Can Domestic Rabbits Survive in the Wild?

Rabbits are one of the most adorable and loving pets that you can bring to your home.

They are exceptionally social, low maintenance, and offer you great companionship.

However, it is important to realize that rabbits do come with their own set of responsibilities, just like all other pets.

We often come across people considering letting their bunnies go off into the wild because they can’t care for them anymore.

This is the worst thing you could do to these precious little creatures. Let us tell you why.

Can Your Pet Rabbits Survive in the Wild?

No, your pet rabbit is highly unlikely to survive in the wild.

With the odds stacked high against them, domestic bunnies can’t survive in the wild, no matter how strongly you may think otherwise.

This is because pet rabbits have spent their lives indoors and simply do not have the instincts needed to survive in the wild.

Your domestic bunnies don’t have specially developed bodies the way feral rabbits do.

Instead, they are bred to look pretty and live well inside safe and warm homes. They have no knowledge of how to dodge predators, avoid traffic or even find food!

Generations worth of domestication has had the same effect on rabbits as cats and dogs.

The bunnies you bring home from the pet store or (preferably) adopt from the local shelter lack the sharp senses needed to survive in the wild.

Their brains simply don’t detect dangers and respond to them quickly the way a feral rabbit’s brain would.

Unfortunately, despite tons of research proving otherwise, former rabbit breeders and owners still think it’s okay to release their animals into the wild. 

This practice is illegal in most states and guarantees a cruel death for the bunnies under your care.

5 Compelling Reasosn to Not Abandon Domestic Rabbits in the Wild

One of the most important things to understand here is that only the European rabbit genus has been domesticated as pets.

Even though we see a large variety of bunnies in different coat colors, sizes, and body shapes, they all come from the same European descendants.

This means that all pet rabbits have a certain set of genes that they carry.

More often than not, these genes haven’t adapted to surviving in the wild like other species of rabbits have.

Let’s take the Eastern cottontail rabbits as an example. These bunnies are known for their cunning minds and sharp outdoor skills that keep them safe from predators.

On the other hand, our domesticated European rabbits have only been bred for beauty and social skills.

These rabbits have been kept as pets since the time of the Romans.

Additionally, selective breeding has further resulted in their genes expressing a better quality of fur and improved appearances instead of sharp instincts.

Therefore, your domesticated rabbits simply don’t have the skill set needed to survive in the wild.

Here are some other reasons why releasing your bunnies in the wild is a terrible idea.

Domestic Rabbits have Almost Zero Survival Instincts

It is important for rabbit owners to realize that their bunnies have spent all their lives indoors. And being a nice pet owner, you have also tried hard to make sure they get all the food and comfort they deserve.

Just like you couldn’t survive a day out in the wilderness without food, water, and your phone, your rabbits are no different.

They have spent all their lives inside a warm and loving home; expecting them to live out the rest of their lives in the wild is just being overly optimistic.

Domesticated rabbits have no survival skills needed to make it in the wild. Instead, they are loving, social, and less skittish than their undomesticated counterparts.

There are Numerous Wild Predators to Hunt Them Down

Your rabbits are nowhere near the top of the food chain, and it’s only inevitable that they will be hunted down by predators.

Nobody wants to think of their little bunnies being torn apart by vicious predators. Unfortunately, that is exactly what will happen if they are left outdoors.

While feral rabbits have exceptional abilities to dodge predators and hide away safely, your sparkling white rabbit will hardly be able to achieve that.

Wild rabbits are usually dirty brown in color and don’t stick out like a sore thumb, but your bunnies will.

There are hundreds of animals that can feed on your rabbits, including dogs, coyotes, foxes, and even birds like owls and hawks.

Domestic Rabbits are Not Equipped to Find Food in Wild

Come nightfall; if your rabbit hasn’t been hunted down already, they will start getting hungry.

Since they have been fed by humans all their lives, domesticated rabbits do not know how to find their own food.

Out in the wild, there are no rabbit pellets or free hay lying around to be chewed up.

While feral rabbits are excellent at finding food sources, your pet bunnies will fail miserably at this.

Left hungry and scared, their chances of being caught by predators further increase.

Domestic Rabbits have Bright Coats (difficult to hide)

The stunning and brightly colored coats of your pet rabbits can easily cause their demise in the wild.

This is because these coats make them significantly easier to spot, and therefore hunt down.

They won’t be able to camouflage well into the dirt and debris.

