BINKYBUNNY FORUMS > HOUSE RABBIT Q & A > Is Outdoor Playtime Essential?
Last Post by lola_bunny_21 at 9/26/2012 12:30 AM (18 Replies)
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User is Offline scarletts_web
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8/23/2012 6:08 AM

Before I adopted a friend for Billy from a bunny organization in my city (Houston), I had been searching around on the internet for different rabbit rescues. I found one in North Texas which has the following statements on the site (I hope it's okay to quote): 

"We encourage you to house your rabbit indoors and provide an area outdoors where your rabbit can have supervised playtime – this is essential to their health. Rabbits should be given outside playtime to help with absorption of essential vitamins, and to give them fresh, natural foods (your grass and weeds) to munch on.  While outside they will file down their nails and teeth naturally just doing what bunnies do, which means they will have fewer problems with excessively long nails or overgrown teeth."

Also, it was a while ago so I don't quite remember, but there were a few adoptable rabbits listed on Petfinder that stated: "Will only adopt to homes that houses rabbits indoors and provides outdoor playtime - this is essential for rabbits." 

So is outdoor playtime really essential to a bunny's health? If so, am I making my rabbits less healthy by not providing/being able to provide outdoor playtime right now? Does opening the blinds on a window help a little with getting sun/vitamin absorption? What about all of the other things then? I will appreciate any feedback.

User is Offline Roberta
Wanneroo, Western Australia
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8/23/2012 6:16 AM
There is a school of thought that bunnies kept strictly indoors miss out on Vit D. However a balanced diet and good indoor playtime seems to debate this school of thought. My buns are in the sunroom and have time to bask in the sunlight that comes through the open windows in the afternoon. In their new bunny room I am planning on a series of shelves running up to the window so they can bask as the choose. Personally I think the pros outweigh the cons. You have to look at where you live and what threats are in the general environment. Trust me, here, indoors is the safer option.

User is Offline Sarita
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8/23/2012 6:30 AM

Hopefully this link from North Texas Rabbit Sanctuary will work:


User is Offline LittlePuffyTail
New Brunswick, Canada
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8/23/2012 8:09 AM
I consider myself a very good rabbit Mom and my rabbits don't go outside. I tried setting up an X-pen this summer on the grass and I brought Olivia out. She was terrified.

I don't have anything against providing supervised, contained (fenced or X-pen) outside time if your rabbit enjoys it as long as there is no health threats like Myxo or dogs in your area.

I think bunnies should be housed in an area where there is natural light for them to enjoy. My rabbit room has a large window and they get to enjoy sunlight and fresh air during the day.
Proud to be a Bunny Hugger and a voice for the voiceless

User is Offline TH004
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8/23/2012 8:12 AM
I don't think it is necessary to take them outside at all. My first buns loved it when she was younger. As she got older, she wasn't a fan, so I never took her out. My buns now likes it, but he has only gone out a handful of times over the past two years (I'm really picky on the temperature and I want to have two people watching him).

The part about them eating grass and weeds-- I can't imagine that would be that good for rabbits. What about chemicals on the yard (if it isn't your private yard that you care for)? I think the best natural foods are organic veggies Though my rabbit has definitely had a few bites while outside, he doesn't eat the yard. He knows there are better things waiting for him in his veggie bowl.

I can't imagine someone looking for a responsible rabbit owner saying outside time is required. I'd be worried the buns wasn't being properly supervised, whether other animals can get him/her, etc.

User is Offline Monkeybun
Hillsboro, Oregon
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8/23/2012 10:29 AM
None of my rabbits get outdoor playtime. It's just too dangerous in my opinion. But, they do get plenty of fresh air and sunlight, as we have plenty of windows that open up So no shortage of that for them.

Moosie would be a very unhappy boy outside, he's my little weenie man. Scared of everything

User is Offline Elrohwen
Hudson Valley, NY
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8/23/2012 10:31 AM
I don't think it's necessary. I've taken my pair out a couple of times and each time they were so nervous that it wasn't fun for them at all. We also have a ton of ticks and I don't trust that they aren't hiding in the lawn (even though they're typically not found in open areas like lawns).

