Last Updated on March 21, 2023 by keno
Taking extra care of your rabbits during winter is vital considering how sensitive they are to temperature drops. Below are some of the tips on how to properly care for a rabbit during winter in order to stay healthy and comfortable.
1. Keep your rabbit indoors
We recommend keeping your rabbit inside during winter especially when the temperature is below 30°F. While indoors, ensure that their living space is warm, dry, and draft-free. In other words, make sure that their living area temperature is always between 50 to 75 o F.
2. Provide plenty of bedding
If you have no option but to keep your rabbits outdoors in winter, then providing them with bedding will ensure that their hutch is properly insulated. Soft straw is recommended the most for a rabbit’s bedding during winter since it’s more insulating and will essentially keep your rabbit warm and comfortable. Just make sure that you change its bedding regularly to prevent it from getting soiled or wet especially with cold temperatures.
Alternatively, you can also use heat mats to keep your rabbits warm during winter. You can place it under your rabbit’s bedding to prevent the heat from directly affecting your rabbit’s skin.
Lastly, as much as it’s vital to keep your bunny warm during winter, avoid providing them with bedding made from heavy materials such as blankets. These types of bedding may lead to your rabbits suffocating by restricting airflow especially if your bunny is left unsupervised for long.
Hutch needs fresh air circulation
Other than keeping your bunny warm in winter, also see to it that its enclosure has air circulation. This helps to prevent the buildup of ammonia from urine and feces. As a result, this may lead to respiratory health-related issues for your bunny. Below are the two things you need to consider in order to prevent your rabbit’s hutch from being stuffy during summer.
Proper hutch ventilation
In order to avoid poor air quality in your rabbit’s enclosure, make sure that the hutch has mesh panels or ventilation holes to allow airflow even during winter. Nonetheless, just make sure that your bunny’s housing isn’t placed in a location that’s too drafty to the extent of making your bunny feel cold.
Keep the hutch clean
The other thing you need to consider is ensuring that your rabbit’s living space is always clean and dry during winter. Replace their soiled beddings regularly and also clean after their excrement to prevent ammonia buildup which tends to cause respiratory issues for your rabbits.
4. Adjust your rabbit’s diet
Feeding your rabbit during winter is quite different from other seasons. This is mainly because rabbits need more food to produce energy that’s converted into body heat. As a result, they need a diet that contains the right nutrients that will keep them healthy and also help them to cope with the cold weather. Below are some of the adjustments you need to make when it comes to your rabbit’s diet.
Provide a high-fiber diet
Hay should be the primary diet of your rabbits, especially during winter. Hay which is high in fiber content is not only nutritious but also helps maintain your bunny’s digestive tract. On top of that, it also helps to wear down your rabbit’s teeth. Just make sure that the hay is fresh and free of mold.
Increase their food intake
During winter months, bunnies need more food to stay warm and also maintain their overall weight. Gradually increase their daily ration of pellets and fresh veggies, at the same time being cautious not to overfeed them. In other words, monitor their weight and also avoid feeding them too much or high-calorie foods. This is considering that rabbits are normally less active during winter.
In winter it’s important to not only monitor your rabbit’s water intake but ensure that their water source or the water itself isn’t frozen. Always ensure that your rabbit’s water is at room temperature or better yet, offer them lukewarm water to maintain their warmth and also keep them hydrated.
Even after making adjustments to your rabbit’s diet, avoid placing their food and water directly on the floor to prevent freezing. In other words, use a raised feeder or place their food and water in an area that’s protected from the cold.
5. Keep your rabbit active
Make sure that your rabbit has enough exercise and socialization even during winter to provide them with both mental and physical enrichment. Below are some of the essentials you need to consider when it comes to keeping your bunny active during winter.
Provide a spacious living area
First and foremost, always make sure that your rabbit has a spacious enclosure where it can stretch its legs. In other words, this should be done indoors, preferably in a playpen or secluded area warm area.
Offer toys and activities
To keep your rabbits more entertained, besides a spacious play area, provide them with toys. They may include chew toys, tunnels, or digging boxes. In other words, these toys should encourage your rabbit’s natural behavior besides providing them with mental and physical enrichment.
Interact with your rabbit
Spending quality time with your bunny on a regular basis essentially helps socialize them during winter. This is normally the best time since most rabbits tend to slack and as a result, they easily get bored. Bonding or interaction entails grooming, training, petting, or playing games with your rabbit.
Provide a companion
Lastly, it’s also a good idea to pair your bunny especially if you’re busy most of the time. In other words, rabbits are social animals that will definitely thrive if they’re compatible with their companion.
6. Check for signs of illness
Rabbits are normally more susceptible to illnesses during winter. As a result, contact your vet whenever you notice any behavioral changes. These may include loss of appetite, lethargy, digestive issues, or respiratory infections.
Taking care of your rabbits during winter requires providing them with a warm and draft-free environment. A proper diet, fresh water, and clean bedding are also pivotal if you want your rabbit to stay warm, comfortable, and healthy during winter.