Are you considering BUYING A PET RABBIT to add to your family? If so, have you considered keeping free range rabbits? Rabbits that are free to roam and explore their surroundings, and not confined in a cage or enclosure. While this may seem like a risky choice, there are many benefits to this lifestyle for rabbits and their owners. However, a pet rabbit should only be free to roam safely in protected areas within your house and garden.
Free Range Rabbits the Environment
Keeping free range pet rabbits requires space and the more you can give them the happier they will be. But their environment must be rabbit safe, and outside space, predator and RABBIT PROOFED to keep them safe and secure. Difficult and expensive? No! Rabbit proofing and PREDATOR PROTECTION for my gardens cost less than setting up a minimum space hutch and run. While making my two-bedroom home rabbit safe cost less than night out and was surprisingly easy to complete.
Can you free range rabbits outside? Yes, by combining KEEPING RABBITS OUTSIDE, with a rabbit and predator proof garden. Then following the rules to keep them safe! However, keeping rabbits this way inhibits the human / rabbit interactions. Therefore, reducing the benefits gained by keeping free range rabbits as pets indoors.
free roaming pet rabbits indoors
Is it cruel to keep rabbits outside? Not if you maintain the minimum standards of space, housing and welfare. But anything less than the minimum standards is cruel! However, if you are already or intend keeping free roaming pet rabbits indoors. You are or will be halfway to keeping free range rabbits.
However, if you are KEEPING RABBITS INDOORS confined, you will need to let them free roam. The next step is to rabbit poof your garden, or part of it, to make sure your rabbit cannot escape. Protect any plants and shrubs the rabbits can reach and add predator proofing.
Then create areas of shade and shelter from rain, tunnels and hideaways, to give your rabbits a suitable secure playground. If the free range pet rabbit setup sounds like a lot of work, well that’s because it is. However, there is no rush to complete getting the garden ready. Because your rabbit needs to feel safe and settle into its new lifestyle. Your home will be its sanctuary, the place to bolt to if it feels threatened while outside.
But once you have a strong trusting bond and, a garden that is escape proof. Your rabbits can join you while you protect and supervise them and, try to complete the rest of the work. Believe me I have been there, and it’s fun! But you must take care not to injure your hairy hopping inspectors as they check the work. However, never leave rabbits without supervision in a garden that is not fully rabbit and predator proof!
The Rules for Keeping them Safe
On completion of the work to keep your rabbits safe, they can free roam between the home and garden. However, for safety their access must always be open while your free range rabbits are out in the garden. Because predator protection may stop them from getting in but, will not stop them upsetting free range rabbits by trying. Causing them to bolt to their safe place your home!
Not having access to their safe place will increase the stress caused by a threat, which could be fatal! The only place you can guarantee your rabbits safety is in your home without access to the garden. Or with a human present in the home when their access to the garden is open. Therefore, you should not give rabbits access to the garden at night, or when no one is at home!
My Experience keeping rabbits Free Range
My free range rabbits readily adapted to my routine and, me to their most active times during the day. They are most active in the morning and evening spending their afternoons quietly relaxing in my lounge. Babe and Bob access the garden from my lounge via the sliding patio door, that I leave open all day. As I’m home most of the time, they are free to roam until the door closes, around 9PM. But, when I need to go out, I close the door and open it on my return.
For the first 18 months I had no problems, only the pleasure of watching my rabbits enjoying their freedom. Babe and Bob have access to the front and back garden and the whole house. So, there are one hundred and two square metres to play in, and they use it all! Running, twisting, turning, and jumping, from one end to the other and back at full speed, often more than once. These displays of speed and agility are highly entertaining, but there is more.
Rabbits love to climb, and there are chairs, benches, and tables in the garden for me and my guests. But they give shelter and shade to my free range rabbits and, they sit on them more than I do! They also have one tunnel behind my garden stores and another under the raised rabbit hutch. The roof of which Babe loves sitting on, watching people walk past the garden. Simply doing all the things free range pet rabbit love to do! That they are not able to do within a minimum area.
While relaxing in the lounge one evening Bob bolted into the lounge, followed by Babe and a cat! Seeing me jump up from my chair, the cat turned tail and ran escaping over my predator proof fence. This had been very narrow escape for Babe, who I found in shock behind the waste bins in my kitchen. Had I not there it could have resulted in the death of one or both of my pets. Has this incident put me off keeping free range pet rabbits?
No, but it has made me realise there is no room for complacency when it comes to predator proofing. While driving home the fact that it can only be 100% effective while I’m at home. However, it did highlight a flaw in my rabbit proofing, I had used plastic spikes to secure my wooden fences. They should work by stopping cats and foxes gripping the fence to pull themselves over the top.
But obviously are not entirely effective. So, I spent two full days in the garden with Babe and Bob helping me improve the predator proofing. Which has worked, and the offending cat? Well after many failed attempts to get in has admitted defeat.
The benefits of free range pet rabbit keeping are, for the rabbits, the extra space to exercise promotes physical health. While the opportunity to explore, forage and play provides them with a more varied DIET and mental stimulation. Both of which lead to a longer, healthier and happier life. For you, they are so much easier to manage and bond with, leading to a closer trusting relationship with you. Free range rabbits are great entertainers and like to thank you for their lifestyle with a daily groom.
Why did I go to all that trouble just for a couple of rabbits? Because I wanted the companionship of happy, healthy pets that are part of the family. Keeping free range pet rabbits has given me far more than I thought possible from two pet rabbits. They are my almost constant companions throughout my days, and sleep on my bed every night. However, I did not decide they should have a free range lifestyle. They did!
Rabbits cannot communicate verbally, but like other animals their body language speaks volumes. So, all you need to do is open your eyes to listen to them! Rabbits are not as stupid or dumb as we may think. Hence, my rabbits know who’s in charge, THEY ARE!