Backyard Rabbits

Backyard Rabbits

We love to let our rabbits have the run of the yard.  They enjoy eating grass and weeds and running or just laying around.  You can really see the happiness in them when they have the freedom to do what they want.  This, of course, is a double-edged sword and their freedom comes at a cost.  There is always a chance that a passing hawk could scoop them up, or a raccoon or cat could take them out.  These are just a couple of the possibilities. We address the predator issue by letting our dog watch and protect the rabbits.  She seems to love the rabbits as much as we do.

Be extremely careful with summer temperatures!

Besides the predator threats, there are also other concerns that you have to consider when you let your rabbits play in the yard.  When you raise rabbits inside, you can control their environment.  when they run free outside, they are exposed to flies, ticks, and warbles.  You can learn about warbles in our other articles where we go into full detail including extracting them.  

Another important threat to rabbits is the summer heat.  Rabbits do very well in the cold but heat stroke can be very deadly for them.  Because of their very dense fur and the fact that they don't pant or sweat, it is difficult for them to cool down if they overheat.  The signs of dehydration and overheating are easy to overlook and by  
the time that you realize they are in distress, it may be too late.  So it is crucial that you make sure that they always have plenty of shade and cool water to drink.  Another danger that is commonly overlooked and can be fatal to rabbits is chemicals that are used to treat your lawn and weeds.  Make sure that all treatments are pet-friendly and safe for the rabbits to consume.  Rabbits are pretty smart when it comes to eating wild edibles however some weeds and plants are toxic for them.  Be sure to fence off or remove any plants or weeds that you are unsure of.  
Most rabbits love to dig when they are in an outdoor environment.  They may dig for various reasons but ultimately they dig out of instinct.  When rabbits live in the wild, they create burrows in the ground to live in and sometimes even a whole network of connected burrows with multiple entrances to escape predators. Rabbits are known to dig simply because they enjoy the activity while others may dig out of sheer boredom.  For such small animals, they are very efficient at it and can dig deep burrows in a short period of time. For these reasons, it is important to
walk the perimeter of your fences daily and cover any digs that you find right away.  They are generally offended when you cover their holes after they spent all that effort digging them and will likely return to re-dig them after you leave.  We have found that after you cover the hole, you can place a small concrete block or paver on top to deter reoccurrence however if they are determined, they may just dig under it anyway.  Make sure that your fences are in good shape.  Plug any holes and keep gates locked.  Block off any areas of your yard that can be dangerous for the rabbits.  Keep other unfriendly pets away from the rabbits.

Shelters and Tractor Cages

Outdoor rabbits need the ability to get out of the weather and the heat.  A shelter with access to food, water, and shade is critical to the health and comfort of your rabbits.  Whether you let them run free in the backyard or have them in a tractor cage, they need these basic amenities to survive and have a good quality of life. 

In the heat of the summer, a rabbit's shelter or tractor cage should be well-ventilated to allow adequate airflow.  Without this, rabbits can develop serious Pasteurella respiratory infections. It is a good idea to have frozen bottles of water for them to lie next to so they can cool down.  Collect several bottles and switch them out throughout the day as they thaw. A fan on the "low" setting is also helpful in keeping them cool.  We use a 12-volt fan connected to a solar panel to provide this luxury for our rabbits and it literally costs us nothing but can save the rabbits' life while keeping them comfortable.  Check on them often to make sure that they are not too hot.  Learn the symptoms of Hyperthermia and early signs of heat distress.

Rabbit FAQs:

How cold is too cold for outdoor rabbits?
Rabbits do very well in cold temperatures however temps below 20 degrees Fahrenheit may be too cold for your rabbits and you may need to take some extra precautions to keep them comfortable outdoors at these temperatures.  Also, when the temperature is below 32 degrees Fahrenheit, you will need to have a way to keep their water source from freezing.
Can outdoor rabbits overheat?
How long do outside rabbits live?
What is the best bedding to keep rabbits warm?
Is rabbit poop toxic to dogs?

© 2023 Butler Productions. All Rights Reserved. Powered by Feral Goats