How to Care for Your Rabbit in Snow and Freezing Temperatures
The cold conditions that can pose a danger to rabbits are not ideal for them. Rabbits, unlike other small animals, don’t hibernate. It is important to keep them warm, dry, and protected from the elements.
Keep your rabbits safe, warm, and dry
Outdoor rabbits should be kept dry and warm in winter. Rabbits, just like humans, can experience hypothermia or frostbite. It is important to keep their body temperature at an acceptable level. This time of year, outdoor rabbits should be checked more often.
Tips to keep your rabbit warm outdoors
You may need to make some changes to your hutch if you are unable to bring them inside or you feel it is too stressful.
Lift the hutch from the frozen ground
To keep the heat in, raise the hutch from the frozen ground using bricks or wooden palettes. Your rabbit will likely nibble on the hutch if there’s anything hanging over it.
Get heat pads that are rabbit-friendly
You can also buy bunny-friendly heatpads. These heat pads can be heated in the microwave and then placed in their hutch. This will release heat for several hours. You should not allow your rabbit to drink from a hot water bottle.
Use blankets sparingly
Blankets in the hutch are not recommended as they can freeze solid if they get wet. Be generous with your bedding and make sure to change it daily so that your rabbit doesn’t get too cold or damp.
Keep the hutch inside warm
Add a few newspaper layers to the hutch floor and lots of straw and hay for your rabbits to dig into. You should keep in mind that in the wild they would have burrows underground, so line your hutch floor with newspaper and fill it with straw. This will keep them warm while allowing them to exhibit their natural behavior.
Hypothermia in rabbits
Hypothermia is when your rabbit’s body temperature drops to very low levels. This can happen after they have been exposed to freezing temperatures, or because their fur has been wet in cold, windy conditions.
Frostbite in rabbits
Frostbite can happen in extremely low temperatures, which can cause their extremities to freeze (the tips and ends of their ears, noses, and toes). Frostbite is not often life-threatening but can lead to hypothermia, which can prove fatal.
Due to lack of blood flow, skin can turn very pale and appear blue-white. Ice can also form around this area. Apply a warm towel to the area to stop it from getting worse and putting your local tissue at risk. To heat them up, don’t use a radiator or hairdryer. This can cause blistering and burns. Use tepid water to gently warm them up, then dry them completely. Consult your vet to make sure that no further treatment is necessary.
Exercise your rabbits
Even in the snowy season, rabbits need to be exercised regularly. In snowy weather, make sure your rabbit has a safe place to play in. Clear snow from the outdoor run if possible. Avoid letting your rabbits out in the colder months, especially if it isn’t possible.
Take into account both very young and older rabbits
As with humans, rabbits of any age can be more susceptible to cold weather than their counterparts. Rabbits who are suffering from ongoing health problems may also be affected by the cold. Their immune system is less efficient in fighting off illness due to the cold.
If your rabbit falls within one of these categories, you should pay more attention to their well-being during the snowy period. Make sure they have plenty of warm, dry places to rest and sleep in.