Can houserabbits play in the garden?

We are sometimes asked about letting houserabbits play in the garden, especially in cold or wet weather.

Our Specialist Veterinary Adviser Dr Richard Saunders has provided this advice

General: I would say that all rabbits outside in runs should have a hide box area with at least 2 exits, to retreat into if feeling insecure, as well as for protection from extremes of cold or wind.

Low temperatures: assuming they are healthy rabbits in social groups or pairings, with no significant areas of missing fur etc, if they are able to move around freely and are protected from rain and wind, they should be OK in runs down to about 5C. Below that, access to a well insulated indoor area, whether attached to or within the run, or both, must be provided. Rabbits in poor body condition, or with missing fur, or sole animals, must be provided with shelter before temperatures get down to 5C.

High temperatures: OK, assuming the rabbits are not obese, and do not have respiratory disease, and have shade and plenty of places to keep cool.”

Gearing up for winter

It’s welfare wednesday – and this week we want your input please. Snow is forecast this month, so we hope everyone with outdoor bunnies is thinking about keeping them warm and dry, and still allowing them to exercise. Bedding areas should be kept clean and dry, and filled with straw (because it is warmer than hay). Dont forget to add a tarpaulin to your exercise run to offer shelter from the rain and snow, and this will allow the rabbits to have their regular exercise. Snuggle safe pads are great for keeping rabbits warm over night, and dont forget to keep a spare water bottle so that if one freezes you can replace it with another. Hutches can be brought into empty garden sheds, and the rabbits can have the run of the shed too. Ofcourse, the best way of keeping rabbits warm over the winter is to keep them in pairs so that they can snuggle together. Have you got any tips you would like to share? We will pick the best ones and add them to the website.