Wild rabbits can survive winter outdoors because they grow thick fur before winter. The fur keeps them warm, but rabbits also burrow during winter to stay dry. Overall, rabbits can survive winters that go as low as 20 degrees Fahrenheit. However, anything below 20degrees Fahrenheit can lead to hypothermia in wild rabbits.
Since pet rabbits have not been in the wild, pet owners need to ensure that cages are protected against harsh weather elements. A pet rabbit can’t survive low temperatures like wild rabbits because they don’t have the survival skills.
This article will inform you on how to keep your rabbit dry and warm during winter. Also, you will learn the best care tips to keep a cage clean and prevent diseases. Let’s begin by exploring how wild rabbits survive winters.
How Do Wild Rabbits Survive Winter Outside?
In addition to developing a thick layer of fur before winter, rabbits burrow to stay dry and warm. Rabbits dig holes in well-scouted areas to ensure that they survive winter in a comfortable habitat. The hole has three walls and an opening to provide fresh air, which is vital for the survival of rabbits.
However, if water seeps into the hole during winter, the rabbit could die out of sickness or hypothermia. Most wild rabbits survive winter outdoors, and only a small population dies when it is cold.
Ways to Keep Your Pet Rabbit Warm
Most pet rabbit owners keep the hutches outdoors, and some cannot bring a cage indoors during winter. There are several ways to keep your rabbit warm without bringing your rabbit indoors.
Cover the Hutch
It would be best to cover the cage completely on the open sides except for the front with a weather-resistant material. You can use transparent plastic covers and cover the front side halfway during the day.
Rabbits need fresh air to thrive, and that is why you must never cover all sides completely. You can cover the front side and leave a small opening at night to keep the cage warm.
Alternatively, you can buy hutch covers that are designed for the winter season. They will be easier to fit over a hutch. You don’t have to spend a lot of money to find a durable hutch cover online or at your local pet store.
While covering a hutch, turn it so that it faces away from the direction of the wind. Leaving the cage facing the wind will expose your pet to low temperatures.
You also move it to a location with some cover to reduce the direct exposure of the cage to cold winds. Overall, ensure that the cage is well insulated against water, snow, and wind.
Raise the Hutch
Raising a hutch can reduce the odds of water seeping into the habitat. It also ensures that the hutch isn’t lying on the freezing ground. Cold ground can damage materials like wood and metal. Also, metal can transmit the cold from the ground into the cage and reduce the overall warmth.
You can place the hutch on two parallel beams mounted in stones or bricks. Alternatively, you can place bricks on each corner of the hutch to lift it a few inches. Ensure everything is balanced so that the hutch doesn’t topple.
Change Floor Covering Often
Rabbit hutches have hay, straw, newspapers, or other soft materials to keep the pet warm and comfortable. Change the covering often so that it doesn’t get wet due to urine and fecal matter. Take time to clean the hutch once a week and put in clean straw or hay in it. Rabbits are clean creatures, but it is essential to take extra care during winter.
Rabbits can grow sick because of living in unsanitary conditions or breathing in foul air. Therefore, keeping the floor dry will reduce the dampness in the habitat while keeping the place clean in the winter seasons.
Take the Hutch Indoors
You can take the hutch indoors if you are not using your garage or have a shed. Never place a hutch in a garage that is in use. The carbon monoxide emitted by cars is toxic to rabbits and can lead to illness.
Ensure the indoor area is ventilated, and you can turn on the thermostat to keep the place warm. However, don’t make it too warm that your rabbit pet will be uncomfortable—rabbits like an ideal temperature of 60 degrees Fahrenheit.
Provide Warm Water
Rabbits can’t eat without water, and water freezes easily outdoors in winter. You should provide warm water every two days or as often as you can. Wash the water bowls and bottles before refilling them. Do the same for the feed bowls to ensure no bacteria in or on the feeding equipment.
You can opt to use feeding bottles for water in winter. Buy insulators to keep the water warm for longer when your pet rabbit is outside in winter. You will still have to check the bottles every other day to ensure adequate water in the bottles.
Rabbits will be eating more in winter to generate warmth when staying outdoors. Therefore, you can increase the portion sizes by a third or half to ensure that the animal gets adequate fuel. You can check the rabbit to ensure that the food doesn’t end too early between feeding times.
How much you adjust the food portions will depend on the breed and size of your rabbit. Larger rabbits will require more food than smaller ones. Don’t forget to adjust the water supply accordingly.
Do Rabbits Need Exercise in Winter?
Exercise is essential for all creatures all year round, and rabbits are no exception. It would help if you found a way for your rabbit to exercise during winter. It can be in an open fenced place or using toys in the hutch to motivate the rabbit to play. Find out ideas for exercising rabbits in winter to ensure your pet stays in optimum shape.
Rabbits can live outside in winter, but you will need a few things to ensure your pet stays warm during winter. Pet rabbits don’t have adaption features that wild rabbits have, and it is up to the owner to compensate for what the rabbit lacks.
The priority should be keeping a rabbit warm in winter and ensuring that the hutch stays clean all the time. After that, you have to ensure that the pet has adequate warm water to drink and stay hydrated. Overall, it is imperative to keep the hutch as dry as possible because dampness is as bad as the cold.
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