Autumn has officially arrived, the leaves are beginning to turn and the weather is both wetter and cooler. While we don’t like to rush the days away, it is a good time to begin thinking about winter and what that means as a rabbit owner. In the wild, rabbits are able to hide down in their burrows where the temperature remains pretty much constant, but domestic rabbits don’t have this luxury. It is down to the rabbit owner to take the necessary steps to keep their fluffy pets happy and healthy as the weather changes.
Cold Weather and Rabbits
Rabbits have lovely warm coats and this will help them to deal with the cold of autumn and winter, but it’s not enough. They need to be housed in a suitable hutch that is free from damp, wetness and draughts. When a rabbit does get cold they can fall ill and older rabbits with arthritis have to deal with increased levels of pain. There are also rabbits that might not have grown a thick coat in time for the cold weather or lack a suitable amount of natural fat to fight off the cold. These are the reasons why it is necessary for you to ensure the hutch is in a good condition, dry and warm.
For now you may simply want to provide some additional hay or straw for added warmth. Once the temperature drops to freezing or below you may wish to move the hutch into an outhouse, shed or even inside your home. However, you must remember that rabbits still need plenty of exercise during these periods.
Check the hutch for any signs of leaks or damp. The hutch will need to be repaired and treated or replaced if it isn’t waterproof, well ventilated and draught proof. Look for watermarks, tears in the roof, holes or any other signs of damage and make the necessary modifications before the weather turns too cold and unsettled. Place the hutch in the most sheltered position in your garden and consider investing in a waterproof cover for additional protection. Alternatively you could use an old piece of carpet or blanket but these will need to be checked frequently for signs of damp, tears and to ensure they are covering the hutch adequately. You will also have to check the carpet and blanket is positioned to leave suitable ventilation and that the front of the hutch is left uncovered during the day time.