Rabbits need plenty of space to run, jump and play. In fact, a rabbit’s legs are built for jumping and sprinting. Rabbits should never be placed in cages or crates and just left there with no exercise or play time.
Though some owners are unable to take their pet rabbits outside, indoor exercise spaces should be available. If rabbits have a primary enclosure, make sure to provide lengthy exercise times each day and night.
Outdoor playtime is very enjoyable because of a rabbit’s base nature. If you do not have an area where you can safely allow your pet rabbit to freely play outdoors, you can make a rabbit run. A rabbit run is a long, oblong area which is fully enclosed to allow bunnies to freely run and play. This can be accomplished by using pet fencing or other materials.
Since there may be outdoor plants or bushes that are not good for your rabbit, outdoor playtime supervision is important. Some rabbits will not go near toxic plants. Others will take a small bite and move along without eating enough to cause harm. However, on rare occasion, a rabbit will eat just about anything that grows from the ground.
Outdoor Play Considerations
- It is helpful to feed your rabbit some greens and a small portion of pellets (if used) prior to going outside. Feeding prior to going outdoors will help deter a rabbit from eating plants that might be harmful
- Know the plants, bushes and trees in your yard and keep rabbit away from those you suspect are toxic (especially plants and flowers that originate from bulbs)
- Make sure your lawn is pesticide and chemical-free, as rabbits enjoy eating the grass
- Section off a part of the yard with fencing so that your rabbit cannot access unsafe plants and foliage or other potentially harmful items
- Prevent access to small areas that the rabbit can fit into, but you cannot (example: Under decks or openings that go beneath the house)
- Allow 20-30 minutes for running and exercise in the morning and again at night (longer, if possible)
- If you use a harness and leash to take your rabbit into a public place, research carefully and consider the inherent risks and the stress it will cause your animal.
- Veterinarian clinics and rabbit care experts report that rabbits have been euthanized as a result of broken spines. A common cause is a rabbit trying to get away from a loud noise in public when their owners “took them for a walk” on a leash or in a harness. The animal twists against it in fear and the spine is broken
- Ask yourself: Is taking your rabbit for a walk in public about you getting attention because you are walking your rabbit on a leash? Or, is it about the animal getting to spring, jump and play?
- Hint: Leashes restrain rabbits, so they cannot safely sprint, jump or freely exercise when they are leashed
- Alternate Safety Suggestion: Buy pet fencing a section off an area (rabbit run) for outdoor playtime or, if no quiet/safe outdoor space is available…build temporary runs inside your home
- Rabbits are prey animals and are fearful in noisy, busy or crowded environments. They can hear noises that you cannot. The loud noises you do hear is greatly amplified for them. Their baseline is stress, so it is important to avoid:
- busy parks where other people or animals are present
- city sidewalks, malls and all other crowded/noisy places
- any area where unfamiliar animals are also present
- Do not allow other animals to play in the same area as the rabbit if they have not been properly bonded
- Be mindful of loud, barking dogs. Contrary to what some people still believe, rabbits can (and have) die spontaneously in response to sudden, loud/scary noises such as barking dogs. Rabbits can literally be scared to death
- Closely supervise your rabbit at all times
- Helps avoid ingestion of toxic plants
- Keeps predators (birds, et cetera) away from your rabbit
- Ensures he/she cannot dig under fence or escape the yard
This Happy Rabbit Tip is not all-inclusive. It has been written as a quick overview of this topic. A great deal of information exists about rabbits and outdoor exercise time and related safety considerations. Also, it is important to research indoor playtime and rabbit-proofing your house if you have no outdoor space available.
For more information on this and other important rabbit topics, get a copy of Jana Brock’s paperback book, “Bunny Conversations – The Entertaining Dialogue of Pet Rabbits” (available on Amazon by CLICKING HERE). This $9 paperback book is well-researched and is easy to read. It is very entertaining and also has been written with new and experienced rabbit owners in mind.
Bunny Conversations book sale proceeds (when you buy the $9 paperback) go directly toward supporting rescue, rehabilitation and care costs for rescued animals. Your purchase will help rabbits in need.
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