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Pets, things to consider before owning a pet – pros and cons of keeping rabbits indoors or outdoors

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girl cuddling a rabbit



Before choosing a pet it is imperative
that a great deal of thought is given to ensure that it is suitable for both
your environment and family situation e.g.:-

  • How much time are you prepared to spend on them?

  • How much house room have you got?

  • Are they suitable for children?

  • How much will they cost to keep?

  • Are you fit enough to keep them properly?


This subject has caused a
great deal of debate and discussion as the advice I originally set out has
been condemned at best as being misleading and at worst down right

In order to set the matter
straight I would like to stress I am no expert and have very little
experience of rabbits except for the fact my children had two as pets many
years ago.  The points listed have been gleaned from various sources,
individuals and organisations over the years.  However, there are
many who disagree with this point of view and their comments together with
links to specialist sites are also
shown in the hope this will enable visitors to make up their own mind as
to what is best for the rabbits.

Mr. DeGroff, in
particular, has been really upset by the advice initially featured on
this page and in order to rectify this matter I give immediately below
information he feels would be more appropriate on this subject. 
Other comments received from this gentleman together with others is
given further down.

I urge everyone to read the rest
of this page before making any decisions.

  • These will need feeding
    twice daily, and their living quarters need regular cleaning out. 
    The more they are handled the better they will respond. 

  • They make ideal pets for school age children who are
    prepared to look after them regularly, even if under supervision.

  • The cost of upkeep is fairly low but they will
    require commercial rabbit food as table leftovers are not enough, housing, fresh bedding
    (straw) etc., vet’s fees.

  • Owner’s mobility, or lack of it, is not important
    apart from the hutch cleaning and obtaining fresh bedding etc.

  • Rabbits need to be kept outside in a sheltered area,
    they are too messy for indoor living but should be given regular
    exercise in a purpose made run.  Detailed advice on this can be
    found at

I am aware that not everyone
agrees but some people choose to keep rabbits in cages and 
it is essential that these provide adequate room for the animals
in question. The size and number to be housed should be taken
into account when making your choice and don’t forget, rabbits
grow!  This

may help when making this decision.

Advice from Mr. DeGroff

people “make up their own minds” by giving them factual data. 
Posting false information and calling them  “Facts”
is misleading – which is why people are on your butt about it.

doesn’t matter what you gleaned through the years, if it’s false
information…  Many people hear wives tales through the years that
are not based in fact.   But when that facts finally arrive,
you obviously are indignant to believe the old wives tales and present
them as “facts” on your site.

“facts” aren’t facts.  I’ve disproved many of them
already, and have challenged you to experience owning a house rabbit for
yourself if you can’t bring yourself to learn from people who own house
rabbits.  Passing on incorrect information is one thing, but
arguing with everyone about it, instead of correcting it just shows that
you have little desire to help other people…

you wanted to help people, you could take the information you’ve been
given and modify your “Facts”…..

could say “Rabbits make good pets for
children, provided children are taught not to pick up a rabbit, like
other animals such as a cat.  Rabbits do not like being held
against their will, and thus will dig their nails in to scratch their
captors as a means of breaking free”….    June…. 
this kind of help is factual and gives me as a parent ample warning
about how a rabbit might act around my 5 year old daughter (who loves to
cuddle with animals).

could say, “Rabbits require a great deal up
upkeep. a potential owner should weigh that carefully before deciding to
bring one into their home.  Although many owners report a high
success rate of litter training, it’s wise to research methods of rabbit
proofing your house before allowing a rabbit to run loose in the
house”.  If this is not desirable, rabbits do well in a cage – provided
they are given adequate room and allowed a few hours of exercise time
outside the cage each day”

modifying your advice, you can offered a far more balanced view instead
of just simply passing off incorrect, incomplete data as fact.

up to you… right now your web page just looks like a war zone.. and
you appear to be stubborn.  Once someone researches the subject
further, they are going to see why people were on your butt about it and
thus, your credibility will be lost.  If a person finds part of
your site to be hogwash, then they will very unlikely find any merit in
the rest of it – because you’ve lost their trust.

this is my last email….  I no longer want to argue the subject
with someone who refuses to learn anything new…. has no personal
experience on a matter, yet argues with people who do.

It is very disappointing to see Web Sites such as
yours purport that they are experts when in fact they know very little on a
topic. Kind of like “jack of all trades, but good at none”. How
frustrating for an animal care worker such as myself to read your
“advice” on rabbits. And even more frustrating (and sad) for the
animals acquired by the people who read your site information, believed the
information and then their animal purchase turned out to be not as defined
on your Web Site.

