Keep rabbits safe in the cold winter months.Unfortunately rabbits are one of the most neglected domestic pets and are often at high risk in the winter months.
When cold weather strikes, no matter for how long, rabbits can suffer unnecessarily. With just a little knowledge and care, you can keep rabbits safe and avoid any suffering.
In cold weather rabbits are at risk more than most domestic pets.
If kept outdoors it is wrong to assume their furry coats will keep them warm.
In the wild rabbits retreat to their burrows where it is warmer, out of draughts and they are able to snuggle against the other rabbits for warmth .
You can see how the rabbits are safe from cold and draughts with the young keeping together for warmth
Obviously if temperatures drop and the rabbit is outdoors, then the best course of action is to bring the rabbit and its hutch indoors, until the temperatures rise. If you can’t bring the rabbit indoors then moving the hutch into an unused garage or outhouse etc will make a big difference. But please make sure that there are windows or some form of daylight.
If you really can’t move the hutch indoors, to an outhouse or shed etc, then rainproof covers will help to insulate the hutch, helps to keep rabbits safe and out of draughts and cold, but make sure there is ventilation for the rabbit.
There should be fresh dry bedding hay so the rabbit can snuggle down, hay and food to eat and as usual fresh water which is always important for rabbits. Two rabbits together will keep each other warm. Obviously, it should be added that rabbits kept together must be neutered.
If the hutch is kept outside make sure water bottles are wrapped in insulation, so the water does not freeze. Bubble wrap is good for this.
Cover hutches in old blankets but again, do make sure there is enough ventilation,
Also please remember that rabbits still need exercise, even when it is very cold.
It should be noted that moving a rabbit to a garage, where there are car or bike fumes etc, is very dangerous for the rabbit and far from safe.
There are signs that can show you if your rabbit is struggling with the cold temperatures. Such signs can be weight loss; the rabbit may stop eating or may seem/is miserable, there may be respiratory/breathing problems.
Hutches are not a natural environment for a rabbit. The origins of hutches for rabbits came from when rabbits were kept in hutches before being killed/slaughtered for meat and it seems this tradition of keeping rabbits in hutches has stuck. So if the rabbit is contained in a hutch please make sure there is adequate warmth and insulation.
If you think about it rabbits naturally need to jump, run graze and dig whereas in a hutch all they can do is sit, so a run and exercise is always good.
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