Karen from Ohio posted a question online the other day. She has a rabbit who, thankfully, is housed inside, but wondered if it was OK for her rabbit to have some outdoor visits. Karen wondered if she should use a harness and just walk her bunny around, or if she should allow her bunny to play in her fenced in yard.
I’ve known a few people who have tried to “walk” their rabbit on a leash with a harness. While this may work for some rabbits, I personally don’t recommend it. A friend of mine had her rabbit on a leash in their front yard. Their neighbor’s dog saw the rabbit and came charging over. Although the dog wasn’t trying to eat the rabbit, the poor bunny was scared so badly by the dog’s quick movements that the rabbit tried to run away in fear and broke his back. He didn’t die immediately but had to be euthanized the following day. My friend was heartbroken. The death of her rabbit was completely preventable.
It is very dangerous, lonely, boring, and stressful for a rabbit to be housed outside even in the sturdiest of hutches—especially at night is when many predators are hunting. If you just want to take your bunny outside for some fun in the grass in your fenced in yard, here are some things to consider.
Considerations and Tips
• Make sure it isn’t too hot and humid; temperatures over 75 can be dangerous for a rabbit who can’t take their fur coat off
• Never let your rabbit roam freely in your yard, even if it is fenced in; hawks can easily swoop in and grab a rabbit (even larger ones) in their talons. Dogs and cats running lose in the neighborhood can also attack and kill a rabbit very quickly.
• Just because your rabbit is a vegetarian doesn’t mean he knows what plants are poisonous. Most colorful flowers are harmful to a rabbit if eaten, and some are toxic enough to cause death. If your bunny is running in an area in your yard, be sure it is free from plants toxic to rabbits.
• Make sure your yard has not been fertilized or sprayed with any pesticides. These are toxic for a rabbit.
• If you are setting up an enclosed run area for your rabbit, make sure it has a top to keep out hawks and other predators and a bottom to keep the bunny from digging out. Don’t forget to put a hiding box so the bunny will have someplace to feel safe, and make sure there is plenty of shade.
• Be sure to examine your bunny after every outside excursion! Look for fly eggs which will hatch into maggots within hours; check for fleas and any signs of fur mites; and make sure to watch for cuterebra (bot flies) larvae which can be deadly.