When housing bunnies outside, you need to be prepared to adequately provide for your rabbit’s needs. With their wonderfully soft coats, healthy rabbits can tolerate down to 30° Fahrenheit and sometimes even lower temperatures comfortably. Because not all bunnies adapt quickly to the cold temperatures of winter, it is advised that you help your bunny stay warm once temperatures hit 40°.
Tips for Helping Bunnies Stay Warm
- A Winter Box: A great way to keep your rabbit out of the wind and provide warmth, a winter box is a cardboard, wooden, or plastic box composed of at least four sides that can be stuffed with bunny safe insulators such as straw or shavings. Definitely a must have for northern regions.
- Straw: One of the best and most inexpensive insulators, straw helps retain body heat and dispels moisture. Plus, bunnies love to burrow in it and chew on it. This works great with or without a winter box.
- Shavings: Another good insulator, shavings work great in combination with straw or in a solid floored cage. Unfortunately, they are not as effective at retaining body heat and are more expensive than straw. Additionally, if your rabbit is litter trained, this may confuse the bunny if the same shaving brand used for their litter box is also used for insulation. One last note on shavings, there are many types of shavings unfit for rabbits so more research is advised if you choose to pursue this option.
- Heat Lamps: For extreme temperatures, heat lamps are an alternative to keeping your bunny warm. They should be used with extreme caution as they can catch the wood of the hutch, barn, or house on fire if misused. For further reading, check out this article on safe heat lamp usage: https://www.cuteness.com/article/use-lamp-keep-rabbits-warm
- Water: One frequent concern when housing rabbits outside is ensuring that they have liquid water to drink throughout the day. If rabbits are not adequately hydrated they can develop serious health complications and become sick. When temperatures drop below freezing, it is important to check their water regularly and refill if frozen at least three times a day. Some breeders and pet owners prefer to switch from water bottles to water crocks during freezing weather since water bottles may explode from the expanding ice inside of them. Water crocks are also easier to refill than water bottles, making them a great option. Another possibility for keeping water warm, is individual heated water bowls or watering systems. There are a few concerns with the individual bowls as many of them utilize an electrical cord. If not hidden or placed out of your bunny’s reach, the rabbit might chew through the cord, destroying the bowl and possibly electrocuting the bunny.
- Food: Last but not least, increasing the amount of food and hay your bunny gets during cold weather is very important. This step helps them to retain body temperature during cold spells. As with all issues related to food, closely regulate your bunny to ensure that they are not becoming overweight.