Rabbits don’t do very well when they are exposed to either extreme heat or cold.
If you are going to keep your bunny outside, you’ll need to know how to properly care for them.
These tips can help you keep your pet happy and healthy through the colder months of the year.
Winter-proofing Your Rabbit’s Hutch
There are certain measures that you’ll want to take when it comes to winter-proofing your rabbit’s outdoor hutch, including:
- Make sure the hutch is at least two feet above the ground so it doesn’t get wet from rain or snow. This will go a long way towards keeping away the cold. This will also make it more difficult for predator to get to your rabbit.
- Push the hutch up against your garage or some other structure to keep cold air from getting inside.
- Board up the sides of your rabbit’s hutch, as well as the part that faces south.
- Allow fresh air to circulate within the cage so your rabbit can breathe properly at all times.
- Check the back of the hutch to ensure that it is completely sealed and will not let any cold air in.
You should avoid transitioning your rabbit too quickly from a cold environment to a warm one. It is not a good idea to take them out of their outdoor habitat in the winter and bring them right inside. This can be a huge shock to the animal’s system, which could prove fatal.
Make sure that you allow for a transition period of at least 3-7 days when taking your rabbit from a cold environment to a warm one. This will greatly reduce the chances of any negative effects on their overall health.
Size of the Hutch
Keep in mind that your rabbit will need at least 35 square feet for hopping around and playing while it is kept outside. This will help them stay warm and regulate their temperature effectively. The actual living quarters should be at least 7 by 2 by 2 feet.
If you keep your rabbit in a hutch that is too small, they are likely to become unhealthy and die young. One of the best ways to ensure that your furry friend stays healthy as a whole is to provide them with ample space.
Your Rabbit’s Diet
When you are keeping your rabbit outside in the colder months of the year, you need to provide them with enough calories to stay warm. If your rabbit isn’t getting an adequate amount of calories in its diet, it won’t be able to regulate its own temperature.
You’ll want to avoid giving your rabbit a lot of corn, as this can cause issues with their digestive system. Rabbits need more hay than usual in their diet when they are kept outside in the cold weather. You should give them nearly twice as much as you normally would. Just make sure that you don’t give them too much, as this can lead to excess weight gain.
Hydration is also crucial for rabbits that are living outside in the cold weather. You will need to make a point of keeping their water bowl filled throughout each day. The bowl should ideally be made of plastic. It is not a good idea to use plastic water bottles for your rabbit in cold weather, as the water can freeze.
Keeping Your Rabbit Stimulated
It is very important that your rabbit gets plenty of mental and physical stimulation, especially in the colder months. The more they are moving around and doing things, the easier it will be for them to stay warm.
You should give your rabbit plenty of fun toys to play with. This will help to satisfy their craving for both physical and mental stimulation on a daily basis. If your rabbit becomes very bored, they could begin acting out in a number of ways.
Hypothermia in Rabbits
Hypothermia is a real threat to rabbits that are kept outside in cold weather. You will therefore want to be able to recognize the signs before it is too late.
Some of the symptoms of hypothermia in rabbits include:
- Lethargic behavior
- Ears feel cold
- Pale overall look
If you suspect that your rabbit is hypothermic, you should get them to the vet right away. There are a number of things that your veterinarian can do for your rabbit in this situation.
Why Keep Your Rabbit Outside?
There are actually a number of reasons that you should consider keeping your rabbit in an outdoor hutch. This is an especially good idea if you have other pets in the house that cause your rabbit anxiety. Cats and dogs can be a major source of stress for these animals.
Keeping your rabbit outdoors also means that you won’t have to deal with them chewing up everything inside of your house. These animals love to gnaw on wood furniture and a variety of other things. This will benefit both you and your rabbit. They could end up chewing on something inside of your home that injures them.
- Make sure that you place your rabbit’s outdoor hutch at least two feet above the ground. This will keep it from getting wet and make it harder for predators to get them.
- Check the back of the hutch to make sure that it’s fully sealed so no cold air can get in.
- Board up the sides of the hutch to keep the temperature inside fairly warm.
- You need to make certain that your rabbit’s hutch has adequate air circulation so they don’t have any issues breathing properly.
- It is very important that your rabbit gets more calories than usual so they can regulate their own body temperature properly.
- Put your rabbit’s water in a ceramic bowl, as it will freeze in a plastic bottle.
- Regularly check your rabbit for signs of hypothermia, as it can creep up on these animals very quickly.