How to Save Rabbits from the Winter
Our bunnies remain indoors during the year, as you already know. They are indoor rabbits through and through, though they like getting outdoors and feeding on hay, clover, and dandelions. There are, though, rabbits outside who are much healthier. Where they can chew tree bark or dig holes in the forest. A long time back, we secretly fostered a rabbit that scared indoors but perfectly at home in the yard.
Even backyard rabbits, of course, deserve more than a small hutch. They need a wide play space with a range of furniture” to hop on, jump on and hide in to escape frustration and depression. Outside rabbits mustn’t be left alone so they are somewhat isolated from the family life within. The enclosure must also safeguard them from predators and deter them from fleeing into the wild. In the “real world”, even outdoor bunnies are not ready to survive, after all.
We are working on an article with suggestions for outdoor accommodation, so let’s talk about the cold for now. Rabbits are usually more suited to withstand the cold than the intense summer weather. Bunnies are always the most relaxed when we humans believe it’s unbearably cold. That being said during the winter months, rabbits that are pregnant, aged, and/or sick should not be left outside. Also, a decent amount of winter fur is not ever produced by the rabbit breed. For example, as temperatures get below 50 degrees Fahrenheit, lion heads and other dwarf rabbits need to come inside or reside in a very well insulated and probably heated large house.
Bear in mind that to remain warm on cold days, the body needs more fat, so rabbits use more calories to sustain their weight in the winter. Any diet shift has to come cautiously. Give one new thing at a time and raise the number steadily. To be ready for winter, it’s a smart idea to start in early fall. For the daily diet, root vegetables such as parsley root, dandelion root, cabbage, parsnip, and rutabaga make great additional selections. It may also be helpful to provide a small number of pellets or a small rise in pellets. For more info, consult your vet.
It is also completely important that before having to leave them outside in the winter, the rabbits have already spent the whole fall outside. Winter fur is the explanation for this. Rabbits would not have enough winter hair to make it through the cooler season outdoors without exposure to the changes in the seasons.
The basic conditions for living outdoors in the winter months are:
- Give a minimum of one house in the enclosure. Rabbits normally like the house to be on the floor and have at least 2 exits, and if that’s not the case, they do not take advantage of the house. In at least 2 sides, it can also be wind-proof and can be covered with tarps or thick blankets. With fluffy bedding plus hay and straw, the floor should be thickly packed.
- Rabbits can still have access to infinite quantities of hay, but within the shelter, you should also sell straw. Add a good pile of loose hay and straw and encourage the rabbits to dig the material out of their own cosy nest. If you have a space inside the house to build a cosy wall, you can even pile up some bales of straw.
- And sure that there is always a water supply for the rabbits. Instead of filling cups and bowls with hot water, consider inserting a little plastic ball. Hot water freezes better than cold water. It shifts and stops the water from turning to ice as a result. Water given in a stone bowl and put inside the house on a slightly elevated surface is often less likely to freeze. Some water bottle manufacturers provide thermo-covers which function to an extent. However, don’t depend on them. Water bottle tips will freeze, causing injury to the tongue of the rabbit, so they should be prevented or only used inside the home. It’s better to provide more than one water supply and search twice a day for each one.
- The rabbits need access to a wider field as well, aside from the shelter. Exercise helps keep the body warm and it helps to promote exercise and keep the rabbits comfortable and safe by providing an interesting enclosure full of caves, elevated platforms, and various textures.
- Where necessary, hold objects made from the metal out of the enclosure. They get freezing, and frostbite can be induced.
- Stop winter trips inside the home. Bunnies can withstand the cold, but they are unable to handle drastic and rapid temperature changes. The exception to that may be a cold cellar.
- Please ensure that the hay and the straw remain dry. It is good to let the bunnies play in the snow, but when they are done, they need to be able to go back to a dry spot.
- You should instal a heat lamp (for reptiles) anywhere inside the home if you have power in the enclosure (protect the cables). Another safe way to hold the body temperature up is by heating pads such as the Snuggle Safe or the Furimals Mat (you will find these on Amazon). Placing the water bowl on top of a heating pad often lowers the chance of freezing the water.
- Don’t let the rabbits eat frozen herbs and vegetables. They can cause serious problems.
- Before the winter begins, have the rabbits tested by a good vet and make sure they are safe and to suggest diet changes. In the winter, do a welfare check on your rabbits at least one day. When a rabbit doesn’t feed and is inactive, you know it’s an emergency!
Also Read: Killer Ways To Keep Your Rabbit Busy