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The Care of Outdoor Rabbits

NOTE: These instructions are for outdoor rabbits not indoor.

Are they right for you?
When you decide to get rabbits, you must first consider some things - Where will you house them? Do you have the time? Have you considered that rabbits can live up to 10 years? If you answer "yes" to all these questions then you can continue.


Getting started.
First you must research the care of rabbits. You cannot simply read one article and believe you know everything you need to know. You must research the topic extensively. Once you have done that you should research each breed, as different breeds require different care. For example, Dutch rabbits require less care and grooming then an Angora rabbit. So make sure you know what breed of rabbit you want.
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A Dutch rabbit (left) and Angora rabbit (right), as you can tell, Angoras require a lot more time and care.


Housing.
When housing your rabbit you cannot go half way. You must make sure your rabbit has enough room to bolt, binky, and hide. I keep my small breed rabbits in a minimum of 32 square feet per two rabbits. Medium to large breeds should get at least 64 square feet per two rabbits. And ALL RABBITS NEED AN ATTACHED HUTCH, this is ABSOLUTELY necessary for shelter from bad weather, and because rabbits can be stressed out easily. For example, if a predator (a raccoon, coyote, owl, etc...) were to come to the cage and the rabbit had nowhere to hide, the rabbit would be more likely to die from fear, rather than from the predator. I give my rabbits 2 square feet of hutch per one to two rabbits. You must also keep their cage clean. I have a movable cage that attaches to another, so when their cage gets dirty, all I have to do is pull it 4 or 5 feet. Also, you must buy/build your cage before you get your rabbit.
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This is not a good sized hutch, as you can tell the rabbit does not have enough room to run and jump.

Purchase.
Once you have researched your breed and obtained your cage, it is time to get your rabbit. First, you want to find a breeder. If you are planning on breeding your rabbits in the future, you want to make sure that you buy from a reputable breeder. If not, you can buy from almost anybody. When you find a breeder, ask to see the rabbits. Check them for signs of sickness - lethargy, extremely soft belly, discharge from eyes or nose, etc... If you do see one or more rabbits that are sick, do not purchase there as rabbits are extremely good at hiding their sicknesses and others may have caught the sickness, and may just be hiding it. Once you find a breeder without any sick rabbits, you should look for the friendliest ones - unless you are buying babies as they can be tamed easily. You should always keep rabbits in pairs when housing outdoors (unless they are males as they will fight) so make sure you get at least two. Ask the breeder to sex them so you don't get two males or a male and a female.

Taming (if not already tamed).
Before you begin taming your rabbit(s), let them get used to their new home for one or two days. After you let them get used to their new home, you can begin to tame them. If they are skittish, approach the cage slowly and offer them treats though the wire, if not, skip to the next part.
After a while of them taking treats from you, slowly enter the cage and give them treats as you pet them and talk to them. Slowly start petting them under their belly while still feeding them. Gently pick them up and hold them. If they struggle, do not put them down immediately as they will learn that if they fight, they will be put down. First calm them down so he or she is relaxed and then put them down. Bring them inside (if you can) and sit with them, offer them treats, pet them, talk to them, etc...

Feeding, watering and treats.

Make sure that your rabbits have food, hay and water at ALL times.
Some treats you can give them are apple, strawberry, blueberry, watermelon and occasionally banana and carrots. And there are many more that are not listed here.
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Here is a rabbit nibbling on a carrot.

Extreme temperatures.
Heat.
In the Summer, if it gets too hot, your rabbit(s) could over heat and die. It is essential that when the temperature exceeds about 85 to 90 degrees, you must have some way to cool them down. You could put a frozen water bottle in the hutch for them to lean on, or put a fan in the hutch, and ALWAYS make sure they have a source of cool water.
Cold.
In the winter, it doesn't typically get to cold for rabbits where I am (NC). Rabbits can survive sub-zero temperatures over night as long as they are with at least one other rabbit. But of course, you should never leave them outside at those temps. I would bring them in when the temperature starts to dip into the single digits.


You can see here, that these babies don't mind the cold at all!

Additional notes.
  • If you notice your rabbit showing signs of illness, get him/her to the vet ASAP
  • Remember, the bigger the cage, the better and happier your rabbit(s) will be.
  • Male rabbits typically live about 8 to 10 years and females live about 5 to 6, but do sometimes live 10 years.
  • If you see your rabbit eating his or her poop, don't be alarmed, they are simply eating their cecotropes.

Rabbits are friendly, intelligent, and they are great pets. Have fun with your little bundles of joy!
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