Wednesday, January 7, 2009

A House Rabbit is a Happy Rabbit

Up until relatively recently, most pet rabbits were relegated to backyards to be housed in wooden hutches. Now, we've realized how much these intelligent, humorous, and sensitive creatures (and we) benefit from their indoor residencies.

Health and Safety
Healthwise, indoor rabbits aren't faced with the same worries as their outdoor counterparts. Outdoor hutch rabbits have to contend with a variety of parasites, flies, and infections, not to mention prey animals, such as raccoons, domestic dogs, etc. Even if a hutch is physically secure, it's not enough—countless rabbits have died from shock or panic-induced injuries brought on by the mere presence of an outdoor predator.

Alongside predators and parasites, the outdoor elements pose significant risks. Heatstroke is one of the most relevant hazards, and it should come as no surprise considering the rabbit's inability to sweat, their permanent fur outfits, and elevated basal body temperatures (at around 102 ºF*). Outdoor (and indoor) temperatures of 85 ºF and above can be seriously devastating for rabbits; even if provided with fans, ice bottles, etc., such high temperatures are unbearably uncomfortable at best and deadly at their worst.

While comparatively less serious, cold weather poses its own variety of complications. Pneumonia and hypothermia (if the rabbit gets wet) are significant risks; and temperatures below freezing can (obviously) freeze the drinking water and cause dangerous dehydration.

In addition to the above mentioned health risks faced by outdoor bunnies, indoor rabbits are more carefully observed by their owners. Since rabbit illness symptoms are very subtle, (as to not alert prey to any weaknesses) a close relationship and acute awareness are vital to spotting changes in health and seeking prompt medical attention.

Exercise and Interaction
It's notably more difficult to provide an outdoor bunny with ample exercise. Whereas indoor rabbits can be allowed to roam around a room while you go about everyday activities, giving an outdoor bunny exercise requires the added effort of setting up an exercise pen and providing your undivided attention, and therefore will likely be neglected during busy times or in unpleasant weather conditions. With less out-of-cage time comes decreased mental stimulation and human interaction and increased boredom, destruction, and depression.

And with less interactive bonding time, you miss the opportunity to develop a profound and rewarding friendship. You also miss out the oftentimes hilarious and entertaining show that is a house rabbit: flying leaps, ninja kicks, head twitches, and over-flops!

Sadly, outdoor rabbits tend to get thought of as objects in the backyard, instead of sentient beings with individual personalities and extensive emotional lives. Outdoor rabbits are often neglected and as a consequence revert to a wild-like state; their owners never realize the rabbit's capacity for love, friendship, and humor.

All in all, indoor rabbits live happier, healthier and longer lives. If you currently own an outdoor rabbit, strongly consider bringing her indoors. A former hutch rabbit can just as easily be trained to use a litterbox as any other rabbit. You'll be surprised at how well an indoor rabbit complements your life. A house rabbit makes for a happy rabbit, and a happy owner too!

Trixie happily considers the advantages of being a cozy,
indoor house rabbit.
(Photo courtesy of Linda M. in San Jose, CA.)

* Dawson, Bronwyn, DVM. "Dealing With Medical Emergencies."
House Rabbit Society.


Anonymous said...

My rabbit loves being in doors with my other pets. He is an amazing creature that I learn from everyday:)

Anonymous said...

flying leaps, ninja kicks, head twitches, and over-flops... we get these all from our house bunny Mr Fudgington. He is so happy.

cheap viagra said...

Rabbits love to jump for everywhere it is like if you have a kid in your house. that's why I love rabbits because they are so happy.

IggyPig said...

So true!