Rabbits are cool, cuddly creatures that come in all sizes and colors. If you want a mini critter in your backyard, then a rabbit is ideal. Rabbits only need a smaller space than a dog or cat, but they are also quiet and friendly. Although, keeping rabbits in a yard may not jive with everyone, and bringing home these creatures mostly based on whim.
Rabbits can live inside or outside a house. They need a safe and protected environment. They can be kept in a hutch depending on the space a specific rabbit’s needs. While the size of a rabbit varies based on its breeds, the breed and number of bunnies you want as pets are important factors to consider to raise them.
In this article, we’ll discuss how to keep a happy and healthy rabbit in your backyard, and the space needed for it. We’ll also tackle the important factors to consider before getting a rabbit and the great reasons for having them as pets.
Can You Keep Rabbits Outdoors?
You can keep rabbits outdoors, but remember to provide them with adequate shade, water, and food. Offer them well-ventilated resting areas so they won’t overheat, and protect them from winter months and bad weather. An exercise run should also be available, and most importantly, owners should know the rabbit’s need for protection from potential predators.
You must also familiarize yourself with rabbits’ specific needs, such as the type of shelter they need. The required shelter relies on the type and number of rabbits. Rabbit hutches are ideal for smaller types of rabbits while bigger rabbits need custom-built cages.
They need access to cool areas, especially during extreme heat since most rabbits are cold tolerant and struggle in warmth. Plus, there are tools you must consider, like feeders, watering devices, and nesting boxes.
When raising rabbits, you must also verify whether it’s allowed to keep rabbits in your backyard or not. For instance, some cities and urban places have strict regulations on raising animals, which greatly affects the number of rabbits and the type of shelter that can be built for them.
Your backyard is a great place to create a fun area and let your cat explore, play, and connect with their instinctive behaviors. Read our article to learn about the different ways to make your backyard cat-friendly.
Space Needed for a Backyard Rabbit
Rabbit’s homes should be at least four times as big as the bunnies. Specifically, smaller backyard rabbits under 8 lbs. must be enclosed in a 24” x 36” hutch while larger rabbits must be kept in a 30” x 36” cage. A two-story enclosure with a ramp joining the floors is common for rabbits, too.
The rabbit’s pen sizes also vary depending on the animal’s amount of exercise. Have at least 8 sq. ft of cage space, combined with at least 24 sq. ft. of exercise space for 1-2 rabbits, so the rabbits can run and play for at least five hours a day.
Several rabbit cages are not ideal for rabbits’ homes. Some are too small while many others have wires that are not comfy for bunnies.
Ensure that your rabbits are happy and healthy by providing them ample space to grow and move around. Create a space for them that is high enough so your bunnies can stand up without their ears touching the top of the cage.
Rabbits are energetic by nature, and thus, don’t react well in narrow spaces. Yet, it’s not practical to supervise them at all times, so investing in a large cage is enough.
Things to Consider Before Getting Backyard Rabbits
Getting rabbits into your backyard requires preparation and knowledge. Rabbits can be destructive and disgusting as well — for one, they poop a lot and eat their dirt. Besides, they are your long-term companion who can live up to 11 years. Also, your pet entails complex care and nutritional requirements that must be carefully considered.
1. Rabbits poop a lot
When rabbits are outside, they poop anywhere they want. When cleaning with their poop, wear rubber gloves and hold your breath. Rabbit poop is compostable, and thus, can be used as manure fertilizer around the yard.
2. They eat their poop
Rabbits produce two types of poops: the hard, round ones, and the soft ones, which they eat. It’s called cecotropes that are filled with nutrients that the rabbit needs to re-ingest and absorb all the nutrients.
3. Rabbits can be destructive
If you plan to keep them inside your house, make your home rabbit-proof for your safety and your rabbits’. It’s a good idea to give them many toys to keep them entertained. They will likely throw, chew, and eat them, so ensure these toys are bunny-friendly.
4. Triggers asthma and allergies
People who are allergic to cats are more sensitive to rabbits as well. These animals’ smelly pee is enough to make anyone sick.
5. Consider their lifespan
The most important thing to consider before getting a backyard rabbit is its lifespan. Indeed, rabbits can live 9 to 11 years. They could die because of their fright to loud sounds, and screams can lead them to get a heart attack.
6. Rabbits hate to be touched/carried
They want to be as free from humans as possible. They love to lay in the sun, stand, and sniff the air. Dogs also love to chase rabbits when they are outside of their cages, and these bunnies try to tease dogs by sticking their noses out and alluring them.
7. They need special care
Rabbits are considered exotic animals. They need someone with vast knowledge about rabbits. Consider their anesthesia, medication, and surgery, which are delicate for them.
