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The Great Indoor Rabbit Debate

Updated on October 9, 2007

Some people think that rabbits belong out in the backyard in a hutch, occasionally having hay and carrots shoved at them. It's an intriguing theory, and one that a surprisingly large percentage of the rabbit owning population seem to subscribe to. Many outdoor rabbits tend to be children's pets, with the parent thinking that they will be easy and simple to care for given that they live outside and won't make a mess on the rug.

This is true, outdoor imprisonment will mean that your bunny never gets near your rug, and it also means that you are unlikely to have to foot bills for shoes, cords and other household items that have been mercilessly assaulted by surprisingly sharp bunny teeth.

To be fair, the concept of keeping rabbits indoors is somewhat of a new one in many circles. People are surprised to see a rabbit laying out on the sofa, looking comfortable and pretty pleased with itself. Should you do it? Should your bunny be inside? Let's look at the pros and cons of keeping your rabbit indoors.

The salient points:

If you keep your rabbit indoors. You will actually spend time with your rabbit, thereby bonding with it and having a much more pleasant pet all round. Most rabbits require quite a bit of time and attention in order to make them friendly and affectionate, and like a dog or cat, they don't bond with you unless they spend time with you.

This brings me to my second point. Although they can appear less than intelligent at times, bunnies are actually pretty smart, and much closer to a cat or dog in intelligence, affection and temperament than say a guinea pig. This means that shutting them in a tiny cage in the back yard is tantamount to mental cruelty.

Rabbits need exercise. If you've ever seen rabbits in the wild, perhaps on television, you might notice that they are quite good at running. They love to run, running is perhaps their favorite activity. You don't get much of that when you're stuck in a little cage that is only a few hops long. Add physical cruelty to the outdoor list, unless of course you build a really large hutch for your bunnies.

Another surprising fact is that they are surprisingly easy to toilet train. Simply make sure that you keep your rabbit in it's indoor cage long enough that it establishes a spot to toilet in, and that should, in theory, be the end of it. It was in the case of my own rabbits.

On the downside, you will have to bunny proof your house. Their attraction to electrical cords is legendary and akin to the proverbial attraction of the moth to the flame. They also like anything rubber, and may have a go at wooden objects too. You can decrease the amount of destruction your rabbit wreaks on your surroundings by supervising your rabbit, and making sure he or she has ample toys that they can play with.


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      Mark 4 years ago

      I keep my rabbit called Bugsy outdoors and he seems to be very happy and healthy. We take him to the vets every year to get him health checks and make sure he has any vaccinations he may need, especially in summer as he is outside. We have a large secure garden safe from preditors and he can run around and play all day, and we close his hutch at night! In the winter we wrap his hutch in layers of sheets when it's cold, and always have a clear sheet to stop the wind, as he does not like the wind, and this as well as many other places makes great protection! We make sure that we spend lots of time with him, at least 1 to 2 hours a day to bond and play with him. We let him dig and play with many toys to keep him entatained. However I feel really bad after reading several articles like this, what are your opinions should I keep him inside

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      cheryl 5 years ago

      l rescused a bunny and hes an indoor bunny l have had him for 3 weeks and have put adds up all round as l can not keep him as live in small flat.have had two people ring up but they want to keep the bunny outside is this ok?

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      Sandy#1 5 years ago

      I have a bunny named Sandy. She's outdoor and really, REALLY intelligent compared to some of the other rabbits that we have. It's like she can comprehend what your saying, its AMAZING! I'm trying to litter box train her right now. I got this really good tip from a video saying to use newspaper, but I don't get that at my house. Any ideas for replacment papers to use? Also, I've been tossing around the idea of maybe trying to convince my parents to allow her to be an indoor bunny. (She's been outdoor her whole life. Born in winter in a box stuffed with her wonderful mothers fur and hay and other siblings all of which we've adopted out except her and her sister which they are about 2 yrs old.) Do you think that the transition would be too difficult for her? And what and how should I tell my parents? Help is appreciated!!

