Autumn advice for rabbit owners
The nights are getting darker, there’s a chill in the air and the leaves are changing colour. It can only mean one thing… Autumn is here!
Let’s look at how to keep your bunnies safe and well during the autumn.
A brief summary...
- Keep your rabbits’ hutch somewhere warm and sheltered
- Make sure the hutch is well ventilated
- Use straw-filled boxes and snugglesafes for added comfort
- Wrap water bottles in bubble wrap to prevent freezing
- Check on your bunnies regularly and keep their hutch clean
- Make sure your bunnies still get their exercise
Keeping your bunnies warm
Wild rabbits live underground in burrows – where there isn’t much of a change in temperature between summer and winter. They also live in huge groups and can huddle together to keep warm.
Domestic rabbits can’t do either of these things to keep themselves warm during cooler weather – that’s where you come in!
Bringing their hutch inside
Prepare your rabbit for the colder months ahead by bringing their hutch into your garage or garden shed.
If you don’t have a shed or garage, you may need to bring your rabbits into the house during especially cold nights. If this is the case, don’t have the room too hot – your rabbits may suffer from the stark change in temperature. Ideally, the room should be no hotter than 20 degrees.
Remember that if your rabbit sheds their winter coat while they’re indoors, they won’t be able to cope with harsh autumn/winter temperatures and will need to stay inside until the spring.
Keeping the hutch outside
If you can’t bring your rabbits’ hutch inside, try covering it with tarpaulin. During really cold weather, cover the hutch with an old, thick blanket – this will provide even better insulation.
Take care to raise the hutch or bedding from the ground to make sure it doesn’t get damp from the cold.
While you’re insulating your rabbits’ hutch, keep it well ventilated. Make sure there are plenty of air holes so the hutch doesn’t get damp on the inside.
You can’t let your bunnies burrow underground, but you can add some extras to their hutch so they can replicate this behaviour.
Try filling a cardboard box with hay and adding it to the hutch. To your bunnies, this will be like a new room being added to their house; a super comfortable room that protects them from draughts.
Drop a few snugglesafes in there too – microwaveable heat pads that your bunnies can snuggle up to. Snugglesafes release heat slowly during the night, perfect for when the temperature drops.
In extreme cold climates, water bottles can freeze overnight. To prevent this, you can insulate your bunnies’ water bottle by wrapping it in bubble wrap.
Rabbits are sociable creatures. They should have at least one rabbit companion to keep them healthy and mentally stimulated.
During the colder months, your bunnies will snuggle together to stay warm.
Visit your bunnies regularly, wherever they are. Aim to do this at least 3 times a day: in the morning, at midday and in the evening. As you visit your bunnies, check on their hutch too – you’ll need to clean it daily to make sure it’s hygienic, safe and dry.
Read more: Rabbit neutering: preventing rabbit reproduction.
No matter how cold it is outside, your bunnies still need their exercise. If the weather’s too bad for you to let them out of their hutch, why not bring them indoors for a little while and play some games?
Playing games will not only keep your bunnies healthy and well-exercised, it’ll satisfy their need for company and mental stimulation too.
Need more info?
For more help & advice on keeping your rabbits safe during the Autumn, have a chat with your local vet!
Locate your nearest vet using our Find a Vet page!