Moreover, your pet rabbits don’t understand the concept of predators, and neither do they see themselves as prey.

They are likely to be curious about the predators and not hide from them. This is especially true if they were raised in a multi-pet home.

They are not prepared for sudden temperature change

Weather in the wild can change quickly and dramatically. It could be hot a sunny a minute ago and then it could suddenly be raining and cold.

Rabbits who have lived in the wild have adapted to withstand extreme weather conditions.

Unfortunately, your domesticated bunny always had the benefit of you making sure the temperature is constant to keep their place nice and cozy.

Also read: Do Ferrets and Rabbits Get Along?

What Happens If Your Domestic Rabbits Do Survive

Even though the situation is quite hopeless against your domestic rabbits, we can’t ignore the slim chance that they do survive.

Domestic rabbits surviving in the wild can result in an ecological disaster for the community.

This is because rabbits reproduce frequently and quickly. Soon enough, your bunny will mate and start a colony.

There will be a sudden increase in the rabbit colony of your local environment.

This directly affects all of the wildlife that already resides in this area. Your local environment control will have to spend hundreds of dollars to fix this mess.

Measures to Ensure Your Rabbits Don’t Escape

Now that we know why it’s a terrible idea to release domestic rabbits out into the wild let’s consider this from another aspect.

What if your naughty little bunny manages to escape outdoors behind your back?

Cats aren’t the only pets with a pesky habit of dashing for the door as soon as you open it. Your bunnies might try this escape endeavor too.

Unfortunately, whether you release rabbits into the wild willingly or they escape of their own accord, the result will be the same.

Your rabbits cannot survive in the wild, so you should take any measures possible to keep them indoors.

Below, we have mentioned some super simple and easy things you can do to effectively keep your rabbits safe and sound. Let’s have a look!

Keep Them Indoors

People often think that it’s better to keep their rabbits in outdoor hatches to mimic their ‘natural habitat.

But the important thing to understand here is that your domestic bunny’s natural habitat is your home.

Keeping them in rabbit enclosures or cages outside increases their chances of escaping into the wild.

Rabbits are notorious for chewing through parts of their enclosure.

Their tiny, flexible bodies can also squeeze out through small holes and attain ‘freedom.’

Ensure They Stay Away from Doors

You can put extra barriers, baby gates, and other means of fencing to keep your bunnies indoors when you open the main house door.

Leash Train Them for Better Control

Rabbit owners often take their bunnies outdoors to make sure they can enjoy the sun and hop about on the grass.

If you prefer taking your rabbits to the backyard or your front lawn, we recommend leash training them beforehand.

When you leash train your bunnies, you can easily let them out without having to watch their every step.

Your bunnies will be safer outside, and you will be more at ease as well!

Walking on a leash is also quite beneficial for rabbits as it allows them more freedom to roam about and explore.

This mental and physical stimulation is exactly what they need to lead happy, healthy lives.

Outdoor Time Should Be Secured

If you enjoy taking your rabbits out to the yard for some playtime, and they aren’t taking too well to leash training, there’s another thing you can do.

Before you take your bunnies outside, make sure the outdoors area is fully secure, and there is no way for them to escape.

Look for any holes in the fences and block them. Also, close any other escape routes and pay close attention to your bunnies.

This will help keep these escape artists safe and secure while they enjoy the outdoors time.

Microchip Your Bunnies

Lastly, if you still think there is a chance your bunny could escape, the best thing to do is microchipping them.

You can easily get your rabbits microchipped at the vets.

It is an affordable procedure that helps you locate your bunnies if they were to ever escape or get lost. You will easily be reunited with your pet rabbit in no time!

Some Last Words

In the end, it is important to further emphasize the importance of never abandoning your pets into the wild.

No matter if you have bunnies, cats, or any other animal companion, your home is their home, and they simply cannot survive outdoors.

Not only do domesticated animals not have the instincts and adapted bodies needed to survive, but they will also undergo excessive stress in the wild.

Your bunnies won’t be able to understand where they are or why they were left there. They are used to living with you in your shared home and simply cannot survive without it.

If you find yourself no longer able to care for your rabbits, it is best to surrender them to a shelter.

You can also ask your friends and family to see if anybody would be interested in adopting them.

Your last option should be to sell them off to someone who is interested in buying rabbits as pets.

Make sure they will take good care of your bunnies and have all of the resources needed for the animals to enjoy a good quality of life. All the best!

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