Raising a rabbit is quite an experience. Rabbits are incredibly cute little creatures but you need to be very careful about raising them properly. For starters, you should know that despite their size, rabbits are an absolute handful. If you don’t know how to care for one, you are going to have a pretty hard time.
That is one of the main reasons why you need to first understand how rabbits behave and the things that they do before you decide to bring one into your house. Rabbits are easy to love; they look incredibly cute and they will always be looking to participate in different things.
However, you should know that while rabbits are lovable and social animals, they require a considerable amount of care. If you haven’t kept one before, you should know that raising a rabbit is going to be tough. These animals, despite their tiny size, have a pretty long lifespan; they can live upwards of 10 years.
But many people are confused about whether to keep the rabbits indoors or outdoors. Before you decide to bring one in your house, here are a few important things that you should know about caring for a rabbit and, more importantly, whether wild and domestic rabbits can live together in harmony.
Keep it Indoors or Outdoors?
The first and most obvious question is whether to keep the rabbits indoors or outdoors. You might already know that rabbits have a pretty notorious reputation for digging in the ground. These animals can quickly dig their way deep into the ground and can always escape from a fenced area.
Therefore, it is important for every rabbit owner to understand that the best place to keep a rabbit is indoors. There are just too many variables outside that you can’t control and it’s really not a wise idea to keep the animal unattended outdoors. You need to understand that domesticated rabbits are actually quite different from their wild relatives.
For instance, you should know that the domesticated rabbits do not tolerate extreme temperatures as well as their wild counterparts. During the summer months, domesticated rabbits outside are likely to suffer from a heat stroke or other problems. Therefore, you need to make sure that you keep them indoors.
Even if you have a safe enclosure, you should understand that the rabbits are going to be exposed to predators. There have been plenty of cases where rabbits have been snatched up by the talons of large eagles and taken along, and that’s really not something that you want.
You also need to understand that the mere sound of a predator can cause immense stress to the rabbit and this could lead to serious health issues in the long run as well. That is one of the main reasons why you should consider keeping the rabbits indoors.
Putting them outdoors exposes them to a bunch of different variables. It’s just not something that you want to do.
Can the Two Live Together?
First and foremost, you need to understand that wild and domestic rabbits simply cannot live together. Wild rabbits are simply incapable of surviving in a closed environment.
They cannot be caged and they are going to try to do everything they can to escape. More importantly, you need to understand that these rabbits are used to digging.
The simple answer to whether domestic and wild rabbits can live together is no. The two are just unable to survive with each other because they have considerable differences. In most cases, these differences are quite significant to overcome. Furthermore, wild rabbits are not neutered or spayed.
Domestic rabbits, on the other hand, absolutely are. Not only does this make the rabbits healthier but it also reduces the risk of sickness by a considerable margin. Remember that pregnancies can cause a great deal of stress in your rabbit so it’s important for you to consider neutering or spaying the rabbit as soon as you can.
In order to understand why domesticated and wild rabbits cannot live with each other, you need to get a better understanding of the differences between the two. Let’s talk about them.
This one is fairly simple; domestic rabbits have much fewer survival abilities when compared with their wild counterparts. In fact, the differences are so huge that the two cannot get along with each other as well in most cases. It’s a commonly known fact that domesticated rabbits will not mate with wild rabbits.
If you leave a domesticated rabbit to fend off in the wild for itself, it won’t be long before the rabbit dies. They are exposed to a myriad of different hazards such as extreme temperatures and predators along with poisonous plants.
Needless to say, these rabbits are simply not able to make do in such an environment. They like the warmth and comfort of a house, and do well in those spaces.
Another thing that you should know about wild and domesticated rabbits is that their lifespan also varies. The typical lifespan of a wild rabbit is roughly around two years. However, because of the weather and the harsh conditions, such as the presence of predators, many wild rabbits simply don’t survive over a year.
On the other hand, a domesticated rabbit is able to survive for around 12 years if all of its needs are met and the rabbit is cared for. As long as you keep the rabbit housed indoors and provide it with a stress-free environment, you won’t have much to worry about its health and longevity.
The diet of wild and domesticated rabbits is also incredibly different. In the wild, rabbits tend to eat different kinds of vegetables. For instance, they will also eat grass, clover, wildflowers, and virtually anything else. A considerable part of a wild rabbit’s day is spent simply foraging for food.
They try to sneak into gardener’s fields and snack on their crops. On the other hand, domestic rabbits have very particular requirements for food. They will usually eat kibble or fresh grass. Orchard grass and timothy hay are both popular choices, and rabbits usually like to munch on them throughout the course of the day.
