Inside or Out? Your rabbit’s pen should be inside, preferably in the family room or other place your family hangs out. Rabbits are very fragile creatures, so although they’ve historically been kept in hutches outside, we’ve found that they will live much longer if they are indoors. Rabbits can and do die of heart attacks, so even the strongest pen won’t protect your bunny from a predator if it scares him to death. Heat stroke is another common killer; pesticides and poisonous plants are lethal, as well. However, the best reason to bring your bunny inside is that a bunny kept in a hutch will be both bored and boring. Why bother? If you’re not going to make him part of the family, he’ll just become another chore.
Bunny Proofing: At first, you’ll want to keep your rabbit in his pen when you’re not home. Bunnies love to chew, so they need to be supervised when loose – at least until you know what to expect of yours. When you are home, however, you’ll want to have your bunny loose to interact with you, so you’ll need to “bunny-proof” any rooms to which he’ll have access. This means that all cords need to be hidden, moved, and/or protected from inquiring teeth. Anything within two feet of the ground is fair game, so expensive or fragile items need to be moved out of reach, as do all house plants. The floor must be kept clear of rubber bands, tacks, clips, or anything else that might hurt your rabbit if he eats it; remote control buttons have been known to disappear in seconds, so those need to be out of reach, too. Shoe laces, home work, books, you name it. We suggest moving Grandma’s antique rocking chair to a different room, too. Table and chair legs can be very tasty!
Play Time: When you’re home, you’ll want to let your bunny out to hop around and play. Rabbits are inquisitive, playful, and full of joy, and they will bring laughter and love into your home if you let them. Make your bunny part of the family by letting him out of his pen as much as possible. Another good reason to let him out whenever possible is that a happy rabbit is much less likely to be destructive, whereas a bored bunny will dig and chew on things just to pass the time, so it behooves you to keep him entertained.
Going Outside: If you enjoy spending time outside, you may want to bring your rabbit out with you. Many rabbits love to play in the back yard, but you’ll need to be sure that he can’t escape; that it’s not too hot; that he has shade and fresh water; that no predators are nearby; that he can’t munch on any poisonous plants or pesticides.
You may see rabbit harnesses and leashes for sale, and you may decide to get one. We don’t like them much, because it’s difficult to get on (you’ll probably get bitten), and once it’s on, you’re going to have to run around after your bunny – under bushes and dodging this way and that. It’s not easy. However, if this is the only way your rabbit can go outside safely, and he really loves to go outside, you might give it a try, because at least you’ll have control of him when necessary.