In the wild, rabbits live underground in a dry and cosy burrow. But in their hutch, your rabbit will need your help to keep them warm. Rabbits do grow thicker fur in the winter, and they’ll also eat more food, but it’s still not enough to keep them warm. Read our tips below to find out how to winter-proof their hutch and keep them healthy and cosy in the colder months. 

 

How to get your hutch ready for winter

It is a good idea to move your rabbit’s hutch into a shed or garage. This is the easiest way to protect them from the wind and rain. However, if you do move them into the garage, you shouldn’t keep your car in there as the fumes can be toxic to your rabbit. 

If it’s not possible to move them, or you don’t have a shed or garage then you can turn the hutch around so that it’s facing the wall and it will protect them from the crazy British weather. 

You can use old newspapers to line the bottom of their hutch which will act an insulator. Then you should stack dry straw on top of it. Straw is warmer than hay so it’s best to fill their hutch with straw, but make sure there is also enough hay in there, so they have plenty to eat. 

You should provide your bunny with hideouts and cardboard boxes so that they have a warm and insulated area to get cosy in. You just need to ensure that your pet still has enough room to exercise. 

 

Should you take them inside during the winter?

Taking your rabbits indoors during the colder months can offer peace of mind as you will know that they are much warmer than if they were sleeping outside. 

As previously mentioned, it can be a good idea to put their hutch in a garage or shed as long as they have enough space for exercise. Or you can set up a room for them within your house, you just need to ‘rabbit proof’ it first!

 

Can you use a heating pad?

Yes! Heat pads are likely to be welcomed by your bun. You can even get rabbit friendly ones that are non-chewable and can be heated up in the microwave. But you should wrap the pad in a blanket before placing it in the hutch.

If you don’t have a heating pad handy then you could try putting a hot water bottle inside their hutch. If you place it in a plastic container and put a blanket on top, then your rabbit will be heated from below.

 

What is the ideal temperature for rabbits? 

Hypothermia can be a risk for rabbits in the winter. It will occur when the body temperature falls below normal (around 39°C). Rabbits who suffer from hypothermia will become lethargic and their paws and ears will go pale. If untreated it can be fatal so if you suspect your rabbit has fallen ill, you should take them to the vet. 

 

How to tell if your rabbit is cold and unwell 

You will know your rabbit very well so if they are acting out of character it is likely that something is wrong with them. 

Rabbits are usually quite energetic so if they are sleeping more than usual, this could be an indicator that something is wrong. Remember - rabbits don’t hibernate in the winter.

As you probably know, rabbits will eat all day, and even more so in the colder months. If they have a decreased appetite, then it is likely that they are unwell

Rabbits are clean animals, so another sign of illness can be matted fur, bald patches, or stained paws. 

Similarly, to you and me, rabbits can also catch colds. However, as they only breathe through their nose a cold can be a big issue. Look out for sneezing, coughing, open mouth breathing, and nasal discharge. If you notice any of this its best to take them straight to the vets. 

 

Feeding your rabbit in winter 

Rabbits usually eat more in winter to keep their temperature stable. So, make sure to stay on top of their food intake and also increase the amount of hay that you are giving them in the colder months. 

They will need some good quality hay to munch on so take a look at the different variations of hay that we offer. 

 

The lower temperatures can cause your rabbit's water bottle to freeze. You should check their water supply regularly, if it is frozen there is a high chance of your bun becoming dehydrated. You can wrap the water bottles in a thick sock or bottle cover to prevent it from getting too cold. 

 

The best practice for indoor rabbits

If you have a house bunny, then you will need to do less preparation for the winter months. However, you should still be checking in on their health regularly and any changes in behaviour should be monitored. You will also need to ensure that they have access to heat.

 

Exercising your rabbit in winter

It is so important that your rabbit is keeping fit during the colder months. If you attach a run to their hutch, then this allows them to come and go as they please. You should make sure that part of the run is dry and sheltered, with many hiding places so they can escape if they feel afraid. 

And if you have an indoor rabbit then make sure they also have enough room to run around!

 

Find out more

There’s a lot more to learn about rabbits so keep an eye out for more advice, how to’s and fact files on rabbit care.

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