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The Great Indoor Rabbit Debate
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.