Can You Let Pet Rabbits Run Free In The Garden?
Rabbits undoubtedly feel best in the great outdoors. So keeping them in the garden is ideal if you want to increase the well-being of your animals permanently.
However, there are also some dangers and risks associated with keeping your rabbits outdoors!
We will now tell you what these are and how you can get your animals ideally accustomed to living conditions in the great outdoors.
Can rabbits be allowed to run freely in the garden?
Yes, rabbits can generally be allowed to run free in the garden. However, you should take some precautions to ensure safe exercise for your rabbits and to ensure their maximum well-being.
Also, the breed of your rabbits plays a big role.
Heavily “overbred” breeds, such as the Rex or Lionhead rabbit, are not suitable for year-round outdoor living. This is because the fur of these animals is not made to withstand freezing temperatures in winter – there is no undercoat in these breeds.
In addition, baby rabbits as well as sick or old animals should not live in the garden day and night. These animals need special attention and observation, so additional stress or fluctuating temperatures can do a lot of damage to the animals.
As soon as the fur of your baby rabbits has grown, keeping them in the garden is possible without any problems, the rabbit does not have to have reached its final body size yet.
For the majority of rabbits, gardening offers some significant advantages that can greatly increase the well-being of your rabbits.
On the other hand, there are of course some dangers that should be considered in advance in order to take precautions.
In the following section, we will first take a closer look at the advantages of keeping rabbits in the garden.
The advantages: This is why you should keep rabbits in the garden!
Keeping rabbits in the garden is the most natural and species-appropriate way of keeping rabbits.
Your animals have space, can move freely and do all the activities that are in their genes. In addition, you will find that rabbits that live in the garden are much more balanced than rabbits that spend their lives indoors.
The diet is also much healthier in the garden. Your rabbits can eat fresh clover, dandelions and lush grass at any time.
With clover, however, care should be taken to ensure that the animals only eat small amounts. Clover (just like cabbage) has a flatulent effect, which can negatively affect your rabbit’s digestion.
The ample space in the garden also invites them to play and dig. However, make sure that your rabbits find sufficient shelter, otherwise a large open space primarily means a lot of stress for the animals.
Rabbits are and remain flight or prey animals!
Despite all the advantages of keeping rabbits in the garden, there are also some dangers that you should be aware of and eliminate in order to protect your animals and their health. Now you can find out what these dangers are.
These are the dangers: how to make your garden rabbit-safe!
- your rabbits escape
One hole in the fence or in the ground and every pet owner’s nightmare becomes reality sooner than they’d like: the rabbit runs away and can’t be found!
Our domesticated domestic rabbits are virtually unable to survive on their own in the wild. In view of this, it is important to prevent your rabbit from escaping at all costs.
Tip: Here we tell you how good the sense of direction of a runaway rabbit is.
You can successfully thwart escape attempts by fencing the garden with sturdy, close-meshed wire and making sure that the fence also extends a little (about half a meter) into the ground.
This will prevent your rabbit from digging under the fence.
Check the fence for damage at least weekly (preferably daily) to detect and repair it early, so your rabbits can enjoy an all-around safe run.
- threat of predators
The natural enemies of your rabbits should not be underestimated.
Foxes, for example, like to roam gardens near woods at night and would be happy to snatch your rabbits as a small “snack”. This is an additional reason why the fence should extend a good distance into the ground, as foxes like to burrow under fences.
Birds of prey, such as buzzards, can also quickly become a serious threat to your rabbits’ lives. Therefore, it can be useful to protect your rabbits from the attacks of birds of prey with the help of a net stretched over the fence.
Scarecrows can also help to successfully keep them away from your rabbits.
Also keep in mind that free-roaming cats can become a danger to your rabbits.
Also, make sure your animals have plenty of hiding places where they can hide and feel safe if a hostile animal is prowling around the garden.
- danger of drowning
Are you also one of those people who have a pond in your backyard?
This body of water can quickly become a danger to your rabbits.
While rabbits naturally avoid water and you won’t see your rabbit go swimming voluntarily, various circumstances can cause your rabbit to fall into the pond, not be able to get out, and in the worst case scenario, drown.
