Rabbits and Weather Extremes

Hot Weather
Rabbits do not handle hot weather well at all. To them, 80°F is hot. In order to prevent your rabbit from suffering in the heat, there are several things you can do.

  • Make sure it has fresh, cool water throughout the day.
  • Put water in plastic soda bottles or milk jugs and freeze them. Place one in the cage and the rabbit will lean against it to stay cool.
  • Make sure the rabbit’s hutch or cage is fully shaded.
  • Set up a mister system or a fan near your bunny’s cage.

Those things will generally keep your rabbit cool enough. However, be on the lookout for signs of heatstroke. These include heavy panting and wet mouths. Another side affect of heat is in regards to breeding rabbits. Bucks may go temporarily sterile, especially older bucks. Does may refuse to breed or loose litters.

Holland Lop Rabbit

Cold Weather
Rabbits usually handle cold weather a lot better than they do hot weather. So long as they are kept out of the wind and are kept dry, they usually do fine. However, if they are not used to cold weather, or are particularly sensitive to it, there are some things you can do to help.

  • Provide Hay. The hay will create extra calories for them to burn, which makes more body heat. They will also nest in it, trapping body heat close to them.
  • Provide Fresh Water. If the water freezes, get the ice out and give the rabbit fresh water. Ice is not enough for a rabbit. Do not give them warm water, as that actually freezes down faster than lukewarm water does.
  • When Bringing Your Rabbit Inside. Keep it in the coolest room you have, or when you take it back outside, the temperature change will be a drastic shock on its system.
  • Insulate the Outside Cage. This helps retain the rabbit’s body heat in the cage, increasing the temperature a bit.

Rabbits cannot handle direct sunlight for very long at all. Just a few minutes in full sunlight can kill them. It causes them to overheat rapidly. Make sure your rabbit always has a shaded area that it can get to.

A wet rabbit is a rabbit that is more prone to getting ill or dying, especially if there are drafts or there is cold weather. Keep your rabbit out of the rain, and make sure it does not get wet. If it does get wet, dry it off right away. A little water on the surface of the coat will not harm the rabbit, so long as it has not reached the under layer of fur called the "undercoat." If it has reached the undercoat, some serious drying will be needed. If that happens, also watch for signs of illness in the next few weeks.

Drafts are one of the most common weather-related killers of rabbits. Make sure your rabbit is out of drafts, or at least has a place where it can get out of drafts. Wind chill can be very deadly.