Furthermore, they also require 24/7 access to fresh water. To make sure that their health doesn’t deteriorate, these rabbits also need high-quality pellets and fresh grass.
There are considerable differences in the behavior of a wild rabbit and a domesticated one. The obvious one is that the former likes to dig a lot. Wild rabbits like to burrow all the way into the ground and they love living there. This keeps them safe from predators and other wild animals; more importantly, it protects them from the harsh weather.
On the other hand, domestic rabbits don’t really have the inclination of burrowing deep into the ground. Yes, they will dig into the ground and look for safety in dark places but they aren’t going to cause much of an issue.
In order to ensure that your pet has a safe and sound place to relax, you should put cardboard boxes in the house. Make sure that there are holes for getting in and out, and that’s all.
Remember that despite the fact that the two are vastly different, there are a few similarities. They are both prey animals so they often get scared at the sound of loud noises or sudden movements.
Therefore, you might have to tread carefully around a domestic rabbit. But with the passage of time, you will be able to develop a bond with your rabbit, and it will actually start loving you quite a bit!
Cage or Let Them Roam Free?
Now, if you are going to bring a domestic rabbit in your house, you will have to make a few decisions. First of all, are you going to let the animal roam free or are you going to cage it?
If you are going to go with the former choice, you will have to make sure that everything in the house is safe for rabbits.
You might be surprised at just how much trouble a little rabbit can cause around the house. One thing that you should know about these animals is that they like to chew. They are going to chew through electrical wires and cords, and they aren’t going to think twice before going through anything they like.
If a rabbit chews through a plugged-in cord, it could cause a serious injury and may lead to death. Furthermore, if you leave poisonous or harmful objects out in the open, there’s also a pretty strong chance that the rabbit will injure itself. Make sure that all cabinets are closed and the rabbit has no space to get into tiny crevices.
On the other hand, if you are going to keep the rabbit in a cage, it is important for you to make sure that the cage is not too restrictive for the animal. You need to buy a spacious cage that has enough space for the animal to roam around in. At the very least, you should go for a cage that is around five times bigger than the size of the rabbit.
The height of the cage should be tall enough to allow the rabbit to stand up on its hind legs without ever bumping its head and it should be able to stretch freely in the cage as well. Another thing that you need to know is that the feet of rabbits do not have any protective padding like cats and dogs.
Therefore, if the floor of the cage has a wire mesh, it could cause harm. You need to put a layer of cardboard or any other soft material to make it easy for the animal to walk freely. You will also want to place a small cardboard box inside the cage because these bunnies really like to hide inside and just isolate themselves when they want to sleep.
If you are going to keep the animal in a cage, you also need to make sure that you let it out for several hours in the day so that it is capable of exercising and running around.
These animals are quite curious and they like to run around their surroundings. This is also an excellent time for you to play and socialize with the rabbit, and it’s going to help create a stronger bond between the two of you.
Rabbits are very similar to cats in the sense that they can easily learn to use the litter box. It doesn’t require a lot of effort to teach a rabbit how to use the litter box and it’s going to make the space so much cleaner for you. Make sure that you keep an eye out for signs that the rabbit is about to go.
Usually, the rabbit will start pawing the ground and will try to dig on the solid surface before it decides to defecate. You will want to make sure that you carefully observe the animal’s behavior and as soon as it is about to defecate, you should pick it up and place it in the litter box.
Naturally, these animals like to go on soft ground so it’s not going to be a problem. If you leave the rabbit outside its cage and it is allowed to roam around the house without any restrictions, you might want to consider placing multiple litter boxes throughout the house.
Remember that you should take the rabbit to a vet at least once in every three months and keep a check on the animal’s health. Not only that, but you also have to make sure that you provide the rabbit with good-quality food.
Your vet will be able to recommend suitable options that you can feed your animal. Good-quality pellets will greatly improve the animal’s health.
These are just a few things that you should know about domesticated and wild rabbits and how they live!
I have a bachelor’s degree in Film/Video/Media Studies, as well as an associates degree in Communications. I began producing videos and musical recordings nearly 15 years ago. I am a guitarist and bassist in Southwest MI and have been in a few different bands since 2009, and in 2012 I began building custom guitars and basses in my home workshop as well. When I’m home, I love spending time with my three pets (a dog, cat, and snake) and gardening in my backyard. I also like photographing wild birds, especially birds of prey.