Too often, individuals complain that a rabbit is a "boring" pet. Usually the fault lies not with the rabbit, but with an owner who keeps the it in a small hutch outside the house. Keeping a pet rabbit in the house is much more likely to result in a happy and entertaining relationship between human and rabbit.
Rabbits can be a great confidant in times of need. Study after study has shown that petting an animal can be therapeutic and healthful for children, adults and senior citizens. A rabbit can be very affectionate with a human who is patient, provides treats and is willing to come down to the rabbit's level.The first reason for keeping your rabbit inside as part of your family is to fulfill companionship needs for both you and your rabbit. Rabbits are social animals. They are accustomed to living in groups. If you cannot house your rabbit inside as part of your family group, think seriously about not getting a rabbit as a pet. It is hardly fair to the rabbit and more work for you.
Many individuals will argue that is not natural for a rabbit to live in the house. Others argue that it is not natural for a rabbit to spend a lifetime in a small (compared to the great outdoors) hutch. Since humans have taken upon themselves the responsibility to tame rabbits, human beings need to be responsible to provide the best and safest home possible.
Statistics show that rabbits in the wild have an average lifespan of one or two years. Rabbits living inside the house can live eight to twelve years and there have been reports of house rabbits living several years past twelve.
Rabbits living in back yards have life spans closer to that of wild rabbits. Owners are sometimes neglectful or turn rabbits into a shelter or out in a field. The domestic rabbit does not know how to find food, shelter and protection in the "wild" field or street and will soon die. Additional dangers to rabbits living outside in a hutch include other animals and the weather.
Other Animals - Dogs and cats roaming the neighborhood are one of the greatest dangers to hutch rabbits. Dogs and cats who may be friendly with rabbits and other animals that live inside "their homes" and "their packs" may resort to an instinctual predatory behavior when they wander the neighborhood.
Consider a case reported in the October 30, 1992 Salt Lake Tribune. Ginger, a neighboring cocker spaniel, chased Foo-Foo, a rabbit, all over the yard and into a tunnel that Foo-Foo had created. An Animal Control Officer "wiggled into the enlarged rabbit burrow and tried to pull Ginger out. When he failed, Mr. Wood cleared dirt from around her body. Instead of backing out, the dog tried to crawl farther into the den - still intent on having Foo-Foo for a snack."
Although dogs and cats can learn to live peaceably and happily with rabbits, rabbits are in danger with unfamiliar animals and in unsupervised situations. Elizabeth TeSelle of the House Rabbit Society states, "Greta and Ellie, our dogs, would not hestitate to chase a wild rabbit if given the opportunity, and before she met me, my cat Ebony killed for a living, but they all seem to understand readily that Jeremy, Melissa and Charlie, our rabbits, are in a different class."
Any animal attack is considered dangerous. Even when the rabbit appears to be fine, puncture wounds can be hidden under the fur. The trauma of attack could cause extreme changes in your rabbit's blood pressure (shock) that could lead to death. In addition, the House Rabbit Society reports several cases of rabbits dying from the shock produced after just hearing a dog bark and sensing the predator's presence.