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      Bab1204 5 years ago

      Our Bunny is an indoor rabbit. She has a large cage with a corner litterbox, a hammock, hay manger, toys, stuffed "baby" and a bunny igloo. She naps and lounges during the day when we're at school/work. We let her out in the afternoons/evenings and she goes back in on her own to munch or use her box... and she has another litter box for convenience. She doesn't chew cords, but we are careful to keep them out of reach. She plays with our dog and cats, sprints around doing binkies and hops up to cuddle with us. I would not leave her outside. She enjoys walks on her leash to explore or lay in the grass. We never leave her out unattended. She is a vital part of our family. My daughter thoroughly cleans her "house" every night and it keeps her litter box (with aspen chips) from being smelly. She is a joyous critter and dearly treasured.

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      Rabbits 5 years ago

      First I Remember That Picture With Two Rabbits In A Tea Cup I Saw It In Google Images. Secound I Think You Should Make Sure His Old Enough To Be On His Own Then You Can Decide To Take Him To The Wild. Just Make Sure It's Somewhere Safe In The Wild. And Theres ThunderStorms Right Now

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      wild rabbit 5 years ago

      I have a wild rabbit, something had got into the nest in the ground and killed all the sblings but one he didn't even have his eyes open yet I took him home and have cared for him been about 11 months now wondering is it ok to return him back into the wild where he belongs or to continue keeping him in the house he runs loose in one room until I open the door and then he runs the intire house my question should I turn him loose in the wild or keep him in the house.

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      Crickett 5 years ago

      We created a home for our bunny under my daughter's bed. NOT as cruel as it sounds, she has a loft bed. We took chicken wire and wrapped it around the bed frame. This gives him a pretty large area to run. We did learn that the hard wood floors caused sores on his paws, so added "gym flooring" for padding.

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      binkylove 5 years ago

      I am just wondering if i have to put my indoor rabbit in its cage when I go to work my house is rabbit proof. Because she really hates being locked in her cage

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      Stephen 5 years ago

      I have had an indoor rabbit for over 6 months and now I'm moving house he will go outside. No matter what we try he is destructive, eating the carpets, not litter trained, marking his territory and ruining furniture. He has toys to play with, cubby holes to hide in, chewy toys to chew, a separate litter tray and a 6ftx3ft hutch to go into which we stopped closing the door on when he seemed to have settled but he hasn't. We rabbit proofed the house as much as possible but he has still eaten through wires and chews the skirting boards, bottom of furniture and carpet and I'm fed up of him. I had a perfectly happy outdoor rabbit before who used to binky and run about the garden at his most active times (early am and late afternoon) and was only brought in overnight in winter. This destructive rabbit will be going outside into a completely enclosed garden where he will be let out for at least 2 hours in the morning and 5 hours in the evening when I will try and bring him inside for cuddles as he is actually quite friendly towards people. I'm just fed up of my house being destroyed just because of a rabbit, who should be living outside anyway.

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      julie 5 years ago

      You are so right on everything you said. I have not long bought 2 small dwarf rabbits few months ago. the pet shop sold me a very small indoor cage with small top opening and it was hard for me to get them in and out they were frighted. I didn't know much about keeping rabbits but i'm learning all the time each day and week. Within the second week I bought a 100cm long indoor cage put platforms for them to jump up and down. I bought a play pen for them to play and run around in all day in the house as I don't want them eating my furniture. I got them a double decker hutch 2 months ago when i got them but been to cold to put them out so when I used it for the first time last week I felt they didn't have enoth room so bought a big chicken house that also for rabbits. they love it so much an so much space to run around. I have a proper hutch cover over it to keep them warm. I only put them out in the day when weather is ok then bring them in in the night. The out door hutch is for the large space they need to run around safe. An I always pop in and out all day to open the door and pet them well there just outside my back door. I'm so over protective its unreal. I buy all there toy to chew like wood and dry straw chewy items and wood see saw they look this to bit and scratch. I feed them the seeds for rabbits in a block and dry grass as they don't like hay to eat they like it to poo on. my out door hutch I put kitchen lino under and stapled it on so there not on the cold floor the hutch has a proper weather cover but i also put a car cover over it all and keep the front open for them to see everywhere. I love my wee baby boy rabbits snowy and lucky so much and do my best to give them the best life possible. Sum say clean there cage etc 1 or 2 times a week but i clean out there toilet up to 5 plus times aday to make sure its all clean for them. And they don't even pee on the lino I put in the outdoor hutch the go to the litter tray but still drop a few poo here and there. I RECOMMEND ANYONE GETTING RABBITS but beware if you want to look after them well it will cost you quite a lot of money. thanks

