Keeping Rabbits Cool. Information and resources about how to keep rabbits cool in the summer.
The hot, muggy summer is here. You don’t even want to check the temp on the weather channel. The sun has turned your world into a greenhouse. The humidity is hard to breathe. All you ask for is a shady spot to sit down, a cool drink, and a breeze to lift the heat off your forehead.
Instead of those luxuries, imagine putting on a fur coat.
That’s what it’s like to be a rabbit. Bunnies are built with the incredible ability to keep warm in cold temperatures. In the wild they don’t hibernate over winter, but come out to play and feed even on sub-zero nights. But they are poorly equipped to handle hot climates. If you are going to raise rabbits in an area where it reaches over 85* Fahrenheit in the summer, you need to prepare to help your bunnies keep cool through the hot weather.
Prevention is key. Once a rabbit has suffered heat stroke, there’s not a lot you can do to help it recover. It’s much better to prevent the condition. Here are some ways to keep rabbits cool:
Proper Rabbit Housing
If your rabbits are outside in a hutch, you must place the hutch in full shade. Even if the rabbits inside aren’t exposed, the sun beating on the hutch roof will make a very unpleasant atmosphere for your bunny. If necessary, make your hutch mobile so it can be moved from place to place to stay in the shade throughout the day. Also make sure that the hutch allows good airflow. This is essential.
If your rabbits are in a barn, you have several options. Many breeders use air conditioning, but for those that can’t afford it, there are some good alternatives. Airflow is the most important thing. You should have a number of fans, preferably located near the ceiling, to circulate the air in the barn. Some breeders run a sprinkler on the roof, since water carries away heat when it evaporates. If your climate is not too humid already, you can use a misting system inside the barn, as long as you have good airflow to evaporate the mist.
Enhance Rabbits’ Natural Cooling System
The best way to keep rabbits cool is to give their internal cooling system the chance to work properly. You can place frozen water bottles and ceramic tiles in the cage, which help some, but their effectiveness is limited. Eighty percent of a rabbit’s heat loss occurs though its breathing. Breathing carries water in the body to the nose, where it evaporates and takes heat with it. Blood is also carried to the ears, where there is no fur and it can cool easier. Both of these systems need excellent airflow to work properly.
And they need water. A constant supply of fresh water is essential to keeping rabbits safe in the heat. The water does not need to be cold; in fact, it’s better if it’s room temperature. If your rabbit has a water bottle, you should change it at least once a day and check it often to make sure it has not run empty. If it has a water crock, you should change it at least twice a day.
Signs of Heat Stroke in Rabbits
A rabbit that is suffering from heat stroke, or near it, will be panting hard and showing a wet muzzle. In advanced cases, the nostrils and mouth will be blue or bloody-colored. A rabbit suffering from stroke needs to be handled gently. You can dip it in lukewarm (not cold) water, move it to an area with excellent airflow, and rub ice on its ears in an effort to help it recover. However, it’s important to not overly stress this bunny with too much handling.
See Also our Article on: Keeping Rabbits Warm
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