Ideally you will keep your rabbits indoors so that you can
enjoy them and care for them more easily. If your home gets
cold at night, plenty of hay in the nest box will probably
take care of the problem, especially if you have more than
But pet rabbits can deal with the cold far better than they can
heat and humidity as long as they have good shelter. If your
area has cold winters and your rabbits must live outdoors,
try to keep them on a sheltered porch or in an unused garage
or shed so that the hutches will be kept dry and out of the
wind. Wind is a big contributor to hyperthermia, and
dampness will lead to potentially fatal respiratory
The perfect temperature range for rabbits is forty-seven to
fifty-five degrees Fahrenheit (eight to twelve degrees
Celsius). If you can safely heat the room that houses your
rabbits, that is ideal. If your rabbits must live outdoors
and you can't heat the shelter, there are things that you
can do to help them get through the winter without injury or
too much discomfort.
For example, you can make an insulating cover and cover the
hutch each night except for a small air space, as long as
you remember to remove the cover or open a ventilation
window every morning so the rabbits get enough ventilation
during the day.
You also can buy special warmers that you can put into the
nest boxes each evening, but if you choose to do that be
sure you buy something that is safe for your rabbits, and
cover the heated items with cloth and hay so the rabbits
won't be burned or overheated by them. One good product for
this purpose is called the SnuggleSafe Heatpad. You can heat
these disks in the microwave, wrap them in cloth and put
them under the hay in the nest box and they will give off
warmth for up to ten hours.
Whatever you do, give the rabbits a tightly made nest box
just a little larger than the rabbits, with a small opening
for an entrance and with plenty of hay for insulation.
Make arrangements to be certain that they always have
unfrozen fresh water to drink. This means that you must not
use water bottles for your rabbits in cold winter weather
because the tubes will freeze even when the bottle is not
frozen and you may think that your rabbits have water when
they actually can get none. Use water crocks and keep them
unfrozen or change them often.
This is imperative. Rabbits not only must have water for
hydration, they cannot eat without water to drink, so they
will starve to death even if they lick the frozen water in
icy water crocks. Feed stores in cold climates will have
electric heaters for your rabbit water crocks to keep the
water available to them.
Outdoor rabbits need more food in the winter because they
will use more energy to produce their body heat. Your
rabbits' longer winter coats may need brushing more often as
well. Be sure to keep the cages very clean, and watch
carefully for respiratory problems. If your rabbit is
sneezing, coughing, has runny eyes or rough breathing, or if
it is listless and inactive, bring it into the house to a
hospital cage, and take it to the veterinarian if that
doesn't perk it up quickly.