As the winter approaches and the days slowly get colder, we tend to keep ourselves warm and cosy by a number of different methods. Staying warm in the colder months of the year is, without doubt, a basic need for us. It is also very important that you keep your pet rabbits stay warm and safe in the winter.
So, the rabbit owners who keep them at home need to make sure that they are providing their rabbits with the necessary environment they need for them to get through the winter months warmly and safely.
Domestic rabbits differ from the wild rabbits in that they are more sensitive towards the cold and any drops in temperature. Rabbits that live in the wild also survive the winter but they do so by living in underground burrows that are dry and drought-free. They mostly live in groups to cosy up with each other and staying warm as a result. By doing so, they prevent their body temperature to drop below freezing.
In the case of domesticated rabbits, they usually live in hutches that are obviously above the ground making them more vulnerable to the cold winter draught. The good thing is that they can cope with the cold weather as long as they are provided with a warm and cosy environment.
Below are some tips for the pet rabbit owners who are looking for unbiased information on how to keep the rabbits warm in the winter.
Cover the hutch
This probably is the very first thing you should do in order to create a safe and warm environment for your rabbits. You can cover their rabbit hutch with any old blanket or thick woollen fabric. Just make sure to cover it with a waterproof sheet or tarpaulin sheet so as to protect the hutch from rain, snow and cool wind.
You can also use cardboard or newspaper inside the hutch in order to insulate the hutch from its sides, roof and ground. Be sure to leave little air pockets while insulating the hutch. Also, make sure to check the hutch properly from all sides that there are no gaps or holes from where the cold can get in.
Move the Rabbit Hutch
This is another simple yet effective adjustment that you can make to the environment your rabbits are getting. You can always move the hutch to enclosed places like your garage or a shed where they are less likely to be bothered by the cold winter wind.
A heated garage would be a perfect place for the hutch to be situated but you have to make sure that there are no fumes in the garage as it can be harmful to your pet rabbits.
It is very important to give your rabbits a proper and warm place to sit and sleep on. The best way to do that is by placing a small nest box or a little cardboard box like your shoebox and cutting it from one side for rabbits’ entry and exit. The next thing you can do is place straw throughout the sleeping area as well as the whole hutch. Straw is very beneficial to your rabbits but you have to consistently change the straw every 2 or 3 days making sure the surface doesn’t get damp or wet due to the cold and urination of the rabbits.
This is a smart way to provide a nice and warm place to your rabbits for them to snuggle upon. There are these heat pads made up of plastic and covered with fleece. You just have to heat them up in a microwave and they’re ready to use.
Keep Your Rabbits Busy
In the winter, rabbits can sometimes feel lonely and you should take care of their routine and make sure they get playtime and exercise. You can bring them indoor if there is a rabbit friendly room in your house.
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You can spend time with them playing and making them run as it will make their blood to flow more frequently hence decreasing their need for warmth. Exercise is necessary for rabbits in cold weather especially so you need to make sure that they are playful and running around.
Food and Water
It is an obvious fact that rabbits tend to eat more food in cold weather than they usually do and rightly so, it helps them maintain their body temperature and get more energy to cope up with the cold. Any water bottles in their hutches are likely to freeze in extreme cold weather conditions so you have to make sure that their water supply is changed on a regular basis.
You can buy insulating covers for the bottles that will help the water inside to stay warm for a longer period or you can do so by simply wrapping up the bottles with some warm material.
In the winter, you have to take extra care of the health of your rabbits as they are more vulnerable to diseases due to extreme weather conditions. Make sure to take all the necessary precautions for the wellness of your rabbits. Make a habit of checking on them daily or after a day for any possible disease.
Do a check on their daily routines like eating, sleeping, exercise and anything else they get up to. If you notice any change to their habits, they are most probably ill or on their way to being ill.
A common disease that can occur in rabbits due to cold is hypothermia. It’s important for the rabbit owners to know the symptoms and signs of this disease so they can take actions accordingly and on time.
Most common signs are
- Cold nose, ear and the paws
- Laziness and less eating
- Change in breathing
Whenever you see such signs in your rabbits, make the necessary arrangements to get then warm or see a vet as soon as possible, as prevention is better than cure.
You can wrap your rabbits in thick towels, place them overheated pads or place them over the heated water bottles in order to give their bodies additional warmth.