*Thumper, the bunny we found in an alley and took in until we could find him a forever home*
Rabbits are social animals and while they can live outside in a cage or hutch with minimal stimulus from humans, they will not live as long as an indoor rabbit will. They will become bored, depressed and sick if left outside and not cared for.
Indoor Vs Outdoor
Many people think that rabbits will be very happy just living in their hutch outside in a back yard or garage as long as they have plenty of food, water and toys but this is not the case.
Rabbits are social animals and must have contact and interaction with their humans. They also must be let out of their hutch or cage everyday for exercise or they will become stressed, bored, unhappy and may even die before his time.
Rabbits that are left in their cages or hutch outside are also at the mercy of the weather, predators and insects. All of these things can lead to unhappy and unhealthy rabbits. A feral cat or wild raccoon may find a way into your rabbit's hutch or cage during the night and kill or hurt your bunny, so you should always bring the cage or hutch inside the house where he will be safe at night.
The single most important thing to do before letting a rabbit loose in your home is to 'rabbit proof' your home. Indoor rabbits are usually happier, healthier and easier to take care of.
Block cords, wires, outlets and small crevices like under beds, under couches and behind the refrigerator with furniture or baby gates. Tie all loose wires up out of reach of the rabbit, make sure poisonous plants and flowers are kept up high so your rabbit won't mistakenly eat them.
As long as things that can hurt your rabbit are out of reach you should be able to let your rabbit run free in the 'rabbit proofed' part of your home. The use of baby gates can help curtail some exploring but as we all know rabbits can jump and younger rabbits might find themselves wanting to know what's on the other side of the gate.
If you find this is true, you may have to get higher gates or keep a watchful eye on your bunny. Rabbits are very clever and will wait until you are not looking before they try to jump over furniture or a baby gate to explore new territory. Older rabbits tend to be more controllable and not quite as adventurous.
A cage should always be available for your rabbit whether you have inside or not. This is where he will go to get water, food and eat his treats. A comfortable cage with plenty of toys and a soft place to sleep will make your rabbit feel more comfortable. A litter box should also be available at all times. You can learn How to Litter Box Train Your Pet Rabbit by reading articles and taking your time and having patience.
Your rabbit's cage will be its safe haven when he wants to rest, eat and be alone. So it should always be open for him to use.
Going for a walk
Rabbits need exercise everyday to keep them healthy. Whether it's running around the house, jumping around in a fenced in yard or going for a walk on a leash, a rabbit needs and will love to have some exercise.
Leashes or harnesses can be bought at most pet shops. A harness is the best type of leash for a rabbit. A leash and collar that fits just around the neck would too easily fall off or be too tight and might harm the rabbit.
A harness specifically for rabbits will fit around a rabbit and make it hard to slip out of and get lost. It's best to start off on a harness in a yard and let your rabbit get used to wearing it before trying to go out on the sidewalk around other people, cars and other animals.
Some rabbits can be quite skittish and might react badly to the sights and sounds out in an open area they are not used to. So start out slowly and let your rabbit get used to the noises, sights, smells and other people and animals. Don't rush or push your pet rabbit into situations that he doesn't like.