Dangers to rabbits: outside and indoors
When your rabbits are having free-range time outside there are dangers you should be aware of. Ensure any outside housing is secure, use strong mesh (not chicken wire) and take extra measures such as bolts and padlocks on doors as foxes can easily claw at catches and swing open a door. It is not 'inevitable' that a fox will break in and take your rabbit if it really wants to; it is easily prevented. Your bunnies are relying on you to protect them!
Depending on where you live there are different wild animals you have to protect your bunnies from. In the UK foxes are an obvious enemy to bunnies, but there are also other wild animals that may attack your pets, such as badgers and stoats etc. You should also rat-proof their living area. Foxes are not only about at night, town foxes especially are used to humans being around and will happily enter gardens in the daytime, jumping over 6ft walls with ease. Foxes have even been known to sneak into houses through open back doors!
Never leave your rabbits alone with other pets, and watch out for pets escaping from neighbouring houses and entering your garden. Cats often wander into neighbouring gardens and can kill rabbits.
Birds of prey in England can quickly swoop down and pick up rabbits, especially the smaller breeds. Make sure your rabbit's run has a roof on, or you are always there if your rabbit is in an open-roof enclosure or loose.
Get familiar with the plants in your garden and any weeds on the lawn, and research if they are poisonous to rabbits. If you're not sure, don't let your rabbits eat them. If they are safe, don't let your rabbits eat too many to start with as a sudden change in diet can upset their delicate stomachs. Fence off any plants you don't want them to eat, or pull them up. You can see a list of some poisonous plants on our 'Poisonous plants and foods to avoid' page. Never let your pets eat plants that have pesticides on them, or are near passing traffic because of the fumes.
As well as pesticides, be careful of other chemicals that your rabbits may accidentally ingest, such as painted fences or water surrounding drains.
Protect your rabbits from the elements, never let them get soaked through as it's difficult for them to dry properly and can make them ill. They don't cope well in hot weather so provide them with access to shade at all times. You can read more on our pages: Hot weather care and Cold weather care.
Check your rabbits daily for fleas, and in hot weather especially, for flystrike - flies and maggots around the bum. This is a deadly condition and needs to be addressed immediately. Read more on our page: What is flystrike?
Vaccinate your rabbits twice a year for both myxomatosis and VHD. It is passed on by insects and can affect both outdoor buns as well as house rabbits.
Check for and remove dangerous objects in the garden, such as mesh they might get trapped in, or sharp corners or nails sticking out of wood.
Unfortunately humans are also a risk to outdoor bunnies. Whether it be burglars or nasty people just out to sabotage, the only way you can protect your rabbits is to keep them as indoor pets, bring them in at night as you would your cats, or at least put padlocks on the hutch/shed.
If you are planning to keep your pet rabbits indoors, you'll need to take a few steps to rabbit-proof your home! This is for your bunnies' safety and also to protect your own belongings from the little nibblers. You can read more about this at www.bunnyproof.com.
Don't leave electrical cables lying around, they can electrocute your rabbits, and you may find yourself having to buy new phone chargers or other electrical goods!
Keep potted plants out of reach in case they are poisonous, and be sure to pick up any leaves that fall off onto the floor.
Rabbits have sensitive respiratory systems so avoid harsh cleaning chemicals such as sprays, carpet powder, air fresheners etc when they are around. If you need to use these, put your rabbits outdoors in a secure run until the air indoors has cleared.
Don't let your rabbits eat any human food, and be careful not to drop any on the floor where they could run over and eat it. A favourite trick of Lily and Billy is to tip over the waste paper bin and pull everything out, especially if there is a banana skin in there, so do your best to avoid this!
You still need to vaccinate your rabbits as even house rabbits can catch diseases such as myxomatosis and VHD.
Anything we've missed
These are just a few dangers you should be aware of. Try and see your house and garden from a rabbit's point of view and look at all the objects with chewing, licking and sniffing in mind!