Please listen to people such as Mr. DeGroff. He is someone
who is providing correct information. With respect to your “Cats”
section and “Hamsters, Etc.” section I am absolutely bewildered at
where you get your information. My suggestion … enroll in an Animal
Welfare course, learn the correct information, and then create your Web

For the animals … DeeJay


I have had a response from Ms.
Tracey Hunt pointing out how unfair this statement was. She went on to say “Rabbits
are, in fact, very clean animals that will only go to the toilet in one place, they use a
litter tray like a cat.  Of course any animal living indoors will be messy if you do
not provide them with toilet facilities.  If a cat is kept in all the time with no
litter tray they would be very messy house animals.  It is actually incredibly cruel
to keep an animal like a rabbit hutched.  They are very loving creatures that need
space to move around in.”

I thank her
for this input and hope this puts the record straight.  She also suggests looking at
http://www.rabbit.org for more information.

I have been brought
to task yet again, this time by

, who has written
as follows:- 

Unfortunately, your
information on pet rabbits is all wrong. Rabbits should NOT be kept
outside. There, they are vulnerable to weather, predators, flystrike,
and they can even die if a predator comes near them, out of fear. They
make wonderful indoor pets, can be litter box trained, and indoors, they
are more part of the family. I have three that have free run of the
house. You should, as I believe someone else advised you, check out the
House Rabbit Society and get your facts straight. Also, there is a
listserve called EtherBun where owners of house rabbits get together to
discuss care of indoor rabbits. Indoor rabbits live ten years and
beyond, while “hutch” rabbits tend to have much shorter,
harder lives.

Also, rabbits are NOT
good pets for young children. Their bones are fragile, they startle
easily, and can bite or scratch when frightened. Most rabbits do not
like to be picked up or cuddled, which children will invariably try.
Plus, their complex digestive system means that their diet must be
closely attended to. Pet rabbits should be neutered, and vet bills for
“exotics” can be pricey. I volunteer with a group called
Rabbit Rescue and Rehab, and half of the dumped rabbits are from
misinformed parents who buy the bunny for their children, not realizing
the amount of care they require.

Please correct your
information. It would be a shame if someone read your erroneous
information and some poor rabbit had to suffer for it.

Another person (Kellie Beamont) has contact me concerned about the
information given –

“You should consider changing the information you
have about rabbits on your website. The information is incorrect, if
uneducated people were to be researching buying a rabbit, they would but
it and keep it in cruel conditions and wonder why they have a vicious
growing thing that hates contact with humans and runs away all the time!
(The rabbit roundabout (South East London) has thousands of
unwanteds dumped off every year) Rabbits become very depressed when kept
outside on there own, and need a lot of time/attention and love to be
kept indoors safely (as much as a dog), not really good pets for

There are 100’s of useful websites. Try the rabbit society!”

Dan DeGroff writes –

not sure why you stand by your advice and then point to correction
letters as mere opinions when it comes to pet rabbits and/or rabbit

There is substantial
information available on the net that factually supports many of the
statements made by respondents to your rabbit section, including the Pet
Rabbit Society who certainly has researched the matter far more
thoroughly than I’m sure you would care to attempt.

To suggest throwing a
rabbit in an outside hutch is humane as compared to properly caring for
a domesticated rabbit in your home is completely contrary to what all
responsible house rabbit owners already know from daily experience and
careful research.

There is a large
distinction between domesticated rabbits and wild rabbits and you can’t
classify them the same way. Nor can you apply the same standards of
advice to both classes.

House rabbits aren’t for
everyone of course… it’s important to the rabbit’s health and
happiness that you research the proper care of a rabbit before starting
the process – however to simply say it’s all opinion just tells me you
have no personal experience on the subject, and shouldn’t be lecturing
or advising on the matter. Hands on experience and research is more
valuable to prospective pet owners than your guesses ever will be.

If it’s your opinion,
then present it as a collection of your opinions or please document
factual resources to support your statements…

Our house rabbit rarely
makes a mess in the house. Far fewer times than the cats I’ve owned in
the past. She uses a single litter box, sheds far less, grooms herself
constantly, and will not drag a dead mouse up to the house when you let
her in the back yard for an hour. After one year she is as clean as the
day she was brought home – and does not require a bath or a flea collar
(although fleas are a concern for outdoor rabbits). After a rabbit marks
her territory with droppings (which are easy to sweep up), they soon
drop the habit once they feel they’ve properly established your home as
their own… I rarely find a dropping anywhere in my house.

