Keeping domesticated rabbits in an outdoor area requires many considerations for their safety, their living habitats and for their happy and healthy life. Rabbits can adapt from one season to the next in any region and type of weather. Rabbits have thick fur coats and clumps of fur on their feet.
There are obviously a few safety warnings that should be given when you want to keep your domesticated rabbit outdoors. With due diligence, your rabbit will be safe and secure living outdoors.
Many of the risks can be nullified if consideration is given in regard to the dangers of a rabbit living outdoors. To begin, the enclosure where your rabbit will be living, the majority of the time. A proper enclosure will prevent the following:
- Means of Escape
- Poisonous Vegetation
Rabbits are active and need a lot of space to move around. The enclosure should be tall enough where a rabbit can stand, where they can hop and move around as they play. The exercise space should be at least three times the size of the hutch.
Letting a rabbit free-range roam is not a safe idea. A rabbit will tend to nibble on green vegetation. There is a lot of vegetation in your yard that is not safe for a rabbit. The enclosure is meant to protect a rabbit’s digestive system, by preventing them from eating plants that could be toxic to them.
Being safe from predators is one of the most basic needs your rabbit has. A rabbit can actually die of fright. As you make an enclosure and exercise area, be sure to have some sort of cover over the enclosure. A mesh screen works well for this purpose.
Other safety concerns from predators include an area with a pile of straw where the rabbit is able to run and hide for safety. These piles should be scattered throughout the exercise yard. Predators do not mean just the flying type, cats and even dogs can be considered predators for rabbits. The area should be guaranteed to have no areas where either of these two animals could gain entrance into the enclosure.
Depending on the season, the cover should be one that provides some shade, and some protection against rain and snow also. This does not mean the entire area should have a solid protective cover, just a good portion of the area where the rabbit can feel safe and stay protected from the forces of nature.
One thought is to have the enclosure and exercise area slightly raised above ground level. This way in heavy rain or snow, the area is not saturated with rain and snow. This also provides areas that are somewhat dry compared to other areas that may have puddles.
Best Outdoor Breeds
There are many different species of rabbits that are available to be domesticated rabbits. Some of these breeds will fare better being outdoors than others do. The reasons could vary from a heartier breed, a thicker fur to the natural instinct of self-preservation outdoors.
New Zealand White Rabbit
The New Zealand White Rabbit is considered to be tolerant of both the heat and the cold. These rabbits have short fur but are easy to groom as needed. They are also docile and easy to handle.
The New Zealand White Rabbit is highly adaptable, and they do tend to grow large on a rabbit scale. Their enclosure and hutch should be built large enough to reflect this.
Checkered Giant Rabbit
The Giant Checkered Rabbit also requires an area that is large enough for the breed to move around comfortably. Their personality and gentle nature make the effort worth it, however.
This breed is one of the most popular, and for good reason. Their markings alone make them so adorable you can’t help but love them.
As long as this breed has protection from the elements of nature, they will be happy to live anywhere. Give them room, give them fun and give them a friend and that is all they ask for.
The Dutch are one of the top popular breeds due to their gentle nature. This breed will adapt well to outdoor living as long as they have all that they need. That includes protection from the elements, room to roam and a high enough roof where they can jump.
They also need safety areas just in case they become frightened. The safety areas are burrows with grass or piles of straw that they can hide in.
The Dutch are actually considered a small breed rabbit. Therefore they definitely need protection from the cold, the rain and the snow. Their fur will keep them warm to a certain extent.
French Lop Rabbit
The French Lop Rabbit is one of the most adorable bunnies out there. Their floppy ears just give them the look of wanting to be held. The ears are not just for show. Those lop-eared rabbits have the ability to regulate their body temperature with those ears.
The French Lop is one of the giant breeds of rabbits, so be sure that their enclosure is built for their potential size.
Belgian Hare Rabbit
The Belgian Hare is a cross of domesticated rabbit and wild hare. They have a long and lean muscular body. They are generally one solid colour, a shade of tan-orange. Their ability to adapt to outdoor living is due to their breeding back in the 18th Century. A combination of wild and domesticated makes them able to handle either type of confinement. They need plenty of room in their space.
California Rabbits are one of the most popular breeds used for show rabbits. They make perfect companions also. They can easily adapt to outdoor living as long as they have a roomy enclosure, safety protocols in place and love and attention.
The California Rabbit is considered to be a large rabbit and likes to have the space to move and run.
Flemish Giant Rabbit
The ‘Gentle Giant’ of all rabbits, the Flemish is likely the most recognizable rabbit there is. These rabbits are calm and affectionate and they have a mild temperament as well. These rabbits can grow to be 20 pounds, so their outdoor enclosure needs to be large enough to give them the room that they require. Their living area also needs to be large enough for them to move and have separate areas for sleeping, bathroom and also eating.
An outdoor run that is covered for protection from predators will make these guys even happier than they already seem to be. They like to have a safe enclosure, but also love to have room to play.
Whether it is the size, the colour markings on the mainly white fur or the gentle nature of the Rhinelander Rabbit, they love to be loved. This breed is known to be friendly, calm and patient.
They are considered to be of a large-scale rabbit size, and their enclosure needs to replicate that. They need plenty of room, and they also need a safe place to be able to run outdoors, if they are kept inside the majority of the time. A rabbit run with a mesh screen overhead, safe zones set up, such as piles of straw to hide in or small burrows that they can bury themselves in.
The setup needs to protect them from predators mostly, however, a place out of the weather elements is best also.
Silver Fox Rabbit
The Silver Fox Rabbit is a rare breed, yet it is very stunning to look at. The name comes from the fact that the fur resembles the coat of an Arctic Silver Fox. As an even-tempered, docile and gentle breed, they are one of the most popular, when they can be found. They are used for show most often, and also for companionship.
For this breed to live outdoors, the area needs to have an enclosure that makes them feel safe, room to run and play, and also a covering to protect them from predatory animals. Their hutch should be large enough to fit your Silver Fox Rabbit comfortably. This breed is considered to be one of the larger rabbits and they need the room to reflect this.
In order to care for your rabbit, the most ideal would be to share a living area with its owner. This is not always possible, however. The breeds listed above are the ones that fare the best in outdoor situations. This is not to say that there are no other breeds that can live outdoors also, these are just the top choices made in our research.
Raising a rabbit outdoors is not much different than those raised inside, the basic difference is to be sure that they have an enclosure large enough that is relevant for their size, they need room to run. For this, I always suggest something similar to a dog run. A rabbit run does not need to be as tall, but it does need some safety protocols that a run for dogs would likely not have.
A mesh covering to protect from predators, the enclosure should be raised off the ground so burrowing predators cannot get in. The rabbit still needs to be fed, spoken to, and played with. Rabbits are sociable creatures and live in groups in the wild, this shows that they like to have company.