You are here:

Rabbits/Transitioning Outdoor free range bunny to house bunny



Cassanova is our BEW netherland Dwarf bunny. He is a fun little character and loves exploring and getting amongst bushes in our garden. He often gets dirty and sometimes an eye might get a bit gunky for a day or two.  He loves being outside.

Probably a week ago I noticed his right eye was puffy  gunky and  closed over.  I managed to catch him the next morning and brought him into the bathroom where i set up newspaper straw etc. in the bath tub. I cleaned his eye with saline, but still no improvement.  It took me a couple of more days before I could catch our second bunny Boston , who is a Brown-gray agouti Standard chinchilla cross.  I hope she has been helping his eye by grooming him regularly.  It opened this morning prior to taking him to the vet for an opinion. his eye was covered in a white sheet/film.  she thinks ulcer cornea and has given us eye cream antibiotics, oral antiinflamatory and oral antibiotics.

I have read from another answered question on this site about not putting such a rabbit back outside.

We used to have Boston inside for her first year, but we found she weed too often in places other than her litter box and it got really hard protecting all the electrical cables in the house from chewing...
Any suggestions on how we could transition Boston and Cassanova to house bunnies successfully?
Sorry for long question.
Thanks vey much,

ANSWER: Dear Sharon,

Since the problem with having her inside was litterbox habits, then the first step is to have both bunnies spayed so you can properly train them.  This will also eliminate their high risk of uterine cancer, which is common in unspayed female rabbits.  Please see:

Once the girls are spayed and recovered, use the tips here to bring them inside.  There's no worry about "transition", really.  You can still let them play outside (much safer if supervised!), but make sure they come in at dusk.  Easy to get them inside if you have a treat ready, such as their daily salad greens:

I'm betting they will be very happy to be indoor bunnies, especially if they have supervised play time outside when possible.

Hope this helps.


---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------

Thanks for your answer.  They are both spayed already.  They were done more than a year ago.
They seem to wee anywhere but the litter box.

Dear Sharon,

Okay, time for Plan B!

Here are some excellent sources with tips on litterbox training.  Even the most stubborn bunnies will usually respond to these protocols, and I hope they will work for your girls, too.

I hope this helps!




All Answers

Answers by Expert:

Ask Experts


Dana Krempels, Ph.D.


I've lived with companion rabbits for more than 35 years, and consider them members of my family. I can answer any questions about the biology and health of rabbits, from the commonplace to the unusual. But please note:

RULE #1:

Find a rabbit vet at for immediate help, and don't risk your bunny's life by spending time asking questions online! If you can't get in touch with your vet, read these Emergency Sick Bunny Instructions.

If you have found a wild baby rabbit, please read these EMERGENCY INSTRUCTIONS FOR WILD BABY RABBITS and then use this link to FIND A LOCAL WILDLIFE REHABILITATOR who can give you the right advice.

RULE #2:
Help me help you! Please make your subject line informative if you have an urgent question. then LET ME KNOW IN THE SUBJECT LINE so I can give your question highest priority over non-urgent questions. If you don't do this, then I can't guarantee timely assistance!

For all the best, most accurate rabbit health, care and behavior information, visit The House Rabbit Society.


I have been rescuing and rehabilitating domestic and wild rabbits for about 30 years. I have written articles for many rabbit rescue publications, as well as for the veterinary journal, Exotic DVM. I own EtherBun, the internet's largest listserve dedicated to health, care, and behavior of domestic rabbits.

Houserabbit Adoption, Rescue, and Education, Inc. (H.A.R.E., Inc.) president National House Rabbit Society (Board member)

Exotic DVM
Warren Peace (Journal of the House Rabbit Society of Miami)
Various newsletters of the House Rabbit Society, nationwide

Ph.D - Biology
B.S. - Biology
B.A. - English

Awards and Honors
Lightspan Academic Excellence Award for web site on rabbit health and biology

©2017 All rights reserved.