Can A Rabbit Be Healthy Outdoors?


Many rabbit owners automatically place their rabbit hutch in the garden, or outdoor space, thinking this is a good environment for them. Experts in rabbit care give many cautions on using rabbit hutches outdoors , for practical health reasons. This article explores the ideal temperatures for their health, whether to house them in the garage or garden and whether the local climate is dangerous for them or not. This should help give you some guidelines for whether or not your rabbit is really suited to outdoor hutch living.

rabbit03 by ijansempoi

Over heating and over cooling dangers

Paradoxically, although bunnies are often seen in garden hutches, they actually can’t handle temperatures which are too hot or too cold. Their body temperature is 38.6-39.4 C in good health (1) and they need to have a cosy hutch to prevent them getting too cold – in essence, they’re hardy, but not that hardy (1, 2, 3) . Place the hutch out of the wind or draughts, and attach thick canvas to lower over the hutch as a night-time cover, and line it with substantial layers of newspaper plus untreated soft wood shavings on top for warmth. Move the hutch to the shade in hot weather. Keep the temperature ambient – some owners put the hutch in the garage instead to try to avoid extremely hot or cold conditions.

Garage Living

In colder weather, or even all year round, some try the garage. This has some advantages – it’s out of the biting winds and probably warmer than outside. However, it can still be cold and there may be fumes from the car to content with. If your garage is used for DIY projects, you need to be careful not to make your bunny breathe in fumes from any solvents or other chemicals you’ve been using. Your bunny may also get lonely in there with just the car for company. It all needs to be cosy as if it was outdoors, away from fumes and as naturally sociable animals, you may find your rabbit or rabbits crave company. Gardens may provide your rabbit with more company but hutches there need to be especially prepared for safety.

missing staircase by steve-oh

Garden Living

A sloping roof will help slough off rain but check nonetheless for mildew or mould formation. Part of the world of the garden is definitely predators, such as the urban fox. You need a very sturdy hutch to keep them out. Make sure the mesh on the front of the hutch is especially strong and exceptionally well attached. Predators such as rats are a reason to keep the hutch off the ground as well as damp. Even if predators don’t get in, bunnies have died of fright during predator attacks (2). An outdoor hutch must keep predators, rain and damp out, but may go a step closer to providing stimulation.

There are pros and cons to keeping the rabbit hutch outdoors or in the garage. Some owners simply opt to put the hutch in their house or in a porch where the door can be open to the house for more social contact. Although rabbits need their run in the daytime, at night, they must NEVER be left in an outdoor or garage run – this simply invites predators. Whilst many advice pages still talk about outdoor hutches, the safest possible option it is to ditch the traditional outdoor life and bring them in to rule out wild predator attack, bearing in mind indoor safety requirements too.

the fox by bully27

Kim Wryall

References:

1. EASE. The EASE Guide to Caring for RABBITS [online]. Available at:

http://www.link2content.co.uk/uploads/bva/rabbit.pdf

2. House Rabbit Society. FAQ: Housing. [online]. Available at:

http://www.rabbit.org/faq/sections/housing.html

Photo credits -fantastic photos by:

Blue eyed rabbit http://www.sxc.hu/profile/ijansempoi Garage – did you notice the missing staircase for the red door? http://www.sxc.hu/profile/steve-oh Fox http://www.sxc.hu/profile/Bully27

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Categories: Outdoor Hutches | Author: admin | Comments: 13 Comments |

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