one of those metal covers for the ex-pen though, that would really give me peace of mind. I don’t worry about cats, since our own keep the others away, and they think the rabbits are part of their ‘pack’. Plus they keep the mice, rats, and squirrels at bay. The main reason I have my rabbits outside so much is that it was the most ideal place to bond my rabbits. Not to mention that Hubble won’t eat a lot of hay, but he loves the grass.
Lostbutnotforgot, funny, you mentioned the outdoor bonding.. I just did that with mine a few weeks ago on my patio. I also find that when my rabbits have been outside they are much quieter during the night.
I had a young eagle touch down on the mesh cover on my rabbit pen that I since took apart. If it hadn’t been for my dogs barking up a storm and making general chaos the eagle would have grabbed my enclosure in its entirety, the bird was very large. My rabbit did run into his shed, though, to safety. That was the last time I used the pen. For the cover, I really would like something that isn’t see-through.
I will ask my landlord about chemical treatment, although the area is quite “crunchy” so I doubt pesticides have been used. I think I will still build them their own enclosure, I agree with everyone…better safe then sorry. I’m spending several weeks with my parents and my dad has a huge workshop, so that should do the trick. Unfortunately warm months are sparse in my area, but I feel like they would appreciate the experience, as brief as it might be.
LOL That’s so cute about the designated rabbit sitter! I was thinking that yesterday-I had four guinea pigs when I was younger and we made a pen for them in my yard. We never had to worry as my dog was out there and she’d lay with the guinea pigs (This was a border collie with no predator instincts, who’d sometimes get jealous and steal their lettuce-she’d reluctantly eat it after feeling guilty for stealing) and sometimes be the last member in the guinea pig train! (Guinea pigs love going around in a train, head to bum head to bum, doggie behind them looking ashamed LOL). She was a fantastic pig-sitter, as she was so gentle but kept cats and things out of the yard. Every year we’d have some baby birds or squirrels pushed out of their nests-and we’d find them because Molly was laying on the grass beside them keeping them safe! She was such a sweetheart.
For those who have used leashes, how safe are they? I don’t have a fenced in area that would be escape proof, so any outdoors time would need to be on a leash. I’m not very comfortable with it, but wanted to hear others experiences.
Here’s a good article from one of our vets about rabbits and the outdoors and why she does not recommend this – there’s more out there in the dirt and grass than meets the eye:
The Indoor Bunny
by Loretta Pantenburg, DVM
Summertree Animal & Bird Clinic
I know rabbit owners often think that their rabbits would love to be able to play outside, but is that what your bunny really wants? And, more importantly, is that what is best for your bunny? As a veterinarian, I see the sad side of what happens when pet rabbits are allowed outside. I see the rabbits with heat stress that die because their owners did not realize that rabbits do not tolerate temperatures over 80 degrees for long. Rabbits that are kept inside in the cool air conditioning, then put outside to “play” in temperatures they are not accustomed to, often get heat stress, or worse, heat stroke. The few rabbits that survive heatstroke must be monitored for days afterwards for signs of kidney failure.
Sometimes when rabbits are let outside the neighborhood dog or cat gets in the yard, resulting in injuries or heat stress from being chased, or bite wounds from the dog or cat. Anything that frightens a rabbit (ie: dog, cat, loud noises, etc.) can result in the bunny kicking and hurting, or even possibly breaking, its back.
What other problems do we see when rabbits are kept outside? Rabbits are very good at escaping from very small gaps in a fence and they almost never survive to return home. External parasites are a big problem, especially in Texas and other warm states. The most common parasites we see are fleas and mites. These can lead to skin irritation and, in severe cases, significant blood loss or anemia. Fleas are a host for tapeworms.
We also see fly larvae (Cuterebra) and tapeworm infestation. This begins as eggs or larvae in the soil which then migrates through the skin to cause local abscesses and infection. In severe cases, brain or neurological damage may occur. Treatment often requires surgery or prolonged antibiotic therapy. Fly bites may carry pox virus, which can cause lesions that occlude the rabbits sight or breathing and make them vulnerable to infection. Shope’s fibroma is a tumor caused by a virus, carried by vectors (like flies), that is seen in rabbits.
