Summer is delightful if you’re a human, but not always quite so wonderful if you’re a rabbit. Rabbits don’t handle heat very well and are typically more comfortable in the cooler temperatures of winter, spring, and autumn. But summer comes every year, so here are a few ideas to help your rabbits stay happy, healthy, and comfortable during the warmest months of the year.
Made for shade
This might seem obvious but it’s extremely important, so here it is: keep your rabbits out of direct sunlight. Bunnies stay cooler in the shade, and wild rabbits live in underground or undercover homes for a reason. So be sure to keep your rabbit’s habitat out of the direct sun (and this includes sunlight from a window).
Air movement is important for rabbits, especially during the summer, so don’t overlook the importance of ventilation. While you don’t want air blowing directly on your rabbits, good general air movement will help keep your rabbits’ habitat cool. You’ll also want to keep humidity in mind—rabbits don’t thrive as well in high humidity, and a well-ventilated area helps to lower the humidity.
Water, water, water
What’s more refreshing than a glass of water on a summer’s day? Like people, rabbits benefit from plenty of fresh, cool water at all times, and this is especially vital during hot weather. Provide fresh water frequently throughout the day and you might even consider offering water in multiple containers (crocks and water bottles) to ensure that your rabbits have plenty of options to encourage them to drink and stay hydrated.
Keeping cool and comfy
If the weather conditions are particularly hot and humid, you can help your rabbits stay cool by giving them frozen bottles to rest near. Take a few recycled one-liter plastic soda bottles and fill them partially with water. Freeze them until solid and then give one to each rabbit. Many rabbits enjoy resting next to the frozen bottles as a way to stay cool.
Rabbits don’t sweat, and their ears play a big part in the way they regulate their body temperature. You can help cool off your rabbits during hot weather by lightly wetting your hands and then gently patting their ears to lightly moisten them. This can be an effective way to help them stay cooler.
Are you and your rabbits ready for the long, hot days of summer? Enjoy them—because winter will be here before you know it!
What about Winter?
We’ve established that rabbits don’t care for hot temperatures, so does that mean caring for them in the wintertime is a lot easier? Not exactly.
In actuality, you might be surprised at how many of the “beat the heat” tips also apply to winter situations. Your rabbits will need protection from the elements whether it’s summer or winter (keeping them indoors helps rabbits to stay cool in the summer and warm in the winter), and good ventilation is essential at any time of the year.
Fresh water is important even in cold weather, but frigid temperatures can make it challenging to keep fresh (unfrozen) water in front of your rabbits during the winter months unless you house your rabbits in a heated building. You may wish to use water crocks rather than bottles during the winter so that you can frequently swap out the frozen crocks with fresh ones and bring the frozen ones indoors to thaw. You’ll want to provide fresh water multiple times per day during the winter months.
And always remember, staying warm in the winter takes a lot of energy! Your rabbits are working hard to generate body heat during cold weather, and this burns more calories than usual. Provide plenty of grass hay during the winter, as rabbits will likely need the additional calories to maintain their weight..