Do Rabbits Have Homing Instinct?

Do Rabbits Have Homing Instinct
Do Rabbits Have Homing Instinct

A lot of rabbit owners may be interested in the idea of “free range” rabbits, similar to the practice of having free range chickens. They may think that their bunnies will be happier if they are allowed to run free and come home during nights to sleep. But they are unsure that their rabbits will know where their home is, or that they will wander off and get lost.

Do rabbits have homing instincts? In short, no, a rabbit usually will not memorize where its’ home is. If you turn your rabbit loose outside, there is a very good chance it could wander off and get permanently lost. It will not return back to you night after night like a chicken will.

Today, we are going to discuss the idea of free range rabbits, if rabbits will come home after running away, and similar questions.


Do Rabbits Have A Homing Instinct?

The most important thing you should remember is that rabbits generally do not have a homing instinct. While they can become used to their new homes and even bond with their owners over time, they generally will not return home if you allow them to run “free range” outdoors. Even if you have a fence in your yard, a rabbit may dig under it to escape. Outdoor enclosures must be properly built to accommodate and protect bunnies. 

In order to keep your pet rabbit safe and healthy, you should not allow it to run freely. Not only can your rabbit run away, but a large number of predators could attack and seriously harm your pet. They could also get hit by a car if they were to run out in the road. Remember, it is not at all cruel to protect your rabbit by keeping it contained. Your domesticated pet is not capable of defending itself in the wild, and it depends on you to keep it safe.

Will A Rabbit Return Home At Night?

Generally, you should not count on your rabbit returning home every night if you allow them to run loose. This is because rabbits do not have a “homing” instinct like cats or dogs would. Instead, your rabbit will probably run off and find whatever place it prefers to be on its’ own. However, it may be harmed by a predator or run in front of a car in the meanwhile. It would be best for you to keep your rabbit contained overnight, in order to keep it safe.

What Kind Of Predators Might Hurt My Rabbit?

Rabbits are known as prey animals. Not only are their instincts to run away and hide from larger mammals for safety, but some larger animals may have instincts to harm them. Some human beings may also hurt your rabbit, too. For this question, we will only be discussing possible animal predators that could harm your bunny.

If you have coyotes, foxes, stray dogs, or cats in your area, these larger animals may cause significant harm to your rabbit. If these animals are present in your neighborhood, you must consider keeping your rabbit indoors. But if you cannot keep your bunny inside, you need to make sure you have an outdoor pen that is equipped to keep predators away from your pet.

Will My Rabbit Come Back After Running Away?

Since many cats and dogs return home after running away, rabbit owners wonder if their pets will do the same. Unfortunately, your rabbit may not return back to you after running away. Since they generally do not have a homing instinct, they will not know where they are supposed to return to. This is why you should concentrate on making sure your bunny does not run away or get lost in the first place.

If your rabbit does happen to run away, you should alert the local shelters, and also post fliers around town. Your fliers should contain a recent picture of your rabbit so that anyone who may have seen it should be able to clearly identify it. Include your phone number, or other contact information, so that you may have a better chance of getting your pet back.

How Long Will It Take For A Rabbit To Get Used To Its’ Home?

When you adopt a rabbit, it may take a long while for it to get used to its’ new owner and its’ new housing situation. Depending on the rabbit, it may take several days to a few weeks for it to fully get used to its’ new home. Give your bunny time and space in the meantime.

After you bring home a new pet bunny, don’t force it to interact with you. Allow your rabbit to have space to inspect its’ new environment. Let your rabbit approach you to sniff you. Don’t scare your new pet, or it may associate you with negative memories.


Today, we have discussed the idea of free range rabbits, and whether or not your pet rabbit may have a homing instinct. We also discussed why you should keep them safely contained in order to keep them protected and safe.

Related Questions

Does my pet rabbit like me? Rabbits are prey animals, so it may take them longer to get used to you than other pets like cats or dogs. With the right socialization work, they can bond with their owners, and be a loving pet to you for the rest of their lives. This is why you should treat your rabbit gently, and with respect as to not scare it.

Should I keep my rabbit indoors or outdoors? Indoor rabbits are generally safer from predators, bad weather conditions, and possible diseases. They are also less likely to be hit by a car if they are kept inside. Consider keeping your rabbit indoors to extend its’ life.

How independent are rabbits? Since rabbits have their own personalities, some may be more independent than others. However, a pet rabbit will need daily care in order to keep them healthy for the entire length of their lives. Wild rabbits however, do better with less human interference.