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      Leanne 5 years ago

      Ive just bought a rabbit, he is a winter born rabbit which means he has to stay indoors, when is it okay to get him a hutch and put him outdoors, my mam really doesn't want him indoors :(

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      Flora 6 years ago

      I love rabbits but they aren't as good as Suviving in the backyard, free range, as guinea pigs so during the Night we keep it in a small cage and during the day, for approximately 14 hours, it is out on the grass or hangs out by the pool and watches me clean the pool sometimes. We can't let it free range inside. The hassles of the pop going everywhere and marking it's territory just wasn't worth it plus every time we let it inside, it just wants to go out and stands by the door waiting to be let out. They're great pets. A lot of people don't realize how cute and fun they are just to have around. Mine jumps on my bed now, nudges you on your foot to get attention. My former rabbits were great but they kept disappearing due to stray cats =\

      I had a rabbit free range in my room a few years ago. EVERY morning it would jump on my bed, scratch the sheets to wake me up and if that didn't work to wake me up, it'd pee on my bed. Smart animals.

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      Elizabeth 6 years ago

      Hi! I just Read your article, I have a question.

      I've adopted two rabbits(two weeks ago), and I built a big(2m*2m) outdoor cage for them, can i take them home during the evenings?(I did so three days ago, and they seemed quiet happy)

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      Smiles 6 years ago

      Do indoor rabits attrack spiders or get rid or them??

      Also to potty train them do I get a cat litter tray with just hay in?

      Or will my bunnies use their cage if I leave it open for them?


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      deanna46 6 years ago

      my rabbit has the best of both worlds i put her in her hutch with a run attached in the morning before i got to work then when i get home ill open her run and she has the whole garedn to run around in for another 2 hours then i open the door just b4 it gets dark and she runs indoors and into her small hutch in the house , where she lies spralled out on her blanket with the hutch door open where shes free to come in and out, ill lie on the floor and stroke her and she loves it , then shes shut in when i go to bed and let out 1st thing in the morning , i hope shes a happy bunny

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      iknowaboutrabbits 6 years ago

      amazing! BUNNIEZ IS LIKE THE HUBPAGE RABBIT HERO! i do articles about rabbits to because i own a boy 2 year netherland dwarf, very hard to have out because i own i jack russel and to my dog, gruntz is a midday snack! (ps. my bunny binkies all over the place!) :-)

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      Nixxy 6 years ago

      My rabbit lives indoors and has done all his life, he has the run of our livingroom and binkies everywhere. Litter trained aswell. I would never make him live outside. He sits and watches the tv infront of the fire. Amazing pet!! So loving. I love my little Arthur x

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      Pancakes 7 years ago


      Indoor rabbits will litter-train themselves with only minimal effort from yourself, so relax and be patient. Baby rabbits also need lots of affection from humans, so they can be affectionate in return, so don't leave them to their own defences outside! I'm learning that they also have to be spayed or neutered, otherwise they urinate on your bed and leave droppings outside the litter box.

      My bunny Pancakes is honey-colored and about 7 months old; Not knowing, I left her in a cage outside all summer. Now she is not socialized. I am hopeful she will become more so as she grows older, for the older a rabbit gets, the smarter they get. Now I keep her inside, not in a cage - free to run free all day, but she won't let me touch her. To pick her up, I have to chase her under the bed. It's not always certain I can catch her, before I give up. Had I known to bring her in in the first place (and save $50 on a cage), I would have done so, and she would not be this shy, because I bought her at just about 2 months.

