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Winter care for rabbits

Amy Holloway

Fudge O'Neill

This is rabbit Fudge who belongs to nurse Emma O’Neill. Here he is undergoing some routine health checks at our surgery. I do like rabbits. They are quiet creatures which do not make demands on my staff for attention.

Now the colder weather has come along I am inclined to go out a little less and when I am not needed by my staff I tend to find a warm place to curl up to get a well deserved rest. For those bunnies living outdoors there are things owners will need to do to help make their winter as comfortable and as possible and prevent any visits to us at the vets.

It is important to make any repairs needed to hutches and make sure they are watertight. Check inside for water stains on the roof or sides. You can by roof sealant from DIY stores and coating for the sides. If treating the inside of the hutch make sure the product is safe for pets.

Hutches should be raised up off the floor to prevent the base becoming damp. They should be placed in a protected spot away from wind. Covering the hutch with an old blanket/carpet and tarpaulin will help keep the heat in and weather out but make sure there is a small area left uncovered for ventilation and it is open during the day.

Rabbits need a warm, snug bed area. Often a separate bed area is provided within a hutch, if not or the area is very large provide a separate smaller box with an entrance hole.

Provide extra bedding in winter, and an extra layer of litter on the floor. Newspaper can be used to line the floors/walls underneath the bedding. Moving the hutch to a shed or garage will help keep it warm.

Outdoor rabbits will need more food in cold weather because they use more energy to keep themselves warm. Check water bottles and bowls regularly to make sure they are not frozen, especially the spouts. Wrapping the bottle in something can help.

Thick winter coats will need brushing and remember if an outdoor bunny spends too much time indoors it can start to loose its winter coat. Also if you put your indoor bunny outdoors for play time do it in the warmest part of the day because it won’t have developed its winter coat.

Remember your rabbit will need company even though its cold. Many rabbits get little company when the weather is not nice for sitting outside and playing with them. 

Finally, don’t forget your rabbit this Christmas. They love carrots, brussel sprouts, broccoli and parsnip too!!! 

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