If you let your rabbit roam freely in your garden or yard there are a number of bunny proofing measures you can take. By following these guidelines you can minimise the damage from digging and chewing and make this space safe and escape proof.
Firstly you will need to make some changes to the garden. Make sure things that could be knocked over and fall on your rabbit are secured or removed. Ensure plants or chemicals that could cause harm if eaten are stored away safely and out of reach. Find a permanent and secure storage place for chemicals, stacked up furniture or rakes or other tools that may be lent up against a wall, get in the habit of putting them away when you have finished using them.
Secondly you will need to think about preventing escape. We recommend you don’t leave your rabbit to play outdoors without supervision, even when supervised it’s a mistake to think they will be happy staying in the confines of your yard. Rabbits are instinctively curiosity and will always be driven to test their boundaries. Rabbits are adept at digging under obstacles and often enjoy chewing wooden materials. Unless you are not one step ahead by bunny proofing every part of your yard, which you’ll need recheck regularly, you may find while your back has been turned your bunny has been steadily working towards escaping the safe environment you provide them and into a world of unsuspecting danger.
Lastly you will need to make some provision to ensure there is lots of shelter to help you bunny to feel happy and safe, giving it somewhere to hide if it feels under attack from a predator.
Doing a thorough job of bunny proofing your garden is essential for buns that go outdoors and on this page we detail the many ways other bunny owners have tackled these issues so you can follow them and make sure you have done a thorough job.
Remove anything that may fall and cause harm
The first thing to consider is what can be removed that could cause harm to your rabbit. Have a good look about and find a place to store anything that a curious rabbit may explore and be hurt by. Store items resting up against walls that can fall on your rabbit if knocked over and store away anything that is stacked up. Rabbits do like climbing, scrabbling up stacked furniture could cause it to topple over on to your bun. Put away any gardening equipment that is left out. Be careful not to leave bicycles lent up against a wall as rabbits can become entangle in the chain or even knock it over.
Do not use toxic chemicals in the garden
Make sure all chemical such as fertilisers, weed killers, insecticides or cleaning agents are stored out of reach on a high shelf or in a locked cupboard. Do a sweep of the garden and clean up any elastic bands, cigarette butts, toys with batteries and anything else that that may be toxic if eaten.
Makes sure that toxic chemicals have not been used in the garden. Examples of toxic chemicals include, Week killers, pesticides, fertilisers, slug pellets . Be mindful of anything else that may contain these substances such as bagged soils or compost, sands and gravels that may be used in gardening.
Check the perimeter fencing and hedges for escape routes
The perimeter of your garden or yard will constantly be tested by your exploring house rabbit . They can crawl through surprisingly small gaps and with a bit of digging and chewing they can quickly open up a space big enough to squeeze through.
Don’t take any chances, even if your fence goes down to the ground its best to dig along the edge and bury some bricks or lengths of wood along the edge. If you have a hedge then you can make it escape proof with some wire mesh, its best to bury this into the ground so it can’t be undermined.
If you rabbit does enjoy digging and starts to excavate a spot you could lay a paving stone or tile over the area. Try and provide lot’s of safe and acceptable alternatives as a distraction such as tunnel toys or a digging boxes.
Double check the back gate
Back gates nearly always need some improvement and it especially important to bunny proof them if they lead to dangers outside such as a busy street or areas where people walk their dogs.
Gates may have large natural spaces underneath them which a house rabbit can crawl under or a poor latch making it difficult to close causing them being left open. Block off any spaces under or around the gate. If the gate does not close on its own, invest in a self closing mechanism. These can be purchased from a DIY or hardware store .
If you let a house rabbit roam in your garden or yard there is always the danger of attack from wild and domestic predators. Gardens often lack the natural defences wild rabbits use to stay safe such as places to hide and other watchful eyes, this can leave your house rabbit very exposed.
You can’t keep an eye on your rabbit all the time. Pet stores sell many types of runs and pens you an purchase. Use these to let your house rabbit play safely in a secure enclosed environment. Make sure they offer protection from the top and are secured to the ground. Predators like foxes can easily lift up a wooden box or even chew through thin chicken wire. Make sure you have protection from the elements too such as cover from rain or shade for hot days.
Rabbits like to test things to see if it can be eaten and can eat a surprising amount of materials we would not consider as food. Sharp teeth can strip bark from tree or shrub. Flower beds can make a tasty treat and soil in playing areas can be dug up and young roots eaten.
You may need to protect some areas of your garden or yard with some fencing to stop your house rabbit roaming into areas where damage can occur. This can be done by taking a pet pen and breaking it up to make a fence.
Always provide lots of alternatives that your rabbit can chew. There are lots of chew toys you can buy in your local pet store such as willow sticks and wicker balls, or free alternatives such as cardboard boxes. By providing these distractions you will keep your rabbit amused and away from your plants.
A wild rabbit is normally quite safe and happy munching on the abundance of plants they are familiar with in their environment. However the colourful and exotic plants you may have in your garden or yard can often be very poisonous. Sadly your house rabbit will not recognise a plant is toxic by its taste. Make sure your house rabbit’s access to flower bets is restricted and place potted plants out of reach.
Rabbits will always want to test their boundaries
The grass always looks greener the other side of the fence especially to a curious or hungry rabbit. Rabbits like to explore but may not be so good at finding their way back, they are not good at judging the risk there may be outside of the safe environment you provide.
- Make sure your rabbit cannot climb up on things to get over your wall or fence
- Make sure it has plenty of safe places to shelter so it feels happy and safe and dose not dig a hole for its own shelter
- Block of gaps in hedges and under gates or fences
- Fence of areas of garden with vegetables or flowers with sections of pet pen
- If you rabbit is in a run, move the run around regularly to let the grass regenerate
- Never use gardening equipment such as weed strimmers or lawn mowers in front of your rabbit
- Never leave anything out that can be harmful such as cigarette butts, slug pellets or other fertilisers, poisons or insecticides
- Avoid using fertilisers, poisons or insecticides in areas your rabbit can roam in
- Make sure your rabbit has plenty of safe places to hide from predators
- Don’t leave things resting against walls such as rakes or bikes that can get knocked over and fall on your rabbit
Need more help? Why not ask the Bunny Proofing group!
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