HRS Chicago does not recommend outside playtime for domestic rabbits in the US. We have seen far too many injuries and “rare” parasites in our rescued rabbits to comfortably give it the OK. Some of the hazards include :

Outdoor Hazards: Hawks and Crows

The increasing presence of hawks in our area poses a serious threat. In just a matter of seconds, these birds can swoop down and capture a rabbit, even within the confines of a yard or on a deck. It’s important to recognize that open-top pens don’t offer foolproof protection against attacks from birds of prey, dogs, or cats.

Harness and Leash Dangers

Never ever put a harness or leash on a rabbit. Rabbit skeletons are really fragile, they make up only 8% of their body weight, as opposed to 13% in cats. Their skeletons are often referred to as “bird-like.” One swift move from a rabbit in a harness on a leash and their spine can easily snap.

Poisonous Plants

Backyards and gardens are often filled with seemingly harmless yet poisonous weeds and plants. Unfortunately, our domestic companion rabbits lack the instinct to avoid these potentially harmful plants, putting them at risk of ingestion and subsequent health issues.

Chemical Exposure from Lawns

Chemicals commonly used on lawns, such as fertilizers, herbicides, and insecticides, can pose a significant threat to rabbits. As they groom themselves, rabbits may inadvertently ingest these chemicals, resulting in severe illness or death.

Pests and Diseases

The outdoor environment introduces the risk of pests and diseases. Fleas, mites, myiasis, cuterebra(bot fly larva), tapeworm, sarcocystis, toxoplasma, and baylisascaris are all commonly seen in rabbits that have spent time outdoors in our area.

RHDV2 Virus

The highly contagious and lethal RHDV2 virus is in Chicago. It can be transmitted through contaminated grass, soil, insects and more. It’s strongly advised to have your rabbits vaccinated and keep them indoors to minimize exposure.

Indoor Play Areas

Given the multitude of outdoor risks, creating indoor play areas for your rabbit is the safest option. Whether using spare bedrooms, basements, or corners of family rooms, you can design a bunny playground with various stimulating elements, ensuring a secure and enjoyable space for your rabbit to exercise, play, hop, leap, and dance without the associated outdoor dangers.