Should My Pet Rabbit Spend Time Outdoors?
Many healthy pet rabbits live inside their whole lives, but recent studies suggest that exposure to some direct sunlight (unfiltered by a window) may be beneficial to the proper development of rabbits’ teeth and bones. Sunlight enables vitamin D in skin to be transformed into an active form that helps animals absorb calcium from their food. This means pet rabbits’ teeth and bones may benefit from sunlight exposure. There is no set rule or published study on how long rabbits need to be outside, but it’s probably safe to say that in warm enough weather, up to a few hours outside per day would be beneficial.
In weather-permitting climates, if pet rabbits go outside, they must be supervised at all times to protect them from predators, and to keep them from getting into trouble. Properly constructed rabbit and predator-proof runs, cages, screened-in porches and other such structures can be an ideal way for your rabbit to safely enjoy some time outdoors. When rabbits are outdoors, you must remember to provide them with adequate shade and water, so that they don’t overheat. Don’t allow rabbits to be exposed to any temperature extremes. They may eat grass (and will probably enjoy doing so!), as long as it is not treated with pesticides or any chemicals. The best way to avoid this — as well as the risk of your rabbit potentially consuming any parasites in lawn grass — is to grow your own in a small dish or container on a windowsill. If you do allow your pet rabbit outside, be sure to consult your veterinarian about appropriate flea prevention, as bunnies can get fleas.
While I’m not a fan of putting rabbits outside on the lawn for long periods of time — even in suburban settings, there are plenty of predators that could try to gain access to a cage or run — I think it is beneficial to let them out for short, supervised periods.
More on Vetstreet: