Winter Safety Tips for Rabbits
Rabbits housed outdoors often do very well in cold weather, but they need some extra care and modifications to the hutch. Rabbits do not hibernate, so they will maintain their normal routines and behaviors all year long. Continue reading for tips on keeping your indoor and outdoor rabbits happy and healthy during the winter.
This article was written by a FirstVet vet
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Winter Considerations for Indoor Rabbits
Be sure the cage is not in front of a window as this can be drafty and will not be as warm as the rest of the house.
Do not use electric heater pads for pets. These can get too hot and cause serious burns. There is also a risk of electric burns in the mouth and electrocution if they chew on the power cord.
Rabbits housed indoors will not have many concerns during the winter months. Just be sure they cannot get burned by the heater or radiator when they are out exploring.
Winter Considerations for Outdoor Rabbits
Rabbits housed outdoors need more food during the winter months, so be sure to increase their rations. Monitor for excess weight gain and reduce the food if needed. Have plenty of hay available at all times to eat and snuggle up in!
The water bowls and bottles can freeze outdoors, so be sure to replace the water at least twice daily. You never want to deprive your rabbit of water. You can also wrap the bottle in towels or pipe covering to help prevent it from freezing. Always check the water bottle spout since it can freeze before all the water in the bottle does.
Most hutches are made of wood and wires, are elevated off the ground, and have a relatively open feel. When it is cold and windy, use cardboard, plastic, or plexiglass to cover most of the hutch. Do not completely enclose the hutch since your bunny still needs sunlight and good airflow/circulation. Also, be sure to check the roof for any leaks and repair them if necessary.
Add more hay, straw, or other bedding to keep your rabbit warm. Be sure this is changed at least twice weekly.
The hutch should have a small, enclosed house for your rabbit to go into for privacy, warmth, and to hide if they get scared.
Your bunny still needs time each day to get exercise. You can take her inside, into the garage or shed, or into a larger enclosed area in the yard like the patio for time to hop around.
Outdoor rabbits (and to a lesser extent indoor bunnies) develop a thick winter coat. You will need to brush them regularly to prevent matting.
Clean the litter box at least once daily and replace the bedding in the hutch every 2 to 3 days at least.
Move Indoors or to the Garage
If the temperature is going to be below freezing for long, you can move your rabbit and the hutch into the garage. This keeps them dry, reduces drafts, and keeps them warmer.
Watch Their Ears!
Rabbits can get frostbite and the ears are typically the first place to be affected. Bring them indoors and to the vet if this occurs.
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