House Rabbit Society

I was wondering about the House Rabbit Society. I have a book of theirs here that I got years ago when I had a lop. A vet recommended it after giving me attitude about my bunny living outside in a hutch. I haven't thought about it much since, but now this whole house rabbit question is occupying me quite a lot. My bunnies are currently in a sort of outdoor room, a laundry room to be exact. It's mostly enclosed, but has screened-in windows. I like having them there because they are so easy to hang out with, bring inside, and generally observe. But soon, I'll probably build rabbit housing outside. My thought was to rotate them in and out, but I've also heard that they are not crazy about their housing being disrupted, so I still have plenty to learn and consider.

I am crossing my fingers that Cosset is not bred right now. I've learned that although her baby that she was living with might be able to breed, it's not super likely. Whew!

I see on Ravelry groups and elsewhere the divide between rabbit rescuers and hobby breeders. Angora experts who would be happy to help out shelters are denied rabbits to foster because they do outdoor housing. This just seems whack to me, but I'm interested because I'm so used to this debate occurring with dogs. But rabbits? I'd really like to leave behind my visceral response and consider all sides of this debate equally for the time being. I have lots of thoughts about all this, one of which is whether it would be in the best interests of chickens to live inside too. With the explosion in popularity of urban chickens, is there a parallel movement in chicken rescue?

Back to the House Rabbit Society. Here is part of their stated philosophy:

Domestic rabbits are not the product of natural selection, but rather of human interference by means of breeding programs, and the product is a human-dependent animal who needs protection. It is therefore a human responsibility that these animals be cared for in a manner appropriate to their needs.

Ok, that I totally get, as with any domesticated species. But then they go on:

It is in the best interest of domestic rabbits to be neutered/spayed, to live in human housing where supervision and protection are provided, and to be treated for illnesses by veterinarians.

By "human housing," I assume they mean indoors since that seems to be their MO. But even if they granted that most of these conditions could be met outdoors, their spay/neuter mandate still precludes raising rabbits. Why exactly is it better for rabbits to live in the house? And why exactly is rabbit farming (for wool, let's just stick with that for now) necessarily bad for rabbits?

I hope people will comment and shed light on this for me!


  1. Hey Jere, I don't have a good answer for you. I did one time meet a person who said her pet angora lived in the house and she lost 2 furnaces from the build up of hair. YIKES! I think she gave up on having a bun in the house after that!

    It sounds like it would be good to keep it simple with your herd if you really want to enjoy them...that way having them in and out would be easy to do. A mild climate will make that easier to accomplish. Personally I don't think your set up is a "mortal sin" :-) as you describe it. In fact, it sounds like a very nice wabbit habitat enjoying all life has to offer. If they get accustomed to moving around it would not be a stressor for them...IMHO and so I won't sign a waiver! You can try it out and see how they do with it. Remember bunz are individuals too.

  2. House chickens - that's funny. I think a lot of people have chickens inside the house already but they're probably in the the freezer.

  3. Thanks for stopping by my blog!

    It's my understanding that Angora rabbits do better with cooler conditions, and that wouldn't be possible indoors. Just think about wearing a heavy fur coat all the time in a house that's heated to 75 degrees! Heat is their greatest enemy.

    My buns are doing great outside and I can't imagine moving them inside - the way their fur would get matted by being on carpet is enough to make me shudder :-) Of course, the climate here in the PNW is quite a bit milder than other places. They are protected from wind and rain and seem happy enough. I put them out on the lawn in enclosures whenever weather permits so they can get their feet in the dirt, but I wouldn't bring them inside.

  4. thanks all. the room they are in now is an outdoor porch with screened-in windows, and it's plenty cool but protected from the elements. they seem to like it and be doing fine, but my hub is supposed to be building me a proper rabbitry this week! i've been looking at tons of rabbitry designs, and we've decided on the 36x36 hanging cages all on one level, with a worm farming venture below (i'm excited about that, too!)

    denise, we have had to replace the heater coil in our furnace three times due to dog hair. it's just ridiculous. between that and the cost of propane, we don't use one any more. this winter has been woodstove all the way. i thought would turn out to be a huge pain but it's really quite nice.

    cat, that's a great point and a super response to the house rabbit people. what can anyone say if it is best for the rabbit? it's crazy, but i've seen dog rescue people insist on indoor housing even for great pyrenees.

    fred, we laugh now about house chickens, but just wait and see.