There are risks in going outside and I think it can be a fun experience for rabbits who enjoy it (if it's done safely), but it's not necessary for their health or well being.
- Elrohwen

User is Offline LoveChaCha
Rabbit Warren
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8/23/2012 10:47 AM
I tried taking my Chacha bun outside and she hated it. She wanted nothing to do with nature and the sounds really freaked her out! She has run of the apartment and the curtains stay open in the living room 24/7 so that she can sun bathe.. which she does quite a bit

User is Offline tobyluv
South Carolina
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8/23/2012 11:31 AM
I think it's dangerous to take rabbits outside. There are predators that can come out of nowhere. I know of more than one instance where a rabbit was attacked by a predator even though there was a person nearby watching them. In my area of the country, we have trouble with fire ants. Mounds pop up all over the lawn, and you can just be walking through the lawn, not close to a mound, and get stung by traveling ants. There are also fleas, ticks, flies, etc. to contend with outdoors. There are plants that could be poisonous and there is the possibility that other animals have used the bathroom where your rabbit might be grazing, then they can wind up with worms. There could be a sudden sound or animal that so frightens a rabbit that it hurts itself.

My rabbits have the run of the house, so they get plenty of exercise and in nice weather, they spend a good deal of time on my screen porch (which has protective screening) so they get a lot of fresh air. The porch is on the shady side of the house, but they do get some morning sun. And they can get sun in the house if they choose to.

I think it's far safer for rabbits inside. It surprises me that rescues would recommend outdoor time for rabbits.

User is Offline Cristina
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8/23/2012 12:46 PM
Scarletts Web- Did you get your bun from Bunny Buddies? I live about an hr south of houston and have been wanting to check out their adoption days. I do take my bun out on a harness and leash, although there is a lot of controversy on that here on BB. So fair warning. I was taking my Toby out every day, and he adored it. But I made sure to wait until around 7 in the evening when it was a little cooler. A lot of people suggest setting up a pen outside for play time instead of a harness and leash. I did that for my first bun, but she was a big time jumper and escaped. It gave me frights to see her running all over our 2 acres and me frantically trying to catch her before a pedator got her. After 2 play pen tries, and 2 escapes on her part, I stopped. Which is why I use a harness and leash on my Toby. He doesn't have problems with it, and absolutely loves it. But you have to be very very careful if you do that! They can easily get spooked and break their legs and get really injured. So I suggest if you do decide to go that route, that you know your bunny well. Make sure it's a very chill bun that does not spook easily and for sure wait until the evening when he won't melt in the Texas heat!

User is Offline scarletts_web
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8/23/2012 1:59 PM
Thank you all for the feedback. I feel much better now that I know my bunnies are not missing out on something that is vital to their health. Sarita, the link did work and made me feel very relieved. The NTRS was also a site I looked into before adopting the second bunny (I have 2nd cousins in Dallas), but I had not seen that particular page. Of course, I would never take my rabbits outside for even two minutes unless I knew they were 100% safe with me. I am extremely careful with them; my brother always says I treat them like they are babies or something. Well, they are. I did get a jacket/harness designed for rabbits, but my Billy will not have anything to do with it and I would never try to force it on him so it just sits there unused. Besides, Billy is an escape artist who is sneaky and finds ways to escape everything and I would be too scared of him escaping. I have thought of the x-pen idea also, but I just don't want to risk fleas or small creatures that I may not even be able to see. Maybe someday I can think of a good solution if needed, but for now I am just glad to know that outdoor playtime is not essential to their health or well-being. We have screened windows and I leave the blinds open, but if I actually open the window to let in fresh air; my brother complains that the AC bill is going to shoot up. So I don't know what to do about that because he does have a point. Anyway, I am surprised that the rabbit rescue had those statements on their website because I'm sure it would confuse many people, especially those who are looking to adopt their very first rabbit.

Cristina, yes that is where I got my second bunny from and they are a terrific organization. I cannot even begin to describe how great they are. They helped with so many things and my second bunny's foster mom still keeps in touch with me and takes time to ask how everything is going with the bunnies, reply to my millions of questions etc. They really go above and beyond what is expected.

User is Offline Kokaneeandkahlua
Edmonton, Alberta; Canada
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8/24/2012 4:06 PM
I think any broad generalizing statements taken to extreme will be false.

Ex.take your bunny outside for vitamins-> For one, they get the vitamins through diet, and outside can be dangerous. Further to say they need natural food, is silly as they get that, and you could have noxious weeds-bunnies don't know how to avoid those. Also pesticides, herbicides, animals etc.-all dangerous.
ex. Don't ever take your bunny outside-> there could be a very safe area set up for your bunny to enjoy and they could be the type of bunny who enjoys outside.

Do you have a completely enclosed, safe outdoor run for your bunny (roof and all)-never use chemicals on your lawn, know all the plants in your lawn (none are poisonous), and you will supervise and not use a leash? Yes that's pretty safe.
Do they absolutely require outdoor time? no, that's pretty silly to think. But they may love looking out a window.