By far the most common, and worst, thing we see is the bunny that comes in with maggots in its skin. This is usually around the rectal area, secondary to urine or feces getting on the fur, and flies laying eggs on the area. The result is usually a very sick rabbit with severe skin wounds and infection. Treatment usually involves anesthetizing the rabbit, removing the maggots, cleaning and debriding the wounds, treating with antibiotics, and LOTS of follow-up care by both the owner and the veterinarian.
So what do I, as a veterinarian, recommend? Try setting up a play area inside your house. Include a variety of play toys, items to chew on, and ideally a companion rabbit. Provide a rabbit-safe environment, free from the worries of heat stress, injury, trauma, and parasites, and your bunny won’t miss the outside. He will also enjoy a longer, healthier, happier life.
At our other place, we used to have a great small outdoor secure area, but here in our current place, I haven’t taken them out as much because I have to really get things set-up, I either sit inside combined xpens with them or I cover it up and sit next to them. The other thing is that I always have to pre-treat them with Advantage otherwise they WILL get fleas. They never did when I lived in San Francisco, but where I live now is a little more rural (for here) and with all the yards and animals, fleas are always about.
There was also a scary story of a member here who had her front porch – partially covered and a hawk came down to get her bunny. Her bunny ended up dragging the hawk almost inside before it let go! SCARY!
Well… I used to take Cotton out on a leash. the jacket type they can get out of if they panic and go backwards hitting the end of the leash turning them backwards it can come right off. I almost lost him one day like that.
I like the string type harnesses that adjust to size easily. I put those on tight but enuf that bunny can breathe. Cotton panics and I won’t take him out except for the porch holding him and at the dock.
Ruby is very calm and I can take her out without worrying about her panicing.
There can be fleas parasites and such for bunnies to catch. Pesticides fertilizers. Or a real good time to be had without worry. It all just depends.
I bought one of those puppy play yards at a garage sale….she loves it! I put her outside in the grass to hop around, with water and some food and toys, or in the screened in porch. I make sure that I am always out there, never leave her unattended and she tires her little self right out. it’s hysterical to watch too. It’s kinda become a Friday night summertime routine at my house. I make a pitcher of margaritas and catch up with my best friend (who coincidentally lives next door) and we sit on the porch while Sophie exhausts herself running and binkying!
dmh – That sounds so fun! Friday – Bunny, Best Friend and Margarita day! I want to do that now.
i agree margaritas with bunnies and friends sounds like the best possible situation. Thanks for all the great info guys! I’ll definitely take all the safety issues into consideration. I think i’m going to make an area that is enclosed from all sides. It will be a nice summer building project. Does anyone have a good link for building plans?
Oh and about the leash I tried it once with Frank and I didn’t find it safe enough. I had the rope kind and even when it was tightly locked she could undo it, and then it would start to strangle her. She hated the whole ordeal. Personally I don’t use leashes anymore but the vest type seem the safest to me.
My rabbit Ludicris lived in my back yard for a while before I discovered and rescued him. His neglectful previous owners (our neighbors 2 doors down!) got tired of having him in the house and turned him out into the back yard. Three of us have houses all in a row with adjoining back yards- that’s how I found my BunBun (aka Ludicris). There are woods beyond the lawns that are home to many predators- coyotes, fisher cats, hawks, raccoons… and in front of the houses is the main road. How that little bunny survived is beyond me.
I feel kinda guilty keepng him inside when he had so much fun outside- the day I met him he was grazing happily and came to play with me as I was sitting in the yard- he started jumping over my legs and kicking dirt at me- it was love at first sight <3. But even if I built an enclosure I would be afraid of something happening- we also have snakes in our back yard. I don't think they bite but ya never know. I figure, he has all the love he wanted here with us, plus the run of the whole downstairs (him and Nelli are never caged, even at night), so hopefully he's happy enough inside. His wife, Nelli, is much too nervous to go outside anyway- it would push her right over the edge.
My rabbit is a flemish giant doe and i keep her outside in my old chicken coop. Its huge. She loves it. During the day i let her outside with my chickens in there yard. In the afternoons ill let all the chickens and her out into my yard and they all free range together. She never liked being in a small enclosure. Then in the evening with some help she just hops over to her giant hutch and i open the door and she just hops back in. I strongly recomend allowing lots of outdoor time for your rabbit. Its not a natural thing for a rabbit to be locked in an enclosure. They need space to explore
rabbitlover, this thread is 6 years old and we ask that members do not respond to old threads – it confuses people.
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