Chalking my experience
(which is commonly mirrored by thousands of rabbit owners) up to mere
opinion is an insult… That’s like telling you that your life
experiences aren’t real… just opinion.

Now is a rabbit in the
wild happier than in a home? THAT would be a matter of opinion…. but
you aren’t posting a site to argue those points. You are talking about
pets…. and when it comes to rabbits, you obviously don’t have nearly
enough data or experience to be passing YOUR opinions to others as if
they were facts..

You have every right to
look like an uniformed person who doesn’t have a clue what she’s talking
about, but I hope you’ll reconsider that path.”

Mr. DeGroff continued

are taking factual data and/or hands on experience and chalking it up as
opinion – when it is not opinion.

a rabbit be litter trained?   Yes….  that is not an
opinion, it’s a fact.  My rabbit is litter trained, along with
hundreds of thousands of other house rabbits across the country….

rabbits groom themselves?   Yes….  they bath themselves
constantly like any housecat does.  It isn’t opinion, it’s a fact.

rabbits shed fur?  Sure they do, but every rabbit I’ve owned sheds
far less than most dogs or cats… and if you brush them now and then,
shedding is almost a non issue.

rabbits destroy your house?  They can nibble things around the
house, if you don’t take some precautions, but again, the cats I’ve
owned clawed my furniture much worse than any rabbit I’ve owned.

for you to advise that rabbits are messy and thus should be thrown
outside in a hutch, completely ignores the facts…  if you applied
your standards across the board, all animals would belong outside in

Also, to say bringing a domesticated rabbit into the home is cruel. 
Come on…   Every rabbit I’ve owned is in heaven when she’s
free to romp the house instead of confinement.  Rabbits are
social creatures and many love to be around people.  If I
leave the living room and go upstairs to work on the computer, the
rabbit follows and then plays in the room while I work.  She hates
to be put in her cage when it’s time for bed and is revved up to come
out of the cage early the next morning…

a free rabbit can fully exercise her instincts and behaviors the way
nature intended.  Rabbits weren’t hardwired to sit in a hutch….
For example… while cats play “catch” to hone their skills,
rabbits play “Catch me, if you can” to hone theirs.  
Throwing the rabbit into a hutch disconnects them from this important
activity, along with hundreds of other embedded needs.

free reign of the house isn’t as accommodating to these needs like
living completely free in the wild, but it certainly comes much closer
than sitting in a hutch outside.

to your site are trying to give you information based on fact and
experience.. but you discount it all as opinion and post your views as
“the facts”…   drawn on conclusions you have
little real experience on.

your site made it clear to the public that you have little personal
experience on the matter… and that the statements you are making are
your opinion…. then no one would care…..

visitors to your site are lead to believe you do have experience on the
matter of rabbits and that your statements are factual. Which they
clearly are not.

you really say rabbits are excellent for young school children?  
There are other animals that are much more accommodating to young
children than rabbits.  Rabbits hate to be controlled, lifted or
held against their will….and it’s easy for a child to be scratched,
because children love to hold animals…  It isn’t typically
the best match – and shouldn’t be promoted as such.   If you
think it’s an opinion, go get a rabbit and find out for yourself. 
Your “opinion” will very likely change within the first 30

I have built and own several free sites.  Just because it’s
“free” doesn’t mean it has to contain incorrect information. 
But like I said, you’re welcome to make yourself look as uninformed as
you like.


I am really sorry if my rabbit information
has offended anyone.
The information
is given in good faith and, as in most things, it appears to

a matter of personal opinion as to what is best. Some people think

keeping rabbits in houses is unhygienic and
cruel to the rabbit, whereas,
think it is the best place for them.

I don’t consider
the information shown on Hints and Things is actually wrong

can be seen on the Rabbit Welfare Association site where they have
information on how to keep rabbits indoors and outdoors.

I am no expert and am
only trying to give people all the various facts in

order for them to make up their own minds. I
feel I have made it very clear
are different opinions on this subject and have also taken the trouble

to give other sites where more comprehensive
information can be found.

RSPCA (which is one of the
largest animal charities in the UK) states that it is acceptable to keep
rabbits either inside or outside, so long as their behavourial needs are
catered for.

No doubt, I could find sites which
state categorically they should only be housed indoors and others where
they say they should be outside. I can only supply the relevant
information and leave others to make up their own mind.

I really appreciate these visitors’
time and trouble as it helps me to give a more rounded viewpoint.


animals in the house such as rabbits is a contentious issue with many differing views
and there are of course many other animals that make excellent
pets including
fish and