      She's learning to use the litter box slowly, but we've made great strides with that, given her intelligence. She just naturally learns. She wants to please! I'd sweep up all her droppings, put them in the litter box. Sometimes I'd lock her in there, in her nest, that is, in her "place." I'd always put her down in her litter box, the few times I could catch her. I did the newspaper thing, but that was it. I always mopped up a urine spot. I've hardly done anything to help her learn to use her indoor litter box, but she is using it! Hooray! She is using her litter box solely!

      Took two months, and not too much damage, except $160 for the electrical wires! I put towels down over areas with concentrated wires now, and I give her oak leaves and sticks to chew on. I have a little nest in my room made for her where her litter box is and food. And her water bottle! She loves to drink! She's a young rabbit and needs to chew, but I love how she hops and runs and jumps around. She's happy! Keep the heat down in the house though during winter! She loves to hang out in the cold, unheated rooms,but I won't let her. She's got to stay with me!

      And she hasn't eaten any more electrical wires!

      That bunny and I have a great future together! My dog and cats love her too!

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      anonymous 7 years ago

      Rabbits should ALWAYS be kept indoors, to prevent being eaten by predators. Did you know that rabbits can die of fright from a predator nearby without ever actually being touched by the predator? Additionally, a rabbit kept outside in a hutch will never be socialized with people, and it's mental health will suffer for it So please keep your bunny inside. An indoor bunny usually equals a happy bunny.

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      bunnygirl 7 years ago

      My bunny used to live inside and hated it we got him a hutch and he was the most happiest bunny ever indoor buunies hate being inside

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      angela 7 years ago

      The bunnies we keep as pets are domestic animals who need care. They are not "wild animals." In fact, they are not related to our American cottontail at all but are bred from European rabbits originally. A pet rabbit belongs in the house. My rabbits are loose all of the time. They use litter boxes which have hay in them. As far as preferring the outdoors, my rabbits seem to be pretty thrilled about lying stretched out on the rug with the a/c cranking in the summer and the heat on just right in the winter. My rabbits, like me and my dogs, prefer comfort and freedom as opposed to, say, sitting outside in a cage when it's either 10 or 100 degrees outside. Seems pretty simple to me. Like pet dogs, rabbits need to be "altered" as my elegant vet calls it. The rabbit sitting alone in the hutch in the yard was meant for eating. Eat him or bring him inside. No pet is "no trouble." If you're too lazy or too broke or a long time star of "short attention span theater", face the facts and relax. Let some one else bother about a pet rabbit. You and the hypothetical rabbit will be happier for it. On the other hand, if you think a house rabbit would make an interesting pet, guess what? You're right.

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      7 years ago


      I have a 3 month old mini lop and i want to keep her inside. but my mom and dad don't want her to stink up the house. :P and we spent $50 on a large hutch for her and I don't wanna not use it. :( we kept her inside for 2 days on account of the hot weather, and now when we put her back outside, and she had bugged eyes and she thumped a couple times too... i think she is unhappy outside now. she was having so much fun inside with me and my mom all day playing and she even did binkies :D so i wanna know how i can get my mom and dad to let her live inside without wasting the $50 hutch we've got in the back. thx!

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      meghan 7 years ago

      this article is explaining the bad points of keeping a rabbit inside and im sure that most of u would not like to have a rabbit pooping everywhere when u keep it inside. I have two rabbits and they stay outside in a very large cage where there is freash air and they also get to run around for at least two hours a day plus the kids play with them.i think this is the key to a good healthy realationship with your bunny as it does not need to be cuddled 24 hours a day 7 days a week

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      Megan 7 years ago

      Well this coming Thursday is supposed to fell like 112 degrees and I was debating whether or not to bring my bunnies inside. The people we got them from said that they preferred the outdoors much more than inside. So I'm going to research a little bit more. This website was kind of what I was looking for. I thought that it would be more specific though.

