The cold weather can take its toll on bunnies, these top tips will help you make sure your rabbits are happy and safe this winter…
Move the hutch somewhere warmer
If possible, bring your rabbits indoors for the winter, or move their hutch to an unused shed or garage. Don’t put the hutch in the garage if you park your car there as the exhaust fumes are dangerous to your bunny. If you don’t have a garage or shed you could should try to move the hutch to somewhere sheltered; by some trees and facing away from the wind.
Look for holes in the hutch walls
Check there are no gaps or holes in the hutch which could allow rain and wind to get in. Make sure the wood isn’t damp or rotting; you should apply a rabbit-safe wood protecting coating to the hutch every few years. You can also line the inside walls with newspaper for insulation.
Cover the hutch roof
The hutch roof should be recovered every few years or when required, the hutch should also be covered with a plastic sheet or tarpaulin to stop the rain from getting in. Putting sheets of newspaper and/or a warm blanket between the roof and plastic sheet will create extra warm for your rabbit, and let it hang down the sides and back as well as it covering the roof.
Make the inside of the rabbit hutch warm
Line the floor with layers of newspaper and add lots of extra hay and straw for your rabbits to bury themselves into. Blankets and fleeces can also be used so that your rabbit can snuggle into.
If you have off-cuts of carpet these can be used to line the floor of the rabbit hutch but make sure the edges aren’t fraying.
You can buy then a heat-pad which is warmed in the microwave and it releases heat over the following few hours, so you’ll need to reheat it a couple of times a day.
Get a cardboard box, close all 4 sides and cut a hole in one side big enough for your rabbits to get through and fill with hay. This gives the bunny somewhere more insulated to sit. Make that there is enough room in the rest of the hutch to stretch out.
Raise the hutch off the floor
Raise your hutch by placing bricks underneath, or by attaching legs. This will help to stop damp rising from the ground and affecting the bottom of the hutch, it will also stop ground frost freezing the base. Ideally rabbit hutches should be on long legs all year around to make it difficult for predators to attack them.
Check your rabbit’s water hasn’t frozen
You can buy bottle covers that help to prevent water bottles from freezing or you can place a thick sock over the bottle which will also help, but even with these precautions you must remember to check that the water and the spout have not frozen.
It’s very important to keep your rabbit’s toilet area clean as their urine can freeze and be very uncomfortable for them if left there. Bedding needs to be kept dry and clean and should be checked daily. Sitting on wet bedding can make them unwell.
Even in winter rabbit need exercise so bring them indoors for a run around, or let them have a short time in the garden, but avoid letting them get wet. If your rabbits get very wet, dry them with a towel and let them warm up naturally indoors – don’t put them by a heater. Do as much insulating of their run as possible so they can still go in it, and try and move it somewhere where it will get some winter sunshine.