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I don’t think rabbits should be left unsupervised outside, but as long as you properly bunny proof the garden, there’s no reason why they can’t run around outside.
It’s not necessary though. Your rabbit isn’t sat inside thinking ‘man, I wish I wish I could go outside’. As long as they have enough room inside, they’ll be happy enough.
Taking rabbits outside can increase their exposure to vitamin D
This is a benefit to taking rabbits outside, BUT there’s no reason why your rabbits shouldn’t be getting adequate vitamin D inside, unless they’re in a windowless room.
I used to live in an apartment with no outside space and my rabbit lived into double digits with no vitamin D issues. One of them had arthritis, but that was an age and breed thing – my 11 year old dutch, though slower, had no mobility issues (ear gunk was his thing).
The whole ‘rabbits need to be outside for vitamin D’ argument comes round every now and again and…I’m not convinced. If it was that big of an issue, vets would be flogging us supplements, and they’re not.
Obviously, if I advised to supplement my rabbits with vitamin D I would, but I’d supplement them rather than put them in harm’s way. Just like I supplement myself with B12 rather than eat animal products.
Rabbits love to forage outside
Some rabbits love nothing more than exploring outside and foraging for dandelions and the like.
Just…not my rabbits.
I was so excited to move to a house with a garden so i could take my rabbits outside AND LET ME TELL YOU WHAT A LET DOWN IT WAS.
After the initial ‘gosh, I can eat the floor’ they were very unimpressed.
They don’t even run around,preferring to stay close to me. It makes sense – the sky must seem very far away when you’re used to having a ceiling above you.
Rabbits need to be supervised when they’re outside
I mean, if you had a secure run, I suppose you could leave them, but I personally would be too worried someone would steal them.
Stealing rabbits isn’t as widely spread as stealing dogs, because once upon a time, people wouldn’t have paid a reward for their safe return. But nowadays, people are as likely to put up a reward for a rabbit as they would any other pet, so rabbits might be fair game.
I couldn’t find any stats on rabbit theft (other than that woman that is forever claiming her rabbit is dead, only to find out that it’s been dead for years and she’s a scammer) but I won’t be risking mine.
There’s also the issue of loose dogs and birds of prey and cats. I may seem overprotective, but they’re so much safer chilling in my house.
Rabbits need to be protected from the sun/heat
Rabbits are far, far, better adapted to living in cold temperatures than warm ones. Rabbits can overheat super quickly because they don’t pant or sweat or do any of the traditional things other animals do to cool down.
If you’re going to take your rabbit outside in the hot part of the day, ensure that they have shade of some kind, preferably a little shelter for them.
Rabbits wouldn’t prefer to be outside
People say ‘but it’s more natural for them!’
Well, yeah, but it’s also more natural for me too, but I’d rather be inside watching TV.
Appeal to nature isn’t a good argument. My rabbits live inside, and are more used to being inside.
Here in the UK, rabbits live wild, pretty successfully. That does NOT mean that my rabbits would survive outside. They have zero street smarts. They’d be predated on or hit by a car before they’d even have a chance to starve to deal.
Just because nature is natural, doesn’t mean it’s better.