Rabbits are curious but also escape animals. They like to dig and have a very flexible locomotor system.
Ideal conditions, therefore, to fit through small gaps, dig holes and find other creative ways out of the run.
This can lead to terrifying moments for you, but also to the question of whether rabbits have a good sense of direction and can find their way back home if the worst happens.
Here you will get not only answers to this, but also tips that can prevent the runaway.
How good is the sense of direction in rabbits?
Rabbits are very territorial animals.
They mark their areas and easily find their way around them by sight and smell. This is also important for prey animals, so that they can get to safety from attackers as quickly as possible.
So orientation works perfectly here.
It can behave differently after leaving the territory or in the case of your rabbits of the run.
Orientation is still good then, but unlike in the natural habitat, many distractions and new influences await the animals. This can make finding their way around much more difficult.
So despite the good sense of orientation, it is not guaranteed that your rabbit (can) come back.
Because the risks are great!
Runaway rabbits: What are the dangers?
The fact that rabbits don’t come back after running away is usually not due to a lack of sense of direction.
Instead, distractions and hazards play crucial roles.
Road traffic People (barking) and chasing dogs Noise from construction equipment and gardening tools laid out poison cold and lack of protection lack of food lack of water sources
Especially in extreme temperatures and in densely populated areas, factors such as food, water and shelter can quickly become problematic.
In areas close to nature, on the other hand, predators play a crucial role.
These include dogs and, to some extent, cats. Birds of prey, foxes and raccoons must also be considered, even in urban areas.
This is what to do if your rabbit escapes
If one of your animals has escaped, the shock is great.
However, you should quickly collect yourself and calm down to behave properly. The following instructions can show you the best way to proceed.
Are all the others still there: Count whether the rest of the rabbits are still present and search the run as well as the hutch. If necessary, one of the animals may have just gone into hiding or is taking a nap in one of the sleeping houses.
Seal the exit: If you find a hole under or in the fence during your inspection, close it up immediately. While you are out searching for the runaway rabbit, you certainly don’t want to have to worry about the other animals as well. If it is not possible to safely block the exit, move the rabbits indoors or into the hutch.
Scout the garden: Before you embark on a large-scale search, check the garden. Keep in mind that the animals also live in small niches and like to hide. Therefore, search under bushes and shrubs, near woodpiles or the compost, under the hedge and in narrow areas. Also, check the entire fence. You may find a weak spot and a clue as to which direction the animal escaped. This can be extremely helpful.
Get help: Inform friends and family. Someone may be able to help you with the search or create notices and inform veterinarians and animal shelters. Broaden the search: After these initial steps, you should expand your search radius. It is best to proceed in widening circles. This will also allow for hooking and directional changes by the rabbits. Place notices: If the initial search is unsuccessful, you should first spend your energy on notices, vets, and shelters. With luck, someone will have found your rabbit and turned it in or will be looking for the owner.
When posting the notice, make sure it:
- contains a good photo
- your phone number is clearly visible or, ideally, can be torn off
- protected from rain
- is at reading height
It should also contain a warning not to pursue or capture the animal.
The panic caused by this could put your rabbit in even more danger.
Take the notices to all veterinarians and animal shelters in the area. This will increase the chances that other people will keep their eyes open as well.
How to behave when the rabbit is found?
Behave calmly and carefully!
Even if it is a very tame rabbit, it may be skittish and fearful at first. Avoid frantic movements and loud noises.
Ideally, you will have very popular treats and a familiar transport box with you. This way you can put a trail of food all the way into the box and lure your pet in.
Our tip: Take a deep breath and stay as calm and patient as possible. The rabbit will not jump joyfully into your arms. You will have a hard time not to go over to the hunt. After all, you want your animal to be safe as soon as possible. But this is exactly the mistake that can lead to another escape.
What if the rabbit comes back?
While you are out looking for your rabbit, the animal may return.
However, the weak spot in the run can no longer be used as an exit or entrance.
Therefore, set up a cage or transport box and place food and water in it. This will give you a chance to provide shelter during your absence, especially for very tame animals.
Preventing rabbit escapes: How to prepare the hutch properly!
If you want to save yourself and your rabbit from terror, fear, panic and danger, prevention is key.
Make the run safe!
This applies to both the above-ground and underground parts.
You need to consider the following criteria:
1: Sturdy materials
Thin and flexible grids and wire varieties can be pushed on.
Solid, stable designs are preferable. They not only reduce the risk of escape, but also protect the animals from enemies and intruders. They also withstand extensive cleaning, strong winds and heavy downpours.
It is still important to have secure anchors in the ground. Thin wire rods, as often found on relocatable prefabricated spouts, bend quickly and are unlikely to withstand even minor forces.
Rather, choose strong wooden posts or square metal that must be driven deep into the ground.
2: Secure connections
As with a durable garden fence, the connectors are critical to the safety of the rabbit run.
Strong posts also provide an anchor in the ground.
The individual elements must be securely fastened to them so they cannot be forced open from the inside or outside.
3: Breakout protection under the ground
Rabbits like to dig, frequently and extensively.
So no matter how secure you make the fence, you’ll find plenty of pathways underneath.
Buried lawn edging stones can serve as a safeguard here. The deeper they go, the better. An alternative is solid wire, which also runs directly under the fence.
4: Have your rabbit chipped
You can have your rabbit chipped. This way it can be clearly assigned to you.
A final piece of advice
The four measures seem like a lot of effort to you?
You are right!
However, the rabbits are only so safe. If you keep them outside in summer or even all year round in a free run with a hutch, there is no alternative.
You can then not move the free run, but carefree provide for continuous use.
Even if it means a lot of effort at the beginning, it will save you work and money over the years. You don’t have to replace materials or repair damage, and you don’t have to search for your animals.
With relocation options, securing the run itself is limited.
So you have two options:
You supervise the animals throughout and leave them in there only briefly at a time. You make the garden fence animal-proof.
Financially, the second option is more expensive, but it is a safe measure to prevent your rabbits from escaping.
Because even if they make it out of the free run, the garden fence is a safe barrier for them.
But remember that this does not apply to cats, foxes and birds of prey!
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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