When you decided to adopt a dog or a cat, I bet the first thing that came to your mind wasn’t getting them a hutch or a cage. Because, with cats and dogs, most of us want to let them roam around the house without having to worry about anything.
Now, what makes a rabbit different?
Maybe because they will make a mess in the house or end up eating things that can affect them. But did you know you could safely free roam a rabbit?
It’s becoming increasingly popular, and you might be tempted to give it a try once you know all about its health benefits, how beneficial it is to yourself, and finally, steps to take to prevent it from chewing up your things.
Sounds good enough? So, can you let a rabbit roam the house?
What does it mean to “free roam” a rabbit?
Free roaming means a rabbit has access to your home. They’re allowed to explore, hop around, and do whatever they want to do without limits or barriers placed on their movements.
This makes your rabbit happy and healthy. It’s also safe to say that no rabbit is ever content in a hutch, no matter how spacious it may be. So, in a few words, a free-roam rabbit is allowed to move around in areas of the house where they’re permitted to be.
Let’s also get this right, just because free roaming is good doesn’t mean your rabbit needs to have access to the entire house. There are safe and unsafe places in the house, and you have to know where to restrict them from going to and the best places where they can have all the fun they want.
Can you let a rabbit roam the house?
Can you let your rabbit roam the house? Should you?
Allowing a rabbit to free-roam is definitely up to you. As long as your house is rabbit proofed, then it’s safe for your pet to stay, but first, let’s discuss the health benefits of free-roaming rabbits.
What are the health benefits of free-roaming rabbits?
One of the greatest concerns of pet owners is whether something is safe and healthy, and that’s exactly what free roaming aims to do for your rabbit. I understand keeping your rabbit in a hutch keeps them safely away from predators, but there are a lot of benefits to allowing a rabbit to roam free.
- Exercise: Exercise is extremely important to a rabbit as they tend to eat too much when bored, which can lead to an obese rabbit. But if your rabbit has that space and freedom to move around, then she’s constantly expanding her energy and that keeps her active.
If you weren’t considering free roaming before, then this should be your top reason because exercising your bunny makes her healthy, and a healthy pet is a happy one.
- It improves their mental health: Rabbits are social animals who thrive on social interaction with their companions and the environment.
A rabbit who stays in the cage might get bored or depressed, but when you offer them a chance to be free, it greatly improves their mental health because that means nothing is standing in their way from being happy and from truly expressing themselves.
- Improves your relationship with your pet: There’s something great about having access to your pet whenever you want to, and this also makes your rabbit feel close to the family. It makes her feel like she’s a part of something special.
If you’ve been looking for ways to bond with your pet and build trust, then letting them out of their hutch is usually one of the best ways to go about it.
- It prevents arthritis. Rabbits are known to develop arthritis in later years, and you might not be able to notice the signs earlier on because your bunny might be hiding the pain from you. However, this can be prevented if she keeps exercising.
- It prevents bladder stones. Bladder stones are contractions found in the urinary bladder. This is caused by too much calcium or lack of water and while in some cases, these stones are passed out with their droppings if you notice any, visit the vet, but sometimes they could get stuck, which makes urination difficult for a rabbit.
With an active rabbit, this can be reduced because, when exhausted, your rabbit has the urge to drink a lot of water and will frequently urinate, thus preventing stones in the bladder. But a caged rabbit might not drink water frequently enough, and that could lead to health problems.
Now that we’ve gotten that out of the way, what are the steps you need to take before bringing a rabbit into your home?
Free roaming rabbits in 7 stages
To avoid the process becoming exhausting because while rabbits are great animals, they are quite destructive.
How do we avoid that as pet parents?
- Get to know your bunny. How close are you to your bunny? If you two are very close, then, what kind of personality does she have? What does she naturally go for whenever you bring her into your house?
You have to know these and ask yourself more questions. Think outside the box because if you don’t know her, then you might not be able to get the next step right. Knowing more about your bunny would also help you decide if it’s worth bringing her into your home, or maybe if that’s just not the next step for the both of you.
Remember that as much as there are benefits to this, sometimes it’s much better to leave a rabbit in their spacious hutch if you aren’t ready yet. But, all you need here is to know what kind of rabbit you have.
- Rabbit Proof your house. So, you finally bought or adopted a bunny, and it’s part of the family. Now you have to prevent your rabbit from destroying things in the house.
That part about knowing your bunny? Use it to your advantage. Keep your houseplants away from places your rabbits will be able to get to because they are herbivores and will eat any plants in sight when hungry.
Keep your shoes where they’re meant to be and any important or dangerous items away to ensure your rabbit doesn’t get to them. This also makes you more organized and put together.