8. Caring rabbit can be expensive
Regular vet visits and necessary care for your pet’s life add up to your usual expenses. Just like dogs and cats, rabbits can develop chronic conditions that require life-long care.
9. Rabbits are litter-trained
The size and style of your litter pan depend on the size of the rabbits. Younger bunnies do well with a high-back litter pan, while old rabbits or those with disabilities need a lower litter pan. It’s an additional consideration if you raise two or more rabbits, especially if you wanted to keep bunnies always clean and comfy.
10. Too much sugar isn’t good for them
Rabbits have sensitive guts. Too much sugar is painful for their stomach. Even natural sugar in fruits and some veggies can be too much for them. For instance, carrots contain lots of sugar and must only be offered in small amounts, as occasional treats.
11. Don’t give rabbits a bath
Bathing rabbits can lead them to shock or hypothermia. You should never fully submerge any part of a rabbit’s body in water. They are like cats: they groom themselves most of the time. But if you notice that your bunnies aren’t grooming, that may be a sign of illness.
12. Rabbit’s diet varies depending on their age
Healthy rabbits’ diets depend on their age. Baby rabbits up to six months old enjoy unlimited timothy and alfalfa hay, and few tablespoons of young rabbit pellets. While those over six months old prefer unlimited timothy hay, don’t longer give alfalfa hay, and start offering leafy greens. Meanwhile, for a five-pound rabbit, provide two cups of fresh leafy greens twice a day. Gradually introduce these greens to avoid diarrhea.
13. Be careful in choosing rabbit pellets
Some rabbit pellets are not good for your bunnies. Choose pellets with at least 20% crude fiber, less than 14% protein, and lower than 2% fat. Avoid yogurt drops and other dangerous “treats” that some pet stores sell. Rabbits must not also eat dairy.
Giving pellets is convenient, but unnecessary to adult rabbits if you’re already giving them unlimited timothy hay and fresh greens. It’s not also advisable to mix pellets with dried fruits, seeds, or nuts.
14. Rabbits have a unique way of deciding who they like
Rabbits inform who they love or hate through silent communication and body language. Many of them enjoy making friends with other rabbits. But just like humans, some bunnies prefer to be alone.
15. Rabbits will die if you don’t care about them
Rabbits will die if you can’t take care of them and dump them outside somewhere. Ideally, you must not dump any pets outside, especially domestic animals.
If you can no longer care for your rabbits, call the nearest shelter or rescue to arrange for a safe surrender. There are also pet foster parents who want to adopt abandoned rabbits.
16. Protect them from poison
Avoid rabbits getting into flower beds or other areas that contain poisonous plants and plants sprayed with herbicides or pesticides.
In the house, poisonous plants must be placed out of the rabbit’s reach. Cleaning materials like liquids, medicines, or other products should be kept away from them as well. If your rabbit comes in contact with harmful things, immediately consult the vet.
17. Be aware of plants they hate
Rabbits hate some plants or scents that you should keep away from your home. For instance, they hate the smells of blood, crushed red peppers, vinegar, ammonia, and garlic. They also avoid the smell of rabbit repellents, which replicate the odor of their predators’ urine.
18. Plants and flowers they love to eat
Rabbits are fond of lettuce, beans, and broccoli. They also love to taste flowers like gazanias, marigolds, pansies, and petunias. Although, in hard situations, rabbits eat almost any plant.
19. They need much exercise
It’s recommended that rabbits dedicate four hours to exercise every day. Enclosing them inside the cage all day isn’t a good idea. Like humans, these animals need to exercise to maintain overall good health, including good digestion and mental health.
20. Rabbits sleep during the day and night
Rabbits are crepuscular, which means they usually sleep during the day and at night, and are awake at dusk and dawn.
21. They run fast
Rabbits are prey animals that move quickly to escape predators. They are fast runners, and it’s fun to watch them scurrying around your yard. If they get outside the hutches, they love to run and hide, which leads to endless hide-and-seek games.
Bunnies are hard to catch if you let them run around the yard without fences or inside the house with an open door. Yet, it doesn’t mean that they want to run away from their owners.
22. Rabbits eat leftovers
Bunnies eat almost everything. They can get rid of the food waste in the bin.
Here are some foods they like:
- Apple and pear cores
- The peeled part of carrots or a whole carrot
- Cauliflower rinds, cantaloupe, or watermelon rinds
- Beets, parsnips, or other root vegetables
- Strawberry tops
- Herbs and dandelions
Ponies are very fascinating animals that have a calmer temperament than horses. They love the outdoors, but they don’t require a lot of running and exercise. If you want to take care of these animals, the first question that you need to ask yourself is: can you have a pony in your backyard? Read our article to find out.