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      mika 7 years ago

      @ dragonflys

      I know your comment is old, however you have absolutely got the wrong idea and should NOT ever bathe a rabbit unless 100% nessicary (ei encounters something toxic like motor oil while out for a walk, sever diarrhea to avoid fly strike)

      If you do have to wash them NEVER FOR ANY REASON USE HUMAN SHAMPOO! If you can find rodent shampoo you are lucky, if not kitten shampoo as their fur responds well to it.

      Buns are like cats to in the fact that they lick themselves clean. I dont know about you but in my 15+ years of owning cats and rabbits I've never given either a bath "just because". If you keep the cage/bedding clean they don't smell what so ever. It's cruel and stressful to your poor critters and can quite possibly give them a heart attack

      Not all rabbits hate water. I have one who loves to swim and jump into puddles and splash about. But that is her CHOOSING to take a dip. Just remember that would be the exception to buns+water not the rule

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      Kristi 7 years ago

      Thanks for sharing your bunny know-how. I also have an indoor bunny. He is8 months old and wouldn't change him for the world! He has the run of most of the house while I am home or gone for short periods of time. But he also has a cage in the house that he likes to go in when he wants. He is litter boxed trained (took about 2 months) and he never has accidents. He does have a bad habit of chewing flip flops so we have gotten used to no shoes left on the floor!

      I just can't imaging how people can keep a rabbit locked up in a cage all day. If you take the time to get to know these little fuzzy critters, you will see what an awesome pet the really make. He acts like a dog! Comes when you call him & loves to be held!

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      Damselfly 7 years ago

      4) Regarding the potty training techniques, slowly herd the bunny(ies)into the potty, not pick them up and drop them in the potty. Gently guide them, push them slightly into the potty and once they're in, if they start to want to get out, taptap their nose so that they back up and tell them to peepee in there. If they successfully do it, reward them with a small snack and also encourage them verbally and pet them too.

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      Dragonflys 7 years ago

      @ maia.

      1 promise ur parents u will clean ur bunnies droping.

      2 potty train them. watch this youtube vid

      just copy and paste on ur address bar.

      be patient on training. takes about 2 to maybe 6 weeks to get them to know whr their potties are. First start out with a small room and limit their area, then when they know whr their cage and potties are, you can expand their roaming area. and oh, clean potties every morning. they love clean potties, because (some bunnies) they sleep in there.

      3 bathe your bunny like once a month with Johnson and Johnson baby shower gel (just only a little bit is good, then blow dry them with low heat or just air dry them if the weather is warm). or you can pick just for rabbit shower gel at your local pet store.

      4 slowly show your parents if your bunnies start to use potties, tell them "see, they are doing it"

      and lastly

      5 tell your parents bunnies will get a heart attack from outside when they get scare (too often from outside noises) or stress from weather too hot too cold and stuff. About the heart attack thing its not a joke.

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      maia 7 years ago

      my parents don't let my rabbits(cookie and sugar)inside how should i convince them to let them indoors?please comment i really want them indoors!!!!

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      zeny 7 years ago

      how do you stop rabbits from chewing cables?

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      mahalia12 8 years ago

      i just want to know where to keep my rabbit if my dog hates rabbits?

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      Judy 8 years ago

      Is there a consistent kind way to keep bunnies off the kitchen chairs?

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      sue 8 years ago

      If you choose to keep your rabbit outside make sure the hutch is 100% secure.we had 2 rabbits(Thumper & Smudge) living outside in a large hutch with attached run, but due to them chewing at the wood frame of the run a fox managed to prise it open and sadly caught Thumper.We immediately brought Smudge into the conservatory where she has lived happily ever since. I cannot imagine her living outside ever again.

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      Whitney 8 years ago

      My bunny is about 4 months old. He is doing extremely well with litter training, but seems to have a problem with a certain blanket that I have on my bed. He has never once urinated on my floor or even outside of his litter box, but I have caught him urinating on this blanket twice. When I used to live at home (in college now) this blanket was always on my bed where my dog would sleep. I don't know if it is a territory thing and that he maybe smells my dog's scent on it. I have tried to eliminate all his secret routes leading up to my bed, but he still figures out a way up there. I would rather not get rid of the blanket because I live in Northern Michigan and it gets really cold!!! I also can't exactly put a litter box on my bed! Any suggestions would be great!!!!!!!

