As the dark winter days draw near once more, as pet owners we should be starting to plan for the health and well-being of the animals that remain outside during the cold and wet conditions.
Our weather can be a little unpredictable and it helps to be prepared for any extreme temperatures. Rabbits in particular are at risk of being affected by the cold and ice. In the wild, rabbits live underground which offers them natural protection from the elements. We take a look at what we can do to protect our furry little friends in the easiest and most cost effective way possible, from keeping rabbits warm in winter, to general rabbit care that should be performed on a regular basis.
Weatherproof the rabbit hutch
- Looking after rabbits is easier when you have a suitable hutch for them to live in. You will already have invested in a good sized hutch that is secure and well ventilated, but if it is time for an upgrade you will find a wide range of high quality hutches on our website.
- Place your hutch away from draughts and damp areas, anywhere that they will be exposed to the elements from all sides.
- Raising your rabbit hutch off of the ground will help to keep the cold from entering through the floor and will keep your rabbits clear of puddles that can creep into their living space.
- Look around for gaps in the hutch that the cold and rain can really work through. Repair these with small pieces of wood, or even with sturdy cardboard to keep the cold at bay.
- Check the roof carefully for any damage that may allow leaks into the hutch and repair these straight away. Once water gets inside it will be harder to dry it out.
- If you feel that the hutch is more exposed than you'd like, put up some beach style wind-breakers around the outside to offer a little extra protection.
- Move the hutch into a garden shed, summer house or garage if you have the space. This will offer ample protection in the icy weather and give them somewhere to play as well. Just be sure that the areas are well ventilated.
- Varnish or paint your rabbit hutch to add a little more protection to the exterior.
- Invest in a rabbit hutch weather shield that simply clips onto the front on your hutch. This will protect your vulnerable pets from the elements and can be removed with ease when cleaning or replenishing your rabbits food or bedding.
How to keep rabbits warm in the winter
- Provide cosy bedroom areas inside the hutch where your rabbits can snuggle. Cardboard boxes or pet carriers are an excellent solution for this. Otherwise a little hideaway from The Pet Express will work wonders for making your rabbit feel warm and safe.
- Ensure there is lots of soft, warm bedding inside the hutch and refresh it on a regular basis. This will also act as extra insulation from the cold and wind outside.
- If you have only one rabbit, consider getting a companion. This will not only prevent loneliness, but will also provide extra warmth when they snuggle together on cold days.
- Encourage your rabbits to forage more inside their hutch. This will keep them occupied during longer spells spent inside and help to keep their body temperature up.
- Your rabbits will need to eat more during the winter months in order to keep up their body weight and therefore keep up their body temperature. Add fresh food daily and top up throughout the day if they are getting through it quickly.
- Wrap water bottles in bubble wrap or an old sock. This will help to keep the frost at bay and prevent the water from icing over when the temperature plummets overnight.
Other things to consider
- Rabbits do not hibernate in the winter, so will still need a good level of exercise to keep their joints mobile and to relieve boredom.
- Ensure that your rabbits have access to their run as much as possible, which you can weatherproof in the same way as the hutch.
- Nothing can beat quality time that they spend with you, so you should ensure that this does not change in the winter. Try to spend more time with them if possible, as they will not be in their runs as often and may feel lonely.