Why It’s a Good Idea to Have a Rabbit Living in Your Backyard
The primary benefit of having a backyard rabbit is free manure. They are also trainable and eco-friendly, and love recycled toys. You can also help conserve their heritage breeds, and your kids love them and learn how to care for them responsibly as well. And if you only have a small space and don’t want to walk a pet daily, yet have ample time to play, you may consider getting a bunny.
Here are great reasons to welcome a rabbit in your backyard.
1. Free manure fertilizer
Rabbits are efficient natural composters. They produce a steady supply of valuable fertilizer for the plants in your backyard. You’ll get all the benefits of cow, poultry, or horse manure from bunnies’ manure.
They are also considered “cold” manure, while the manure that comes from cows, poultry, and horses is considered “hot.” Cold manure is recommended for vegetable gardeners since it’s an effective and sustainable fertilizer.
2. Rabbits are eco-friendly
Rabbits love playing with recycled toys, like toilet paper rolls filled with hay, used cardboard boxes with a cutout door, or even an old phone book. You can create their litter box out of the natural litter and can grow herbs and greens right in your backyard.
3. They spend a long time with you
Rabbits usually live eight years and up to 12. You’ll have a lot of time to spend with them. Wild rabbits struggle with stress and predators, while domestic rabbits have regular access to food and refuge.
4. Bunnies reduce stress
Several scientific studies state that watching an animal lessens cortisol, the stress hormone, while increasing serotonin, the happy molecule. Thus, embracing life with a rabbit lowers blood pressure.
5. They are low maintenance compared to dogs
Some rabbits don’t need vaccines and are litter-pan trained. Others don’t need to visit the vet for regular care and are easy to take care of for children.
6. Rabbits are entertaining
Rabbits are intelligent. They can learn tricks and play games. Although, it’s more entertaining if you adopt two.
7. They are darn cute
Rabbits are perfect pets for every homeowner who has time and finances for their pets. The family should be willing to understand the needs of these creatures before adopting them, and may talk to a veterinarian or experienced rabbit owner, like a long-term bunny breeder in your area.
8. Rabbit is easy to rescue
Rescuing a needy rabbit is simple to do. Providing a new place to live to abandoned and homeless rabbits is the best thing to do. Lost rabbits are easy to find, and the internet is a great resource to look for your pet.
9. They have varied personalities
Rabbits can be charming, friendly, lively, goofy, and a little bit of everything. You’ll be amazed by the diverse personalities and attitudes of your rabbit.
10. Lovely companions
Rabbits can make you smile when you’re upset, can listen when you need someone to talk to, and will snuggle with you when you need a companion.
11. Rabbits are quiet
Generally, rabbits make little to no sound. They are quiet and great, especially if you’re a light sleeper.
12. They need less space than other pets
If you live in a small house and are looking for a cuddly pet, rabbits are perfect for you. After they get a couple of exercises running around the backyard, they can be kept inside their cages.
13. Bunnies are trainable
Rabbits cannot only be trained using a litter pan, but they can also learn to run through obstacles and do tricks. Rabbit owners can encourage their bunnies to learn specific behaviors by repeatedly rewarding them with special treats when they perform well.
In just a few minutes of training, rabbits can learn to jump through hoops, fetch items, and run around mazes.
14. Kids love them and can learn responsibly
Most kids are fond of playing with pets, especially if they live inside the house. Kids will likely treat them as humans, giving them food and water. They will learn to take care of an animal and make it their hobby.
15. You can help protect heritage breeds
You can help conserve these breeds and keep heritage alive by raising rabbits since various rabbit breeds are threatened or on critical status.
16. You can learn to make their fur as fiber
Various rabbit breeds produce a consequent amount of hair, and their fur can be harvested and spun, just like sheep’s wool. You’ll get benefits without the expense and ample space.
17. You can get highly nutritious meat
Rabbits are pets, but if you’re looking for a healthy and sustainable source of meat, you can consider rabbits in your backyard or on a farm. Their meat contains less fat and cholesterol than chicken and offers more proteins than beef or pork.
Most people keep cats and dogs as pets, but if you want to try something different, why not try raising rabbits? They are cute, cuddly, quiet, and they don’t need a lot of space to thrive and be happy. They can be great companions considering their lifespan. Just provide them with a healthy environment. When you consider all their requirements, it’s easy to raise backyard rabbits.
Some people keep rabbits as pets while some raise them for meat. Regardless of the purpose, it’s necessary to learn some of their needs in order to take care of them properly. After reading this article, you should already be quite knowledgeable about taking care of rabbits. All that is left to do now is to get one, or maybe two, for your backyard.