Is it safe to introduce a house rabbit to living outdoors? If so, how can I ensure this transition is as calm as possible for my rabbit?
Sam says: Introducing indoor rabbits to the outside is incredibly beneficial to them if you have your own garden to use. As your rabbit is currently living indoors, it would be best to wait until the spring when the weather is warmer, as the temperature difference between outdoors and indoors can be quite vast during winter. Indoor rabbits won’t have developed a thick winter coat like those rabbits that are kept outdoors for the whole year.
In spring, you can move your rabbit into their outdoor set up. Ensure the hutch/shed and run are well built, secure and completely predator-proof. You can then place lots of hiding spaces in there for your rabbit to use. As they are a prey species, it is important for them to have multiple hiding spaces so that they have somewhere nearby to bolt to if they get scared. It will also help in them feeling less exposed to any potential threats.
You should also place enrichment items that your rabbit already uses in the run, as they will be able to smell their scent and it will help them settle. A variety of enrichment items for them to explore and interact with will encourage your rabbit to make full use of the space available to them.
Being a highly sociable species, rabbits really benefit from the companionship of other rabbits. A neutered friend of the opposite sex will also help your rabbit to feel more confident in a different environment, as well as making them feel safe and secure.
Samantha Ryan — Welcome Centre Team Leader — Small and Field Animals at Wood Green, The Animals Charity.