Keeping Rabbits Warm. Information and resources about how to keep rabbits warm in the winter.
Bunnies are built to survive cold temperatures. In the wild, rabbits don’t hibernate in the winter. Instead, their thick fur and active lifestyles allow them to stay warm in the freezing months. That said, bunnies are most comfortable in temperatures around 60 degrees Fahrenheit: they can do it, but it’s hardly cozy to live outside on a below-zero night. Since we as pet owners want to give our bunnies as comfortable lives as possible, here are a few things you can do to help keep your rabbits warm.
Protection from the Winter Elements
If you’re dry and snuggled in a cozy corner, that’s one thing. You can stand pretty cold temps. But if you’re wet and the wind is blowing across your fur, that’s another story. If you house rabbits outside in the winter, you must take every care to keep them out of the wind and the rain. Situate your hutch against a house or a barn that blocks wind, and make sure the sides of the hutch are covered well so no rain or snow can blow in.
Straw is a Great Rabbit Insulator
Straw, even more than hay, is one of the most useful items for keeping a rabbit warm in the winter. You can pack straw bales around your hutch to provide insulation. Pack a wooden nestbox with straw and offer this to your bunny. Some bunnies will use a nestbox; others will not. If your rabbit will not, simply pack his cage floor with straw. You will have to change the straw every one or two days, because it soils quickly.
Keeping Baby Rabbits Warm
Adult rabbits can tolerate cold temps remarkably well. However, baby rabbits are born furless and must stay nearly 100 degrees Fahrenheit for the first ten days of their lives. If the surrounding air temperature is above 50 degrees, babies can usually stay warm enough if they stay in a fur-lined nest and have a littermate to snuggle with. Check babies often, because any one that strays from the nest will quickly die of exposure. It is best to take the doe and the babies in the house if you breed rabbits in cold weather.
Caution: Electrical Rabbit Warmers
Pet suppliers offer several electrical devises to help keep small animals warm. You can find warming rocks intended for reptiles, heated water bottles or crocks, heat lamps, and metal heating pads known as nestbox warmers. However, these should be used with great caution. First, rabbits often don’t choose to use them. Second, the risk of fire or electrical shock is usually not worth the small benefits that these products offer. Rabbits are gnawers. They chew on almost everything. Even though some of these products have spring-protected cords, rabbits can often chew through them. Plus, when used outside, electrical products can short-out or cause fire when they get wet. This author once nearly lost her bunnies and wooden hutch to an electric nestbox warmer that started a fire in some straw.
And by the way—don’t try to give your bunny a sweater. If you offer him a sweater, the next day he will present you with a pile of chewed fluff.
See Also our Article on: Keeping Rabbits Cool
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