Let’s get to other things your rabbit might eat that are harmful to their health:
- Wires: Your rabbit might think this is a plant root, but to protect her from electrocution or a fire outbreak, prevent your rabbit from having access to any wires in the house.
How do you do that? Get wire tubing to conceal the real wires. This is usually much thicker and your rabbit might have little to no interest in this.
- Carpets: If you have a female rabbit, she could go for your carpets, and that’s harmful to her stomach. What you can do here is get plastic mats to cover up areas you feel she digs into.
- Fencing: Consider getting a baby gate and then installing it in places where you don’t want your rabbit to be. For instance: if you don’t want them eating up your furniture legs, place this around it so that area stays off limits to your rabbit.
This all boils down to knowing what kind of rabbit you have because your rabbit can’t attack everything in the house, but once you know who you’re dealing with, you can be able to effectively rabbit-proof the house for their safety.
- Litter box training. Litter training your rabbit before bringing them into the house will save you a lot of stress. Luckily, rabbits are clean animals, and it’s not too difficult to train them.
If you’re very observant, then you may have noticed that rabbits pick a spot and leave their droppings or pee there, so get a litter box, place it in that exact area, and shove their droppings into the box. Do this a few times and they will understand where they need to do their business and how things should be done.
You also have to realize that you will make a lot of mistakes, but don’t be so hard on yourself or your rabbit.
- Get them spayed and neutered. We’ve discussed the health benefits of getting your rabbit neutered.
This helps prevent aggressive behaviors and stops them from spraying, which can easily become a nuisance as a rabbit’s urine contains ammonia, and that could ruin a lot of things in your house, so get your rabbit spayed before bringing them into the house.
- Start slow. Do not overwhelm your rabbit by suddenly leaving the whole house for them to roam around in.
To get them started with the new normal, introduce your rabbit to a room to feel comfortable with what’s about to happen, then take them back to their hutch after a few hours. Keep rotating this and once they get used to having a room to themselves, leaving them in the house wouldn’t be a problem.
- Introduce toys to reduce boredom. Eventually, your rabbit will get bored from roaming around the house, so get them some toys to toss around and play with. Create new ways to make things interesting for them and join them in the fun once in a while to make your bunny feel less lonely and happy.
- Give them time and space to get used to things. Your rabbit might make mistakes, especially with her litter training. She might eat up important things you didn’t know she could get to, but giving your bunny time matters a lot.
Don’t expect things to work out fine at the initial stages, because it might not, but just keep in mind that you’re doing this to get closer to your bun, and to also create a safety net for her. Take it easy with yourself and your bunny and things will eventually work out.
How often should you let your rabbit out of its cage?
A rabbit isn’t always meant to be in a cage as it prevents them from being free, but do allow your rabbit to come out every day as this is important for her physical and mental health.
As with the physical, we’ve discussed that exercising is really important for a rabbit, and staying alone in a cage could make them lonely, bored, or depressed! Even with their toys, get them out every day to play and join them too, because they need it.
Can I let my rabbit free roam outside?
Free roaming outside is never safe for a rabbit for the following reasons. For one, predators. Rabbits are prey animals and are susceptible to being hunted by cats or dogs living around your home. Again, if you own one of these predators, never leave them alone with your rabbit.
You might think dogs are cute, but it’s all too soon when they start chasing a rabbit, and that creates fright in your bunny and builds distrust. Soon enough, your rabbit might stay in the comfort of her hutch, never coming out to play because it’s simply unsafe for her.
The bottom line is that unsupervised free roaming outside the house is often not advised. Keep your rabbit indoors because there, you can always monitor their movements.
Should I let my rabbit roam free at night?
Rabbits are crepuscular animals, which means they’re active in the early mornings to mid-mornings and also at dusk. Sometimes, your rabbit might be awake at night, but it’s not the best time to leave them all by themselves.
One, they could get to the wires in the house, stand on their hind legs to knock things off, and might do things you wouldn’t even think of, even when the house is rabbit proofed. Your rabbit might also get into places she’s been curious about, so it’s not safe to leave them at night.
Get them to sleep, and if your bunny is hyperactive, cover her hutch with a blanket. Make sure they’re exhausted in the evenings so getting them to bed becomes easy.
As a pet parent, you should always get your bunny to bed before going to sleep because leaving them alone at night is bad news.
Getting closer to your bunny and building trust with them becomes easier as you can bring them into the house while expecting to make a few mistakes, or even none if you’re good at it.
And if free roaming isn’t something you would like to do, for now, make sure your rabbit gets at least three to four hours out of her cage every day as it keeps her physically and mentally healthy, which is the most important thing of all.