Free outdoor keeping in their own garden is usually no problem for rabbits.
On the contrary, the animals love to be allowed to move around in the fresh air.
But what about at night? Can rabbits be left outdoors or should they preferably spend the night indoors?
The answer is here!
Can rabbits be kept outside at night?
Yes, you can keep your rabbits outside both during the day and at night. However, only if certain conditions are met. For example, it is important that your rabbits are accustomed to the temperatures outside and that a suitable hutch with retreat possibilities is provided.
If you have kept your rabbits indoors so far, it is recommended that you gradually accustom the animals to the outside temperatures in the spring (yes, it absolutely has to be in the spring!).
Start by letting them outside for hours during the day. Increase this time until the animals can stay outside all day without any problems and without freezing.
Make sure your rabbits don’t stay outside at night until there is no more ground frost. Otherwise, temperatures are simply too low for acclimation and your rabbits will freeze.
The fur also needs a few weeks or even months to adjust optimally to the new conditions.
Once you have accustomed your rabbits to the outdoor environment, it is usually no problem to leave them outside during the day and at night in all four seasons.
In summer or autumn it is already too late for the acclimatization and the organism of the animals cannot adapt sufficiently to the new conditions. Consequently, in winter the fur is not dense enough and your rabbits will be cold.
If you have missed the ideal time, it is therefore recommended that you leave your rabbits indoors until next spring.
Are all rabbits suitable for outdoor housing?
No, not all rabbits are suitable for (permanent) outdoor housing.
Old, sick or generally weak animals should not be exposed to the sometimes very strong weather changes.
Baby rabbits or young rabbits whose fur is not yet fully developed are also better off kept indoors (with occasional free running for a few hours in good weather with pleasant temperatures).
In addition, there are breeds of rabbits that tend to get cold quickly due to their coat texture: Lion-headed rabbits may have a lot of fur from a visual standpoint, but on closer inspection it consists only of long hairs.
These rabbits lack the warming undercoat, which means that they cannot regulate their temperature sufficiently themselves in cooler temperatures.
Therefore, it can be said that there are breeds of rabbits that should not be kept outside all year round, despite their health!
Of course, there is nothing to be said against a few hours of outdoor exercise during the day when the weather is nice and the temperatures are mild, even for these breeds!
What do I have to keep in mind when keeping my pet outside?
When setting up the outdoor enclosure, make sure that your animals have both sun and shade areas available. Also, keep in mind that the sun can greatly heat up the houses and other shelters when they are directly exposed to it.
In these cases, it’s a good idea to set up additional sun shades to absorb much of the heat.
Ideally, you should place the enclosure so that there is a tree nearby that can reliably shade a portion of the enclosure.
It is also important that the enclosure provides protection from predators such as foxes. Especially at night it is not uncommon that foxes occasionally roam through gardens and in this case your rabbits would be a found meal.
Also, of course, you should make sure that the plants inside the enclosure are not fertilized or otherwise contaminated with pollutants.
Rabbits are rodents and can become very ill if they eat plants that have been treated with chemicals.
6 tips for optimal rabbit sleep when kept outdoors.
- a safe place to sleep
Rabbits are escape animals and therefore do not feel safe in a wide open space.
For this reason, you should provide several hutches or other shelters for your rabbit to retreat to. This is where your pet can relax and truly find peace.
- enough hay for the coziness
Make sure your rabbits have a cozy nest available to keep them warm while providing a soft place to lie.
Also, make sure your hutch has enough room for at least two rabbits so they can cuddle together while sleeping.
3 Insulate the hutch
Rabbits can also get sick from drafts.
In view of this, it is highly recommended that you insulate your animals’ hutch especially well, so that it can provide reliable protection for your animals in wind and weather. This is the only way your rabbit can relax physically.
- blankets against the cold in winter
Yes, rabbits can get cold in winter just like we humans do. Therefore, it can be useful if you cover your hutch with a fleece blanket or similar during low temperatures, especially at night, so that the hutch can better retain heat.
This way, the animal’s organism does not have to struggle as much with temperature equalization and your rabbits’ sleep is much more restful.
- avoid noise
Noise always means stress and stress prevents a restful sleep.
Choose the location of your rabbit enclosure wisely. Ideally, you should place the enclosure in a quiet and protected place behind the house. Street noise etc. will be muffled a bit and your rabbits will be able to rest better.
It is also easier for them to sleep through the night in a quiet environment.
- provide a dark environment
A bright environment can drastically decrease the quality of your rabbit’s sleep.
Fleeing animals like rabbits feel much safer in the dark than in the spotlight, which will cause them to sleep more deeply. Streetlights, patio lights (which are triggered by motion detectors) and co. should therefore not be able to shine directly into the enclosure.
My name is Mark and the senior editor
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I have spent a lifetime learning about pets and animals, and have worked in the pet and vet industry for over 20 years now!
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