Most people are aware that rabbits need space, and if you have a garden, it is beneficial for your rabbits to have time outside. There’s something so wonderful about seeing a rabbit charging around outside, and binkying and whilst some owners allow their rabbits time outside in a secured run, others allow them to run around the garden, but is it safe?
Rabbits can dig and can jump pretty high. If you wanted to let them free range around your garden, you would need to ensure there aren’t any holes or gaps under your fencing. Bunnies can squeeze through smaller gaps than you probably think they could. Not only that, but rabbits like to dig and can make holes pretty quickly! Ideally, you would need to bury your fencing underground to stop them digging out.
If your rabbit did get out the garden, they could get lost. A scared rabbit will bolt, which could mean it will run in any direction, including over a road. There is a risk of them hiding and getting stuck somewhere. Rabbits are quiet animals, so if you do go out looking for them, they won’t be able to make much noise to alert you to where they are. Being a prey species, they instinctively keep as quiet as possible to not alert any predators.
If you live in the country, most likely there will be lots of undergrowth near you, which rabbits will enjoy exploring. Again, they could get stuck or lost, and it would be really difficult to get them out safely.
They could even get lost in your garden as rabbits will naturally burrow. Some can dig tunnels surprisingly quickly, and if they were to dig under the shed, it would be difficult to get them out. Tunnels can cave in, causing injury and even death.
Without secure outside accommodation, rabbits are at risk from being taken by a predator. Even if you are standing in the garden with them, there have been cases where foxes have jumped over a 6ft fence and taken a rabbit with the owner standing a few feet away! Most people believe that foxes only come out at night, but this isn’t the case and they will come out in the daytime too. As houses are being built on the foxes natural habitat, they are forced to live in an urban environment with us and have learnt to scavenge for food. As they are so used to living in close proximity to humans, most foxes do not fear humans.
Foxes aren’t the only danger, as neighbouring dogs and cats can harm them, even if they didn’t do so on purpose. Rabbits can die of shock and even a playful puppy can scare a rabbit. Birds of prey are another threat and sightings of these birds are becoming more and more regular. Even if they are not strong enough to carry your rabbit away, their talons can seriously injure a rabbit, and the shock can kill them too.
Rabbits can be at risk of being taken, especially if they leave your garden. People may think they have been dumped and take them to a local vets or rescue, however, there are people out there who will take rabbits to bait their dogs.
Eating things they shouldn’t
There are lots of plants that are safe for rabbits, but there are lots that will harm them too. Do not assume your rabbit will know what is safe to eat and what isn’t. Some plants are poisonous, whilst others are toxic and eating them will harm your rabbit over time as the toxins build up. If they were to eat mowed grass, it can be dangerous as the cut grass will ferment in their bodies.
It’s not only plants that could hurt them, but other things around the garden could too, such as gardening tools, slug pellets, hosepipes and garden chemicals to name but a few. If you keep your rabbits as house rabbits, you will know that most like to test things with their mouths and this is no different when they are in the garden.
Open bodies of water can be dangerous, as rabbits are really curious, but poor swimmers. Ponds are dangerous as many have a sudden drop, much like wells and a bunny could get tangled in weeds and plants in the water. If you have a pond, make sure it is covered if your rabbits are out.
Rabbits can hurt themselves when free ranging in the garden. Really happy rabbits will binky and could crash into something or fall off from somewhere high when doing this. Rabbits are delicate animals, and falling in a certain way could cause fractures or broken bones. If unsupervised, the rabbit could be left in pain until you return and could lead to their death.
But I will watch them!
Even if you watch them, it doesn’t guarantee their safety. If you have two rabbits running round the garden and a fox hops over the fence, you will have to choose which rabbit you save as it’s unlikely you could save both as they will scatter in different directions if frightened. Even popping indoors quickly to make a cup of tea could be long enough for your rabbit to get into trouble.
Although rabbit’s need space, it’s much safer to allow them outside in a secure run. The run should have strong mesh and a lid. You can also add mesh around the bottom to stop them digging out or a fox digging in to keep them safe.
It’s always better to be safe than sorry!
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