How To Care For A Rabbit Outdoors (18 Helpful Tips)

How To Care For A Rabbit Outdoors
How To Care For A Rabbit Outdoors

Caring for a pet rabbit requires some planning especially if your pet rabbit is going to live outdoors. In fact, many people ask me whether a rabbit can live outside. I do suggest you make some special arrangements for your outside rabbit.

So, how do you care for a rabbit outdoors?  Some rabbit breeds live outside better than others, so choose wisely. Outdoors rabbits need a good housing situation. A hutch is a best for an outdoors rabbit, so be sure it’s off the ground and in a sheltered part of the yard. The rabbit hutch must have lots of straw, food and water for your outdoor rabbit. Rabbits are social animals, so don’t let your rabbit get lonely. Provide play and exercise for it everyday.Of course, in the winter and summer you’ll need to provide special care for your outdoor rabbit.

Best Rabbit Breeds To Live Outdoors

Some breeds of rabbits live outdoors better than others. This might be because of the breed’s personality, kind of fur or overall healthiness of the breed. Here is a list of the best rabbit breeds to live outdoors.

  • European Rabbits
  • White Vienna Rabbit
  • Meissner Rabbit
  • German Angora Rabbit
  • New Zealand Red Rabbit
  • Columbia Basin Pygmy Rabbit
  • Flemish Giant Rabbit
  • Netherland Dwarf
  • Beveren
  • Plush Lop
  • Blanc De Hotot

What Age Can Rabbits Live Outdoors?

Rabbits adapt well to outdoor living. Like other animals with fur, rabbits’ fur coats thicken in the cold winter and they’ll lose the extra fur in the warmer summer months. Rabbits are ready to live outside after twelve weeks. Be sure your rabbit is healthy, hopping around curiously. Some breeders sell rabbits right after their weaned, but that might be too young for a rabbit to live outside.

Give Your Outdoor Rabbit A Big Enough Hutch

Well made, well-ventilated hutches are the best house for an outdoor rabbit. You can buy rabbit hutches from rabbit breeders or online sites. Some rabbit owners custom build their rabbit’s hutch. Your rabbit’s hutch should be safe, with easy access for you to put food and water into the cage. Choose a big enough hutch for your rabbit. The bigger the better for a full sized rabbit. Here are some general rules of thumb for your rabbit’s hutch should be:

  • Big enough for your rabbit to lie down and stretch out
  • High enough for your rabbit to stand up and stretch without its ears touching the top of ceiling of the hutch
  • Long enough that your rabbit can move around to eat and drink.
  • Your rabbit should be able to hop three hops from one end of the hutch to the other end of the hutch.

Also, when you’re picking a hutch for your rabbit, consider that it will need to be big enough for a litter box, a food bowl and a water bowl. If the hutch is too small, your rabbit will be sad and maybe even depressed.

Give Your Outdoor Rabbit A Safe Hutch

Hutches are usually made of wood and strong wire.The hutch should have a slanted roof so that rain can run off. This will prevent moisture from building up inside the hutch. The back of the hutch should be solid, not open for the best protection. The hutch should also have a front door that is hinged for easy opening and closing. This will also allow you to clean the cage easily. Choose strong latches on the door to keep out predators. Hutch sides must have strong wire not chicken wire windows big enough for your rabbit to get lots of air, but small enough to keep out predators. Some hutches have solid wood floors, but this prevents drainage of waste.This isn’t the best design so choose a floor that allows drainage. Be sure the hutch sets evenly up off the ground and won’t tip over if your rabbit jumps around. Hutches should be elevated so that predators can’t reach your rabbit.

Put Rabbit’s Hutch In A Sheltered Area

Your rabbit’s hutch should be protected from all kinds of weather. Be sure it won’t get wind or direct sunlight and that’s it’s not sitting in a damp place. Place your rabbit’s hutch under a shade tree or near the house under a roof over a patio area. You can also put your rabbits hutch inside a shed or a carport for partial shelter especially when it’s extra cold or hot.

Put A Litter Box Inside Your Outdoor Rabbit Hutch

Believe it or not, your rabbit can be trained to use a litter box. Rabbits typically use the same spot in a cage or hutch to go to the bathroom. When you figure out which corner your rabbit always uses, put a litter box in that corner. Line the litter box with paper or wood shavings such as cedar or pine.  The scent of the cedar will actually draw your rabbit to the area so it will want to use the bathroom. Change the litter box daily so your rabbit’s hutch stays clean and sweet smelling.

