The Debate: Should Rabbits Live Inside Or Outside

Having an indoor pet rabbit is becoming more and more popular and I wanted to touch on it so you can make an educated decision. This post is not meant to detract you from having an indoor rabbit. But having an indoor rabbit is definitely not for me for several reasons. Which I will go over.

Also, keep in mind that when I say “indoor pet rabbit” I mean I won’t let mine live inside like my dogs. Sure I bring them in to play with them or when I need to do something health-wise with them.

I don’t let them have free rain around my home like a dog typically does.

Plus with me being tall I really hate having to watch my feet for small animals. Dogs learn to get out of the way but I doubt a rabbit would and they are quiet so I would probably never know they are there.

I just want you to be aware of what rabbits do naturally so you can decide if having an indoor rabbit is right for you.

Full disclosure I do not have rabbits in the house. For all of these reasons, I’m about to tell you.

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Drawbacks of keeping rabbits indoors

Keeping rabbits indoors can come with a lot of challenges and drawbacks that you need to be aware of. Rabbits have destructive habits that the media and people on TikTok seem to want to ignore. Such as chewing on electrical cords, furniture, and baseboards, which can pose a danger to both the rabbit and your home.

If you have other pets, there is a potential danger of them not getting along with the rabbit, leading to possible injuries mainly to the rabbit.

1. Rabbits Chew!

This is one thing you’re not going to stop your domestic rabbits from doing. Their teeth grow continually and they have to keep them shaved down so they don’t get out of alignment or grow inward or even start to curl.

Rabbits will chew on anything they can get their mouths on whether it is your table leg or you are a favorite decorative basket. It’s not something you can train them out of.

If you have rabbits inside its not a matter of if but when they chew on materials like stained wood and fabric, which can be deadly if ingested.

Indoor pet rabbits will also chew up your important papers or anything they can reach. They are ridiculously suborn and if they want to get at something they will.

2. Male Rabbits Spray

Whether they are flirting with a female or showing off for other humans they will spray. It’s not like a cat where they back up to something lift their tail and mark their territory. If they’re feeling feisty they will just swing their behind with a trail of urine following it. I have seen this many times at a rabbit show where some unlucky person was walking by at the wrong time.

The back walls of my hutches are speckled with evidence of a male being in that cage. You can have them fixed which should tame that. But if you wait too long and he has already started that habit it could be impossible to break.

3. Rabbit Urine Is Strong

It is high in ammonia and is hard to clean up after if it gets on other things in the house you have to catch it while it’s still wet and before it dries. 

Rabbits naturally turd as they walk around. It’s one way they leave evidence that another rabbit is in the area. And I’m sorry but I have a hard time believing that even if a rabbit is potty trained they still wouldn’t do that.

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If you decide you are ready to take on a house rabbit. Check out this post about the best rabbit breeds and their personalities to help you find the best pet.

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Advantages of keeping rabbits indoors

One of the most significant advantages is the safety from predators that indoor housing provides. This reduces the risk of harm to the rabbits and gives you as the owner peace of mind.

Keeping rabbits indoors does allow for closer monitoring of their health, making it easier to detect any potential issues early on.

Rabbits can be great pets for people who have small homes or where a dog is not an option.

Now I have a lot to say about this whole argument of rabbits being social animals. While yes they can make excellent house companions there are some KEY things you need to understand. 

Rabbits ARE NOT PACK ANIMALS. It drives me bonkers seeing these TV commercials where rabbits live together like dogs. Think about wild rabbits. You don’t see large groups together and even then each wild rabbit has its own space to go back to.

You will have a much better pet if they get their attention from you NOT another rabbit. Even then domestic rabbits still have times when they want to be left alone. 

Advantages of keeping rabbits outdoors

Keeping rabbits outdoors has far more benefits in my opinion. 

The fresh air and ample space also promote the health of rabbits’ respiratory system, good air flow is important for preventing respiratory issues.

Their fur coats are much better.

Outdoor living also means a more spacious environment for rabbits, giving them the freedom to move around and exercise. 

For some people, keeping rabbits outdoors may be a necessity due to allergies, space constraints, or pet policies in their homes.

Living in outdoor hutches can help prevent rabbits from destroying furniture and belongings inside the house.

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Disadvantages of keeping rabbits outdoors

Keeping rabbits outdoors can expose them to a variety of risks and challenges. Predators such as foxes, birds of prey, and stray dogs can pose a threat to their safety.