Therefore, be sure to secure your pond so that your rabbit cannot fall in.
Predators are not the only external threat to your rabbits. Unfortunately, there are always people who have no inhibitions and will take a good opportunity to literally steal your rabbits out from under your nose.
Of course, no net or similar will help here.
Instead, you should make sure that you keep your rabbits in a place that doesn’t offer good visibility, so that people walking past your property on the street don’t even realize that you are keeping rabbits loose in the garden.
Motion detectors can also help scare thieves and send them running.
- poisonous plants
Not everything that grows in your garden should be eaten by your rabbits.
Therefore, find out in advance exactly which plants pose a danger to your animals and walk your garden every day to remove poisonous plants.
Otherwise, eating these plants can cause damage to your pet’s health or, in the worst case, even death.
Examples of poisonous plants include:
- Angel’s trumpet
Poisoning is not to be trifled with!
If you suspect that your rabbit has eaten a poisonous plant, your way should lead you to the vet immediately!
Before allowing your rabbit to run free in the garden, make sure that there are no sharp objects in the garden that could injure your rabbit.
It is also important that there is no plastic in the garden that your rabbits could gnaw on and, in the worst case, eat.
Also keep in mind that rabbits are very athletic animals that can jump and climb very high, which means that higher places should be kept free of hazards.
Diseases are not only transmitted from rabbit to rabbit, but can also come from other species or the environment.
For this reason, you should only allow your rabbits to run freely in the garden if your pet is fully vaccinated.
Especially if you live in an area where there are many wild rabbits and hares, vaccination is essential – because the wild comrades of your pets will most likely stick their noses through the fence curiously to see who is living in your garden.
4 tips for your garden
To conclude this article, we would like to give you four practical tips that will help you optimize the gardening of your rabbits and protect them from danger.
- in the cage at night
If you don’t really feel comfortable with the idea of leaving your rabbits unattended in the garden overnight, you can of course bring your rabbits into the hutch for the night hours and only let them out again the next morning.
The big advantage of this approach is also that a hutch can be equipped with a lock, which makes it much harder for thieves to steal your rabbits.
In addition, the effort will usually be too much for them and they will prefer to choose another target.
Keeping your rabbits indoors at night can also have some positive aspects in winter.
For example, in a well-insulated barn, your animals are protected from wind, weather and cold, so they can relax and sleep in peace.
In the summer, make sure that the air in the animal’s hutch can circulate well, so that the stuffy air does not build up inside the hutch, because rabbits can hardly compensate for heat.
- provide enough toys
Exercise and plenty of space alone are not enough to keep your rabbits happy and content.
To keep your rabbits busy and satisfy their natural gnawing urges, it’s important to stock your yard with rabbit-friendly toys.
It’s also a good idea to alternate the items a bit so that your rabbits always have new input and don’t get bored easily.
In addition to toys, you should always have fresh food, water and several hiding places.
- separate an area in the garden
Depending on how big your garden is, it may make sense to separate a separate area for your rabbits.
This way, you won’t have to turn the whole garden upside down in search of your animals.
Also, if there is too much space accessible in the garden, subgroups may form in your rabbit group and not all the animals will get along with each other.
Of course, it is equally important that your rabbits are not crammed into a small space.
As a rule of thumb, two to three square meters of floor space per rabbit is ideal so that the animals can avoid each other but still develop a sense of group belonging.
Of course, the general rule is: better a little too much space than too little!
- plan for sudden weather changes
The weather is sometimes just unpredictable and hard to interpret for your weather-sensitive rabbits.
Therefore, design your rabbit run and also the facility so that your rabbits can find a suitable place where they feel comfortable in all kinds of weather.
Rabbits are afraid of thunderstorms and therefore need retreat possibilities!
In summer, for example, stone slabs placed in the shade can provide cooling, while shelters insulated with hay provide a cozy warmth in winter.
In addition, you should make sure that your rabbits get enough sun, but can also cool down in the shade if necessary.
My name is Mark and the senior editor
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