Thinking Outside the Hutch for Your Rabbit
Jan 30, 2017 07:46PM ● Published by North Hills Monthly magazine
By Samantha Rodgers, Animal Friends Adoption Counselor
About Outdoor Rabbit Hutches
Many domesticated rabbits are kept outdoors in hutches because their owners feel that these will keep them safe from harsh weather conditions and predators. The truth is, many of these hutches provide little more shelter and security for outdoor rabbits than an open field. More importantly, to truly know your rabbit, it takes constant interaction–something you simply can’t have when he or she spends day and night contained in a hutch in the yard.
Benefits of Indoor Living
Since they are social animals, rabbits require much more than daily feedings and occasional playtimes to be comfortable with humans and to let their true personalities shine. Rabbits give very subtle hints when something is wrong – particularly if they’re dealing with illness or injury. Without regular interaction, it can be difficult to pick up on discreet cues such as changes in eating habits, behavior or personality.
Indoor rabbits quickly become a part of the family. Because they have more interaction with people, they are typically much happier, active and social. Having your bunny buddy nearby strengthens the bond you share and, of course, you’ll enjoy plenty of snuggly companionship after a long day. Most importantly, living in close proximity to your rabbit will help you notice if he or she is acting out of the ordinary.
How to Bring Your Bunny Inside
Some people worry that their outdoor rabbit will not adapt well to living indoors. In fact, even rabbits that have spent their lives in a hutch outside are very happy to have a warm and comfortable home where they are safe from predators. You can prepare your house so that your rabbit will feel right at home, even if he or she has been living outside.
Indoor rabbits need a crate or exercise pen where they will spend the nights and other times when they’re not being supervised. This area should contain a litterbox, food and water bowls and some sort of cubbie or box–rabbits like to have a hiding place where they can go to feel safe. Toys made from untreated wood or cardboard are fun for rabbits to nibble and are safe for them to ingest.
If your rabbit is kept in a crate, he or she will need some time each day for supervised play and exercise. You’ll need to create a safe area such as a small room with a door or a gated area of your home. Make sure that this space is free of anything unsafe for rabbits to chew including certain plants, treated or painted wood or electrical wires. Having a special play area will give you the opportunity to interact with your bunny, strengthening your bond and helping you get to know each other. Playtime is not only beneficial for your rabbit’s health and well-being, but the cuddling that follows is a great way to relax and reduces stress for both of you!
Just like dogs or cats, rabbits make great animal companions. It’s important to remember that your domesticated bunny is not the same as the wild rabbits you see in the yard. Open your home to your long-eared friend and they’ll repay you with a bond that grows stronger by the day. Visit www.ThinkingOutsideTheCage.org/Rabbits to learn more about adding a homeless hopper to your family.