As the days begin to get cooler, it’s crucial for rabbit owners to prepare their furry friends for the winter months. Outdoor rabbits require extra attention to keep them warm, comfortable, and healthy during the chilly season. Here’s our top tips for keeping your outdoor rabbits warm and happy in the winter months.
- Remember, the bigger the better! Follow the 3 2 1 rule when it comes to rabbit housing. That means at least 3 meters long, by 2 meters wide, by 1 meter high. Store-bought hutches are usually too small, even those manufactured specifically for rabbits!
- Garden sheds are a great option. You can line the base and sides with plywood, with insulation between the shed walls and the plywood to keep it nice and cosey. A lino base makes it easier for cleaning.
- A constant supply of fresh, dry, bedding hay is necessary for the health of your bunny, as well as being great for snuggling in.
- Make sure there’s a way for your rabbits to get outside to their exercise area. Cat flaps are a great option to link inside with outside.
- If your bunnies are in a hutch, you can get insulated covers to fit most sizes, or tarpaulin can be used.
- Remember to make sure any rabbit housing you choose is well ventilated.
Healthy Winter Diet
- Make sure your rabbits have constant access to fresh water. You can invest in an insulated cover to prevent freezing.
- In winter months rabbits need slightly more food. This’ll keep their energy levels up; vital for keeping body temps stable.
- A good high-fiber diet of unlimited feeding hay, pellets, and fresh veggies is great. In winter months add a little more to their pellets.
- Not sure which veggies are safe for your furry friends? Here’s a few options for you that are available in most supermarkets and wont break the bank.
- Dark green cabbage
- Carrot tops / roots
- Cauliflower, plus leaves
- Spring greens
Even in chillier weather, bunnies still need their exercise. Don’t worry, this doesn’t need to break the bank.
- The most important part of a play area is that it’s large enough to get some personal space when they need it, and to jump, run, and binky ’til their heart’s content.
- Make sure there are plenty of places to seek shelter. These don’t need to be expensive, or even shop bought. Empty cardboard boxes work a treat.
- Provide platforms for your bunny to sit. As prey animals, they instinctively look for danger. Giving them somewhere elevated to sit and jump onto is important.
- Somewhere to dig is important for bunnies. As natural diggers, they’d appreciate a large box filled with hay or shredded paper.
Bringing Your Outdoor Friends Inside
If your Bunny has a great set up, they shouldn’t need to be brought in over the colder months. However, there’s going to be times when they need a little more shelter. From extreme weather spells to bonfire night celebrations, you’re going to want to be prepared in case they need to come inside.
- Make sure there’s a cool place for them to stay. If it’s too warm, the sudden change in temperature may cause them to overheat. They could also lose their winter coat.
- If you have other pets indoors, or small children, make sure the space for your bunnies is safe and enclosed.
- Strange new noises, sights, and smells can be very stressful for prey animals. Keep them somewhere quiet and calm and bring some of their enrichment items in with them for comfort and familiarity.
Keeping Outdoor Rabbits Warm: Our Summary
Because they’re a little more vulnerable in the cold, carry out your usual health checks more regularly. As prey animals, rabbits hide their injuries and illnesses very well so look out for any changes in their behavior.
However, by taking the proper precautions, your bunny should be absolutely fine outdoors over colder months.
For great advice and general information on bunny care, hop on over to the Rabbit Welfare Association & Fund site!