Best Bedding For Inside Your Outdoor Rabbit Hutch

Straw is great bedding for your outdoor rabbit. People often confuse straw and hay. Straw is larger than hay. It has hollow stalks and a yellowish color. Hay is made from green grass so it looks green in color. Straw is cheap. It will keep your rabbits outdoor hutch clean and sweet smelling.

Special Care For Outdoor Rabbits Food and Water

Hay is an important staple for your rabbit’s diet. Hay is high in fiber which is great for their digestion and good gut health. Hay is simply cut grass and legumes. Rabbits love alfalfa hay, but they get sick if they eat too much of it. Timothy hay is a good hay to mix with alfalfa hay for your rabbit’s digestion. Some rabbit breeders put a hay rack over their rabbits litter box because rabbits use the bathroom while eating their hay. If your rabbit is new to its hutch, put the litter box in first. After they are accustomed to using the litter box, then you can add the hay rack. This way the rabbit won’t get confused. Food bowls should be made from ceramic or stainless steel. This is because rabbits love to chew. They won’t be able to destroy these sturdy bowls. Feed your rabbit leafy greens like lettuce, kale or collard greens every day. They also like carrots tops and turnip greens.

Be sure to give your rabbit fresh, clean water every day. Rabbits are thirsty all the time. Water bowls don’t always work for outdoor rabbits since they get dirty easily and sometimes rabbits like to tip them over. Water bottles work best. Simply hang the water bottle on the side of the hutch so your rabbit can drink easily and often. Rabbit pellets are okay to give to your rabbit as long as you don’t give it too many. Some rabbit breeders say that hay and water alone would be sufficient for a rabbit.

Dangers For Your Outdoor Rabbit

Wild Animals- Foxes, rats, opossums and raccoons are a constant threat to an outdoor rabbit. Foxes are especially aggressive, they’ve been known to break into hutches by clawing at the door latches. Always use the strongest latch on your cage. It also helps if your backyard is fenced in, this keeps wild animals at bay.

Birds-Large birds of prey are a danger to outdoor rabbits. If your rabbit is on the small side, a large bird would be able to swoop down and grab it. If your rabbit runs around your backyard, be sure you’re outside with it or that you provide your rabbit with an enclosed area to run.

Dog, cats-Even house pets can be a danger to your outdoor rabbit. Never leave your rabbit alone with a house pet. Dogs and cats sometimes kill rabbits. Your rabbit would be helpless in this situation.

Plants-Plants can be hazardous to your outdoor rabbit. Some weeds and flowers are poisonous to rabbits. Here is a partial list of deadly plants for rabbits.

  • All plants that grow from bulbs
  • Amaryllis
  • Arum lily (cuckoo point)
  • Bindweed
  • Bracken
  • Bryony
  • Buttercup
  • Deadly nightshade
  • Elder
  • Foxglove
  • Hemlock
  • Lily of the valley
  • Many evergreens
  • Oak leaves
  • Poppies
  • Yew
  • Nightshade
  • Rhubarb leaves

Chemicals– Lawn fertilizers, weed killers or pesticides are extremely dangerous for your outdoor rabbit. If you have an outdoor rabbit, it’s best not to use any of these chemicals around your house or on your lawn.

Don’t Let Outdoors Rabbit Get Lonely

Rabbits are social animals. If you have an outdoor rabbit, you will need to provide it lots of attention so your rabbit won’t get lonely. Get your family members in on cuddling and playing with your rabbit every day to provide the social interactions rabbits crave.

Provide Exercise For Outdoors Rabbit

Rabbits also need lots of exercise. Rabbits owners often build a rabbit run for their outdoor rabbits to run around. This can be made with strong wire and a gate so the owners can join their rabbits in the run. It might be necessary to add a roof if you think predators could get into the run, but typically you should release your rabbit in the run when you’re outside. Give your rabbit toys to play with inside the run.

Here are some fun toys rabbits love

  1. Cardboard paper towel rolls
  2. Hard plastic baby toys
  3. Cat toys
  4. Bird toys
  5. Plastic slinkies
  6. Old towels to bunch up
  7. Rubber balls
  8. Brown paper bags

Can Rabbits Live Outdoors All Year Round?

