Keeping Rabbits Warm in Winter Outside

Photo by Maxi

Can rabbits live outside during winter? Yes, but you must revamp its hutch to insulate as much heat as possible. You also need to keep changing its water to lukewarm water every two days.
If you are the type of person who enjoys the great outdoors and the creatures that Mother Nature harbors, you must probably wonder how wild bunnies survive on their own in the cold and freezing winters.

Can Rabbits Live Outside During Winter?

Animals can play a major role in our daily activities, and science suggests that we interact with animals an average of five times a day. Pets are a big help to us in our efforts to cope with life and its ups and downs. If you are a rabbit lover, you need to implement better ways to protect your pet all year as the seasons change. Rabbits are cold-weather animals, and they grow optimally during winter seasons when other factors are optimized as well.

However, the winter can kill your rabbit with hypothermia. So, what temperature is too cold for rabbits? Remember your bunny is domesticated; it does not have enough freedom to make its own burrows, and its hutch captivity drastically reduces its survival instincts. Therefore, you need to provide it with conducive living and nesting conditions. Also, note that learning the diet of your furry bunny is also really important to its well-being.

Rabbit Hutches

You have no idea what sorts of danger would face your rabbit if it lived in the world, you would be perplexed. From hungry carnivores to men with assault rifles and shotguns, these animals are targeted by all the predators around their environment. Therefore, domesticated rabbits need round-the-clock care. Homegrown rabbits have a better living environment as compared to their wild cousins. They are not used to taking care of themselves from predators. During cold winters unlike their wild compatriots, they cannot build shelters to prevent the cold winds from knocking at their door. It is the sole duty of a rabbit owner to act as a mother bear when taking care of her cub; the best way to do this is to put them in weatherproofed hutches.

A rabbit hutch is a structure that provides shelter for domesticated rabbits. It protects rabbits from adverse weather conditions like the winter cold and summer heat. Furthermore, rabbit hutches keep predators at bay. Rabbits are known for their low body-temperature tolerance; they have the capability of surviving in below zero temperatures. However, they can not survive in leaky hutches that frustrate the insulation process that their furry bodies facilitate. Hutches give security and provide insulation from harsh weather conditions.

There are two main rabbit hutch models that pet stores commonly offer. These are:

The Two-Story Rabbit Hutch

The design features two floors, and the upper floor provides quarters strictly for sleeping, eating, and nesting. The lower section is the playing area. The whole structure is portable, and it can be moved to warmer areas during winter. Additionally, it features a wooden floor and walls that are curved from glazed pine. They provide the warmth and comfortability that is necessary for your rabbit’s survival. There are added doors on both the upper and lower divisions if you need some time to bond with your pet.

The Ware Premium Rabbit Hutch

This structure compromises a wooden floor and wire mesh framing. It also has an added feature: an add-on ramp that facilitates multiple functions. The run can be used during playtime, cleaning, and feeding. The structure’s roof can be customized during harsh winters to provide that much-needed extra warmth. It also features a pull-out tray that facilitates its cleaning. The wire mesh framing and fencing control and partition the living quarters to make sure that predators can’t access your fuzzy pet.

This is the rabbit hutch that we recommend the most!

Preparing for the Winter Times; Keeping Rabbits Warm in Winter Outside

Owning a rabbit hutch or pen is not enough; these structures require proper seasonal maintenance. Over time, rabbit hutches can give in to adverse weather conditions and begin to fall apart. When this happens, your pet rabbit’s survival odds reduce greatly. Therefore, if you want to keep a pet rabbit outside your house during winter you need to take some protective measures.

Take the following steps to make sure that your pet rabbits are safe during the winter months.

  • Carefully look for any gaps in the rabbit hutch.
  • Are they protected from the rain and wind?
  • Use a ceramic no light emitting heat lamp.

What Temperature is too Cold for Rabbits

External factors such as extreme cold could kill your rabbit. In general, a rabbit that is kept dry and has protection from the wind can easily tolerate freezing temperatures.  When the temperature outside falls below 19 degrees Fahrenheit (-7 degrees Celsius) things can become more life-threatening and you should consider moving your rabbit inside your home or garage.

However, it is not just about what temperature is too cold for rabbits. Since most of the rabbit hutch is comprised of wood that is always exposed to spilled water and urine, it rots. It is important to replace the rotten wood or it can be a good breeding ground for parasites. The rotting wood can also leak out heat and freeze your rabbit during winter. The dampening wood can also make the living space of your bunny wet; that is a sure way to kill your bunny.

Raising the floor of the hutch is a good way of preventing dampness, preserving the structure from rotting, and keeping rabbits warm in winter outside

The roof also gets exposed to humid water and gets rusty; it gets leaky. Ultimately, cold winds and snow rains can also pass through the small cracks. During the hot summer, the small cracks can also expose the rabbit to direct sunlight which is harmful to the rabbit.

Replace Dried Grass, Hay, and other Insulators Weekly

If you use dried grass, hay, straw, or newspapers to provide warmth, ensure that they are replaced frequently during cold spells. This is to get rid of the urine and solid waste that produces bad smells and carries harmful parasites. Ensure that the doors and hinges are working properly. Replace any broken doors that could be failing due to aging.

Clean and Dry the Sleeping Areas

Rabbits are adored by their owners because of their ability to remain clean. However, their urine collects over time and makes the accommodation very uncomfortable. Ensure that you clean the floors in the sleeping and playing areas. Remember to clean the feeding tools to prevent diseases.

If your hutch features wire mesh designs, you can cover the mesh with plastic or Perspex to prevent cold drafts that come during the harsh winters. When night falls and powerful winds come, you can use heavy blankets to cover the hutch thus preventing the cold.

Study on the effects of cold stress on New Zealand white rabbits

I have always loved rabbits. A rabbit was my very first pet. Since owning my first rabbit I have gone on to own many more. I look forward to being able to get my kids their very own pet rabbits.