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      Kayla 8 years ago

      Hii again for Wanda... both my rabbits are potty trained now and there only 3 months old and 8 months old. Just find out were your rabbit pees and put a potty there. Get two or three pottys as its easier and maybe put some of her droppings in there to encourage her.

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      Kayla 8 years ago

      Hii again for Wanda... both my rabbits are potty trained now and there only 3 months old and 8 months old. Just find out were your rabbit pees and put a potty there. Get two or three pottys as its easier and maybe put some of her droppings in there to encourage her.

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      Kayla 8 years ago

      I think rabbits should NOT be kept outside its so unfair. My rabbits have the perfect life living in my house and sleeping in my room being spoiled and having all the home comforts and that's what every rabbit should have.

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      Wanda 8 years ago

      We have an indoor rabbit who has a cage (for when we're gone)...we like letting her loose around our small apartment when we're home, but she pees everywhere...What's the best way to potty train while she's still young. Is it possible we should keep her penned more and then when we do let her out keep her in a smaller area still where the little box is VERY obvious? HELP!

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      amy 8 years ago

      i have an outdoor rabbit,

      my rabbit is in a hutch that has the dorr kept open all day and grass to run around on, it has freedom, shelter and a safe place to go whenever he feels threatened, i belive rabbits love running round in the grass, that's what they do

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      PixiBunni 9 years ago

      A binky is a rabbits way of expressing that they're happy. They run, jump into the air and kick their back legs into a semi flip. Watch a video on youtube if you're still confused. In the wild rabbits use this technique to get away from predators, or whilst playing with other bunnies. Binky's are a lot of fun to watch, and it's quite amusing watching them binky all morning long, then flop over as if they've had a long hard day. :) hope I helped.

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      alana 9 years ago

      what does binkies mean? ive seen it on a lot of bunny websites but dont know the meaning of the word can anyone help?

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      Raych (pixibunni) 9 years ago

      I’ve had a fascination with bunnies since I was practically born, but I got a dog in my childhood.

      I got a bunny August 2007 she came up to me in the cage and tried to kiss my hand, I just had to beg and my fiancé’s mother bought me her. After 3 months of my fiancé thinking her a boy she was named Cena after the wrestler, when the bunny first flopped on the rug we got a shock as we saw her little black nipples. So we named her Dawn. She has always lived in our bedroom with us and the only hassle we’ve had is her getting under the bed and chewing things under. Now she doesn’t chew anything but the paper balls we make and anything cardboard lying around. Rabbit’s aren’t necessarily as destructive as you might think, given the right amount of attention and guidance rabbits can be more houses trained than your average cat or dog. Speaking from someone who used to own a dog (jack Russell) I found it much much easier to train the bunny; it was as if she already knew what to do.

      I currently have a strike system with her. If she does something like try and crawl underneath the TV set I say “Strike 1 Dawnie” and she will come over and apologise by a kiss or a cuddle. She hates doing things wrong and despite a little rebellion (which is normal in a teenage/un spayed) bunny she is very eager to please me and my partner. She binkies everywhere and mostly has free run of the house. In her whole one year and a bit of living here she’s only ever chewed through one unplugged wire whilst she was under the bed.

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      Nadine 9 years ago

      so true...I have had my bunny living inside ever since I got him, and he is 8 years old now. Taking care of them properly is so much easier when they live inside. Besides, they really are very clean animals and as soon as you have them potty-trained even more. Those 8 years I had my bunny living inside, we both became best friends and it so amazing to see how much such a little bunny can actually understand and learn. It never gets boring with im around :-)

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      Bunniez 9 years ago

      Actually, this hub says exactly the opposite, ?????. But leaving comments without reading things first is so much more fun than all that boring reading and understanding, so I shan't begrudge you it. :)

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      ?????? 9 years ago

      you think that buunys should be out side just because they are wild animales well you are wrong bunny rabbits are cute so they should not be out side by??????