Your rabbit can in fact live outdoor all year long as long as you take some special precautions for the hot and cold seasons. Rabbits adapt to any situation as long as they have enough food and water and good bedding.

Can Rabbits Stay Outside All Winter?

Yes, rabbits can stay outside all winter as long as the temperatures do not fall below a certain level. You should also take extra precautions to ensure your rabbit is warm during the winter. Rabbits can die easily from too hot or too cold weather. If you live in a northern climate, it’s extremely important that you prepare your rabbit’s dwelling for the cold.

Special Care For Outdoors Rabbit In The Winter

Rabbits need special provisions to live outdoors all winter. Cover your rabbits hutch with an old blanket and then drape a large piece of plastic over the blanket. Leave an open flap for ventilation especially during the day. At night cover the hutch again and leave a  small area of ventilation. Your bunny will stay warm all night. You can also buy hutch covers to keep your rabbit warm all winter. Some rabbit owners choose to move their rabbits hutch into a warm shed or garage all winter to keep their pet warm. If you choose to do this, be sure the shed or garage is safe,especially that there are no chemical fumes that could harm your rabbit.

Also, give your rabbit extra hay in the winter. He will need to eat to generate warmth in his body. Some rabbit owners swear by extra carrots in the winter. Also be sure your rabbit has water that isn’t frozen. There are special water bottles for rabbits that won’t freeze in the winter.

How Cold Can Rabbits Tolerate?

Rabbits can get frostbite if left outside in severely cold weather. You should move your rabbit’s hutch to a garage for extra warmth to prevent frostbite. Rabbits can tolerate temperatures as low as 32 degrees Fahrenheit as long as they have good shelter, extra food and fresh water.

Can Rabbits Stay Outside All Summer?

Yes, your rabbit can stay outside all summer as long as you provide it with good ventilation and plenty of fresh, cold water. Rabbits can’t tolerate extreme heat and should be kept out of direct sunlight in the summer months.

Special Care For Outdoors Rabbit In The Summer

Rabbits are prone to heatstroke because they don’t pant like some animals. The only way a rabbit can cool off is through the veins in its ears. Shady areas are the best place to put their hutches in the summer, because this will lower the temperature of their hutch. Also, provide lots of fresh, cold water for your outdoor rabbit. You can also mist your rabbits ears to keep it cool.

How Hot Can Outdoors Rabbits Tolerate?

Rabbits are prone to heat stroke or heat related problems if the summer temperatures go above 85 degrees Fahrenheit. If the summer is especially hot, many rabbit owners move their rabbits hutch inside a cool garage or a cool shady patio area. You an put a frozen milk jug into your rabbits hutch to help cool it off. Some owners put an oscillating fan near the rabbit hutch to cool it off. Never let the fan blow directly on your rabbit.

Conclusion:

Today, we discussed which breeds of rabbits can best live outdoors. We talked about what age your rabbit should be before living outside and we discussed tips on the best kind of hutch for your outdoor rabbit and how big it should be and where it should be located. We found that a litter box helps keep your rabbit’s hutch clean. Rabbits need good bedding such as straw to maintain their fresh clean bed.There are several dangers to your outdoor rabbit. These include wild animals, bird of prey, plants and chemicals. We talked about how rabbits are social animals, they need lots of attention and love to play with toys. We listed some fun toys you can give your outdoor rabbit. Last of all, we found out that rabbits can live outside all year round as long as you make special arrangements for them in the summer and winter.

Questions:

Can I Move My Indoor Rabbit Outdoors?

Yes, you can always move an indoor rabbit outdoors as long as the weather outside is mild. Never move an indoor rabbit outside in the summer or winter. Vice Versa, never move an outdoor rabbit inside during the winter because the sudden temperature change when you put the rabbit back outside will kill it.

Will My Outdoor Rabbit Live Longer?

If your rabbits is well cared for it can live seven to ten years. Many people say that outdoors rabbits don’t live as long as indoor rabbits. This might be due to the fact that outdoor rabbits can potentially have more stress or danger in their life. To help your rabbit live longer, you can feed it a high fiber diet. Also keep your rabbit’s stress level down. Rabbits have been known to have heart attacks from hearing a barking dog or getting frightened.