Outdoor rabbits are exposed to extremes of weather: heat, cold, thunder, lightning, high winds (which can damage or destroy housing). Of these, heat is particularly dangerous: rabbits succumb very quickly to high temperatures, and need to be kept cool in the summer. In extremely cold weather, drinking water freezes and rabbits can become dehydrated.
Outdoor rabbits are prone to insect/tick bites and fly strike (flies laying eggs on the rabbit and the larvae burrow into the rabbit’s flesh).
Outdoor rabbits are exposed to parasites and diseases carried by other animals; e.g., raccoons carry Baylisascaris procyonis, which rabbits can pick up on the ground and ingest (by grooming their feet), and which can then migrate to the rabbit’s brain, where it is fatal.
Outdoor rabbits often become the victims of poisoning from pesticides, herbicides, and/or fertilizers. Even if your neighbor uses them, rain will wash the chemicals onto your property. In many areas, ground and air spraying of toxic chemicals is used because of the threat of West Nile Virus.
Outdoor rabbits often are often neglected or forgotten once the novelty wears off. Their food and water may become infested with insects, bacteria, or molds. They do not get the human inter- action they need in order to develop trust, and often become extremely hard to handle as a result.
Outdoor rabbits are “out of sight,” if not “out of mind,” and this makes it almost impossible for owners to become adequately familiar with their bunny’s “normal behaviors.” When you are not thoroughly familiar with your bunny’s normal behaviors, it is difficult to recognize subtle signs of illness/injury in time to prevent emergency visits.
Outdoor rabbits experience fear from unfamiliar sounds, from which they cannot escape (e.g., lawnmowers, leaf/snow blowers, tree chopping), smells, unfamiliar
visitors (e.g. neighborhood children, passersby, etc.).
Outdoor rabbits often become the victims of predators (dogs, cats, hawks, raccoons, snakes), and can suffer fatal heart attacks from even the approach of a predator.
Outdoor rabbits (especially those housed in hutches) often get little or no exercise. Rabbits that are let loose in a yard for exercise face all of the above
dangers, as well as road hazards and the risk of getting lost if they escape from the yard.