Can you let house rabbits out in the garden?
As the days get longer and the nights get lighter, it’s tempting to let your house rabbit into your garden to enjoy some sunshine and outdoor fun.
But is this change of scenery a good idea for your pet?
Petplan takes a looks at whether you should let your house rabbit into your garden during the warmer months...
Can temperature changes affect your rabbit?
Rabbits do not do well with extreme changes in temperature.
In the wild, their burrows remain at a constant temperature throughout the year.
They regulate their body temperature by growing a thinner or thicker coat, making it difficult to move frequently between indoors and outdoors.
Unlike humans, rabbits cannot sweat and they cool down by expanding the blood vessels in their ears.
One way of identifying whether your rabbit is too hot or too cold is by feeling the temperature of their ears. Ideally, they should feel warm to touch rather than hot or cold
During warmer seasons, it’s important that you help your bunny beat the heat and keep them cool and healthy as the temperature rises.
The ideal outdoor temperature for rabbits is between 12° to 21°C but anything above that can lead to them feeling uncomfortable and, in temperatures above 30°C, they risk getting heat stroke.
How to make your garden safe for your rabbit
You’re not the only one who enjoys the sunshine. When the frosts are over, you can let your bunny outside to play in the sun and exercise.
However, there are a few things to consider when taking your bunny outside:
- Ensure that there are no pesticides or weed-killers in the garden, both of which are extremely harmful to rabbits
- Keep your bunny clear from dogs, birds, foxes and other creatures that could potentially harm or frighten them
- Your bunny can suffer from heat stress, look out for signs of heat stroke and help keep your bunny cool
- Avoid plants that may be poisonous to your rabbit such as holly, ivy, oak leaves and plants that grow from bulbs
- Check your bunny for ticks and other bugs after being outside
It’s also important that your bunny has a fresh supply of water at all times, especially during summer months when they need to stay hydrated and cool down.
Creating an outdoor rabbit run
If you want to leave your bunny outside for longer periods of time, it’s highly recommended that you invest in a rabbit run.
This involves creating an outdoor environment that has four walls with a top and bottom.
The bottom will keep your bunny from digging his/her way out, and the top will provide shade and keep airborne predators out.
You can buy a ready-made one from most good pet shops although you can also make your own.
The sides can be made of thick welded wire that is not wide enough for your bunny to get out or for predators to get in.
Alternatively, you can use custom wire storage cubes and zip ties. This is an inexpensive way to construct a rabbit run, and you can easily customise the area and shape of the run.
Outdoor accommodation makes it easier for your bunny to get regular exercise, without you having to constantly watch over them.
Of course, ensure you make the run as safe as possible for your rabbit and watch out for any sharp edges and avoid using any unsuitable materials.
The outdoors can provide a wonderful, enjoyable experience for your bunny – as long as you take the proper precautions to keep your rabbit safe.
Do you have a house rabbit? Do you have any advice for taking your bunny outdoors? Let us know in the comments below…