Rabbits need to be kept warm and dry, so they make ideal pets as house rabbits, however they can also live in rabbit hutches outside as long as they are kept safe, warm and dry, and you give them lots of company every day. If they are lonely, cold or wet, their life expectancy and general wellbeing will be much reduced.
Accomodating Your Rabbit
If your rabbit is to live outside, you should keep it in a secure hutch. The hutch should be large enough for your rabbit to take several hops in any direction, and should have an outdoor run and a smaller enclosed sleeping area.
The outdoor run should have a solid floor and wire mesh on at least one side to let plenty of light in. The enclosed sleeping area should have a small entrance from the run and should be enclosed by solid walls on all sides. The entire hutch should have a solid roof to keep the rain off, the roof can hinge upwards to give you easy access for cleaning.
Cover the whole floor of the hutch with suitable bedding, such as wood shavings, hay or newspaper. Make the layer of bedding thicker in the sleeping area.
Your rabbit will choose a section of the hutch to use as its toilet area; you should clean this area each day and clean the whole hutch around once a week. Use an animal safe disinfectant when cleaning. You should also provide a supply of hay and water, see our feeding section for more information about this.
As your rabbit is in a hutch outdoors, it needs good protection from predators. If possible, raise the hutch off the floor to make it harder for predators to reach. Make sure that the wire mesh on the sides of the cage is a small mesh so that it would be very hard for an animal such as a cat to reach inside.
Playing In The Garden
If you let your rabbit out of its hutch to run around the garden, it is important to supervise it at all times. Before your rabbit goes out in the garden, go all around the edges of the garden and make sure there are no little gaps that it could escape through. Be aware that a rabbit could very quickly dig under a fence that is resting on soil.
You could also use a rabbit harness and lead to keep your rabbit safe. Use a proper rabbit harness, not just a collar, as rabbits do not have strong enough necks for collars and leads. A proper harness fits around the middle as well as the neck to make sure that the neck is not at risk of injury.
Rabbits don’t always know to avoid plants that are poisonous to them, so make sure that you have nothing that your rabbit could eat that is not safe for them to do so. See our feeding section for foods that are safe and plants that are poisonous.