Did you know a rabbit’s fur stops shedding during fall in preparation for the cold months? On top of that, their coat grows thicker as winter progresses, giving them extra protection against the weather.
Does that mean we can leave our bunnies to their own devices during such a time? Not quite. The domesticated nature of these house pets will need some assistance to prevent them from getting sick.
On that note, let’s take a look at the different ways to keep rabbits warm in the winter.
While rabbits are generally adaptable to the cold, they could use an extra hand to fend off potential illnesses caused by the weather. Since domesticated bunnies are dependent on their owners, it’s only natural to help them prepare for winter.
Luckily, there are many quick and simple ways to keep them warm, whether they’re staying indoors or outdoors. Here are some of the best tips you can follow to protect your bunnies during winter:
When winter comes, it’s crucial to adjust the structure of your rabbit’s hutch to keep them safe from weather conditions. This involves adding layers of protection against cold winds and potential rains.
If your rabbit hutches are made from wood, they’ll be prone to mold as moisture traps due to rain. Not only will the rabbits get sick from this, but it’ll also weaken their shelter, causing it to fall apart eventually.
Your bunnies may also get hypothermia if they aren’t protected from the cold winds of winter. Additionally, gusts of wind can also tip over rabbit huts, especially if they aren’t reinforced enough.
Here are some useful methods you can use to weatherproof your rabbit’s home:
- Keep the hutches elevated from the ground
- Install slanted roofs to help drain water and snow efficiently
- Build a shelter around the hutch
- Anchor the hutches against a sturdy structure or building
- Cover the roof of the hutch with newspapers and blankets
If you don’t want to go through the trouble of reinforcing your rabbit hutches outside, you can always take your bunnies indoors. Of course, this only works if you have available space. Alternatively, you can rabbit-proof your room or house if you want them to roam freely.
These are a few of the best house rabbit-proofing tips we recommend:
- Cover the walls with clear plastic panels to prevent rabbits from chewing on the wallpaper
- Use furniture to block rabbits from cords and outlets
- Switch to low-pile carpets to reduce chewing temptation
- Avoid using long curtains that reach the floor
- Install stair gates to prevent injuries
Rabbit hutches can easily absorb cold temperatures if they aren’t insulated enough. As such, you’d want to upgrade their bedding and add necessary insulating elements.
A day or two before the winter season comes, line the hutch flooring with newspapers to keep the bed warm. Afterward, add extra dust-free hay, as you normally would, to generate more heat.
Straws are also good additions for trapping heat within the hutches. You can place them around the edges and inside the pile of hay. However, you must keep replacing them a few days after, in case your rabbits urinate on them.
Rabbits are naturally social creatures and are best paired with a companion or two. Keeping them in groups will provide enough socialization to keep them from feeling lonely and allow them to snuggle for extra warmth.
Of course, you must train them first since not all rabbits get along from the start. If they aren’t used to interacting with other rabbits, it’s best to start introducing them a few months before the winter season comes.
However, nothing beats socialization training that starts from birth. It’s the most efficient way to prepare rabbits for situations where being socially comfortable comes in handy.
It’s a natural response for rabbits to crave food more during winter. Since their bodies are trying to adapt to the cold, their energy consumption increases. That’s why it’s necessary to increase the amount of food you give to meet the requirements for keeping warm.
Each breed has varying needs for food intake. The best way to prepare a diet plan for your bunnies is by consulting a trusted vet.
They’ll be able to help you adjust how much hay, pellets, fruits, and vegetables to add per day in preparation for the cold season.
Similar to how rabbits need additional food during winter, water is also essential to keep their bodies adjusting to the cold. However, if you don’t regularly check their water bottles or dispensers, you might stumble upon them frozen.
Plastic water bottles are extra prone to freezing and tearing in the cold season, so it’s best to keep away from them or have plenty of stocks. You have to check a few times within a day if the containers are frozen.
Alternatively, you can use insulated water containers to decrease the chances of freezing.
Short but frequent sessions of physical activities during winter aren’t only beneficial to your rabbit’s health but also help keep them warm. Don’t succumb to the pressure of sweater weather by engaging in healthy indoor exercises with your little furballs.
The recommended exercise duration for bunnies each day is at least three hours. Try to split this into multiple sessions and work around that schedule.
You can let your rabbits run around indoors for a while or have them play with their favorite toys. Since they have increased food intake during winter, physical activity will help them avoid growing overweight.
As much as our little furballs fare well against the cold with their thick fur and padded feet, they still get a few chills. You’re likely to see them shiver with pale lips and gums at night, especially if their hutches aren’t protected from damp environments and strong winds.
Some breeds, like Satins and Netherland Dwarfs, are more weather hardy than other rabbit species. On average, bunnies can tolerate temperatures as low as 40°F or less, but it’s best not to test this limit.
At the end of the day, a rabbit’s weather tolerance depends on how you shelter, feed, and care for them.
One of the challenges of owning a rabbit is determining if they’re sick or not. Since most of these creatures tend to hide the symptoms as a defense mechanism to avoid showing signs of weakness, it can be hard to tell.
Rabbits can’t sweat like humans to regulate body heat, so they use their ears instead. While cold ears aren’t usually a cause for concern, they can also indicate an illness (fever or drop in body temperature), especially if paired with shivering, lethargy, or loss of appetite.
Rabbits are naturally gifted creatures capable of adapting to the cold season under the right conditions. The more you reinforce their outdoor hutches during winter, the better they can adjust to the weather.
However, if your rabbit’s accustomed to staying indoors for a while or since birth, they have a higher chance of getting sick when you let them stay out in the cold. As such, you must train them equally in both environments to boost their protection against weather conditions.
While some various pets and animals hibernate during winter to survive and conserve energy, rabbits aren’t one of them. Instead, they seek more food to compensate for their body’s adjustments to the cold temperatures.
Rabbits are active creatures year in and out, so you can expect to find a few wild ones running about in the snow looking for food sources.
They also dig underground burrows to protect themselves from predators since they’re easier to spot during winter due to the lack of vegetation. This method also helps keep them warm from the weather.
Rabbits are as social and adaptable as they’re adorable. It may seem like caring for one is a daunting task, but it’s actually quite fulfilling.
Yes, they can adjust to the winter, but the help of their master will be greatly appreciated. The weather conditions of the cold season can be harsh and unforgiving, so it’s best to keep a close eye on them.
It only takes a few shelter upgrades, diet adjustments, and extra TLC to keep our furry friends warm and cozy.
I have a bachelor’s degree in Film/Video/Media Studies, as well as an associates degree in Communications. I began producing videos and musical recordings nearly 15 years ago. I am a guitarist and bassist in Southwest MI and have been in a few different bands since 2009, and in 2012 I began building custom guitars and basses in my home workshop as well. When I’m home, I love spending time with my three pets (a dog, cat, and snake) and gardening in my backyard. I also like photographing wild birds, especially birds of prey.