Look at your situation and make the best informed decision taking into account all the risks and benefits. in general, it's not very safe to be outdoors. Also they don't need it. So think hard before attempting.

User is Offline BB
San Francisco Bay Area
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8/24/2012 9:01 PM
I ditto KK. Though currently I feel there is not a good outdoor run for my bunnies because fleas are nutty this year and the fleas seem to be somewhat immune to advantage, I do wish for a day where we have a place where we can build a safe outdoor run where my bunnies and I can enjoy the outdoors together. In the habitats gallery we have a section "Safe Outdoor Runs" for safe outdoor run examples, and though I am extra careful about what its added there, (as there is currently only one, and I hope to expand it.)

I have had bunnies that loved playing outside while others seemed tortured by it. So there are all kinds of different variables in making the decision. But I agree that is not necessary. Some pellets have vitamin d3 which is supposed to be the vitamin the body makes from sunlight, and with all of the fresh greens you can give your bunny, they are not missing out just because they are not nibbling on grass.

With that said, even with my indoor only situation, I have always tried to give access to windows that allow sun and fresh air to be enjoyed by my bunnies. In the bunny room, we built a lounge area where Vivian has to go up a ramp to enjoy the window. Even Jack (rip),who wasn't thrilled to be outside enjoyed lounging by the window. So if it is at all possible, I would definitely encourage that just because of how much my bunnies seem to enjoy it.

User is Offline Nicolene
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8/29/2012 11:13 AM
I don't think it's essential. That being said, if you can and your bun loves it, then go for it.

My biggest problem with taking my rabbits out is that they don't want to go back in. We used to put a pen on our untreated back lawn, put some of those Costco boxes in and a bowl of water. We'd cover the top with a white sheet and clips. And they would spend hours out there while we did our gardening or bbq or swim. We never left them out unsupervised. They LOVED it. They would run in circles like crazy and much on grass like little cows.

We just pulled the lawn out and we're putting a raised vegetable garden in. We're adding one long bed that will have grasses, lettuces and other fun bunny things. It will be enclosed (frame and wire) on all sides with places to hide/nap. It's going to be awesome. They are going to love it. They will still be supervised, it won't be their outdoor home or anything, just an outdoor playground. And I can watch them do their thing while I tend to my new garden, and sneak them a mint leaf or two.

User is Offline Nicolene
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8/29/2012 11:21 AM
And of course I mean "go for it" in the safest/thought out way possible..

User is Offline luvmyhunybuny
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8/29/2012 10:04 PM
I am pretty sure the rescue you are quoting is one I volunteered for. All I will say is the bunnies at this rescue are housed in an open enviroment in a back yard, so not surprised they think outdoor is consider "essential". I could go on and on but I will refrain.

That being said, I do not believe (and neither does my vet) that outdoor time is essential. As a matter of fact my bunnies, except for one (who happened to live the first 5 months of his life in a nasty outdoor hutch) hate being outdoors. They get freaked out by the slightest noises and run and hide. It is not fun for them. It is also way too hot here to even think about outdoor time for at least 4 months out of the year. I choose to keep them safe, indoors and I make sure to open the blinds every day and allow the sun to shine in.

User is Offline Theresa
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8/30/2012 1:07 AM
I have had Roscoe out in a pen a couple of times - the first time he loved it, I sat right by him the entire time. The 2nd time, I had to walk about 10 feet away to help hubby with something for about 10 mins, and he was terrified. Will have to try again later.

Nicolene, that sounds like a divine bunny getaway! My husband said he would eventually build something for me similar to the safe habitat in your "Safe Outdoor Runs" gallery.

User is Offline Kokaneeandkahlua
Edmonton, Alberta; Canada
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8/31/2012 6:15 PM
Ahhh luvmyhunybuny-that's interesting to have the inside info! That makes a lot of sense as to why they would say that.

Good to note, rescues may have good intentions but it does not make them an authority on subjects-they may very well be well informed, they just as easily may not be-take all internet advice with a grain of salt. Just like that breeder site a while back that suggested adding drywall/sheetrock to their diet so they get calcium *bangs head on wall*

User is Offline lola_bunny_21
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9/26/2012 12:30 AM
my bunny loves going over to my parents house and running around in the large garden - especially with their little dog ! always supervised of course, but i generally feel mean if the weathers nice and i don't take her outside.

my old bunny used to live outside in a hutch, but loved coming inside and hopping around in my bedroom, as he loved charging around in the garden.

i think its personal preference at the end of the day - and obviously depends on what the bunny likes.

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