The Ultimate Free Range Bunny Experiment

The rabbit colony door was open, an older male was sitting nearby, and even though I knew it was probably a bad idea I scooped him up and tossed him out anyway. I don’t know who was more surprised, me or Little Jack (aptly named for his resemblance to his rabbit father Jack Nicholson). He looked at me, I looked at him, and neither of us moved. I for sure thought he was going to bolt into the woods and that would be that but instead he sat and stared at me.

I threw him some hay and he nibbled happily while everyone else got their breakfast.

In the spirit of the buddy system I didn’t want Little Jack to be alone so I scooped up the other remaining male from the last litter and tossed him out too. A sweet brown dude who has since acquired the name of Wallace. (We don’t typically name the new rabbits since they’re usually sold to other families or become the honored guests at our dinner table if you catch my drift). The two of them sat together for a few minutes nibbling hay and then started to make their way to the treeline. They disappeared into the underbrush without a sound.

So long Little Jack and Wallace, it was nice knowing you!

Domesticated rabbits unleashed into the wilds of suburban America with neighborhood dogs and hawks?  Surely this was the worst idea ever and I’m an incredibly irresponsible animal owner.

A week later and they’re still here putzing around like they own the place.

In the raspberry patch…

Under the cars…

Next to the house…

In the front yard garden…

By the swing set…

Like I said, they act like little kings of the place now. Just yesterday I found them lounging on our patio first thing in the morning. Much to our surprise (and delight) our mornings and afternoons have become a rabbity Where’s Waldo. Watching them run around is far more entertaining than it should be. The way they hop and chase each other or flop over on their backs, we just can’t get enough. They’re hilarious!

Also surprisingly George has not attempted to eat either of them. The neighbors’ dogs have visited a time or two but Little Jack and Wallace seem to be smart enough to hide under the shed or the swing set when that happens. Same goes for when our resident pair of hawks flies by. For domesticated animals they’ve retained an impressive amount of their survival instincts.

The main problem now is thanks to their rabbity cuteness they’ve transformed from dinner options to pets. Catching them isn’t the issue but rather the fact they’ve both been given names. Peanut, Agapi, and I have so much fun looking for them in the mornings that we’d be sad to see them go. Odds are they’ll get picked off by the local wildlife (they are prey animals after all) but we’re not in any hurry to see them go.

Overall I’m surprised at how close they’ve stuck to home and how much fun it’s been observing them. They certainly eat far more fresh grass running free than in the colony. That being said I’m not about to turn all the other rabbits loose in the yard for a variety of reasons. The rabbits are safer in the colony and have minimal contact with wildlife which minimizes the chances of disease transmission and therefore makes their meat safer to consume. Not to mention it’s probably illegal to unleash 20+ non-indigenous animals of any kind into your backyard.

I’m curious, for all of you rabbit owners (both meat and pet alike), do any of you have experience with free range rabbits? Do they roam around your yard? Have you had any issues? Any funny stories to share? I’d love to hear about your experiences and I’ll be sure to keep you updated with any fun Little Jack and Wallace adventures of our own.

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