Harsh weather conditions can also be a challenge. Extreme heat, cold, and rain, are all things you need to keep an eye on when setting up your rabbitry and be mindful of throughout the seasons.

In the hot weather, rabbits will need help staying cool with things like fans and frozen water bottles. During the winter rabbits are much more tolerant of the cold. But they do need to be monitored and if the wind chill gets bad enough they may need to be moved into a garage or barn.

There is also the task of remembering you have to go outside to feed your rabbit daily.

You will have to regularly check on the rabbits to ensure they have access to fresh water and food and to monitor their health and behavior.

Which is Better? Keeping Rabbits indoors or outdoors?

There are benefits and drawbacks to both options, and it’s important to weigh the factors to ensure the optimal living environment based on the situation you are living in. 

When people get French Lops from me there are people with all kinds of living situations and some have to keep their rabbits inside because they live in inner-city Chicago. The wind is super cold there and the rabbit is likely to get stolen if it is left outside. 

My personal opinion is that keeping rabbits outside is better for their overall health. Not just the annoyance of them getting into almost anything in your home.

There are going to be disadvantages to both keeping rabbits in an indoor space and outdoors as well. You have to make a list of both the pros and cons of each situation and make it work for you.

How To Safely Move Your Indoor Rabbit Outside

So you have decided to move your rabbit outside. How can you do that?

The best time of year to make this transition is early spring when the weather is starting to warm up but not too hot. This will help your rabbit adjust to the outdoor environment without the extreme temperatures of winter or the heat of summer.

Before moving your rabbit outside, make sure to keep your rabbit’s hutch protected from extreme weather. 

This can include a hutch or sheltered area where they can hide out in to regulate their body temperature if they feel overheated, chilly, or feel unsafe. This will also allow your rabbit time to regulate their natural coat to change with the seasons.

Rabbits are prey animals so make sure to keep them protected from predators. Up off the ground several feet is key, and also have strong fencing around the area your rabbit is housed in (like your backyard) if possible. 

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DO NOT Move Your Outdoor Rabbit Into Your House In The Winter

While it may seem like a good idea to bring outdoor rabbits inside during the winter to keep them warm, there are potential drawbacks to consider.

Outdoor rabbits are acclimated to the cold and sudden changes in temperature can be stressful for them. Additionally, indoor temperatures may be too warm for them, leading to potential health issues. This sudden change in environment can also impact their behavior.

If you think about the difference in the outdoor temperatures vs your house there is a huge difference. You likely keep your home in the upper 60s during the winter. It would have to be spring or even summer before those temperatures are the same outside. Sending a rabbit back outside in the 30s once low temps pass is going to stress them out and they will not be as used to the cold since they spent even a day or two in the house. Make sense?

Rabbits can tolerate really cold temperatures a lot better than you think. Their ideal temperature is 50 degrees Fahrenheit. But rabbits do just fine in a barn or garage as low as the dinge digits if they are out of drafts.

If you do decide to bring your outdoor rabbits inside during the winter, it’s important to make the transition gradual. This means slowly introducing them to warmer indoor temperatures over a period of time. 

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How To Keep Outdoor Rabbits Warm In The Winter

During the winter months, it’s important to ensure that outdoor rabbits have a space to stay warm. To keep them warm, provide a sheltered area within their hutch where they can escape from the cold wind and snow. Adding extra bedding such as hay or straw will also help to insulate their living space and keep them warm in the really cold snaps below 20 degrees. 

Just be careful in doing this because they will soon turn that nice bed of straw into a toilet and that can have some EXTREME health repercussions causing poo and urine to be caked on their backside.

In addition to a sheltered area and extra bedding, it’s important to make sure their hutch is covered with a weather-proof material to protect them from the elements. This will help to prevent drafts and keep the interior of their living space dry and warm.

Only bring rabbits into a barn or sheltered area (if they don’t live there already) if the temperatures are in the teens or single digits for more than 48 hours.

My Rabbitry Must Haves

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I used to have a sun room in our old house and I would move the rabbits in travel carriers into that room which brought the temperatures up by about 20 degrees from what the outside was. Which was great. Now my best option is moving the rabbit’s cages into horse stalls in the barn. And it did just fine during the cold snap we had.

During the colder months, it’s crucial to check their water bowls and bottles daily to make sure that the water doesn’t freeze. Replace frozen water with fresh, unfrozen water to ensure that your rabbits stay hydrated.

Like I said it’s up to you and the living situation you have access to. BUT personally, I think rabbits are healthier outside. 

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