Rabbits can handle cold temperatures reasonably well as long as they have a warm dry shelter. The warrens found in the wild are kept warm since they are below ground. As it is not possible to put the rabbit's hutch underground, you will have to take extra precautions to keep the hutch warm in winter or cold weather. It is advisable to bring your rabbits inside or at least into a garage or shed when the temperature falls below -12 to -9 degrees C, but above these temperatures there are several methods you can use to keep your rabbit hutch warm.
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Things you need
- Heat pad
- Heat lamp with wire cover
- Wood, plexiglass or styrofoam
- Old carpet or blanket
- Tarpaulin cover
- Roof sealant
- Polystyrene layer and plywood
Purchase a heat pad with cosy cover. Heat it in the microwave then place it in the rabbit hutch. It's the size of dinner plate and can be warmed in the microwave. It then stays warm for up to 10 hours. This replaces the traditional heat-up wheat bag or hot water bottle, which is more dangerous for use with pets.
Use heat lamps if you have an electricity supply with covered wires so that the rabbit does not touch them.
Cover the windows of the hutch in winter with wood, plexiglass or expanded polystyrene with small gaps (5-10 cm wide) for ventilation and light to enter.
Put an old carpet or blanket on the hutch covered with tarpaulin to protect against the elements.
Raise the hutch above ground level to keep out damp. If it has no legs. place a brick at each corner.
Face entrances away from the direction of the wind. If this is not possible put something in front of the hutch as a wind barrier.
Search for any damp parts of the wood of the hutch where there may be damage of leaks. Fix this with roof sealant from DIY stores.
Insulate your hutch by putting a layer of polystyrene covered with plywood on the inside of the hutch or line the hutch with cardboard, newspaper and then lots of straw.
Move the hutch into a garage or shed for more warmth, but not if you park your car in there as the fumes can be a health hazard. Use a greenhouse heater to raise the temperature.
Tips and warnings
- Water can freeze in winter in water bottles so that the animal can't drink, and when rabbits are dehydrated they tend not to eat; they won't have the energy to burn food to survive in the cold. An insulated water bottle cover will help prevent freezing.
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