Rabbits love cold weather but there is a limit; as the temperatures drop precautions need to taken to make sure your rabbits stay active and healthy. Here are some tips to help you prepare for the approaching winter weather.
Make sure all rabbits are protected from the wind and rain. If they are housed in an open barn, putting a tarp up around the cages will help. Be sure to leave a space between tarp and cage, because rabbits may try to chew tarp through the wire. Old house blankets or moving blankets work well too.
Add extra hay; in extreme cases line their whole cage with hay, making a tunnel for them to snuggle into for warmth. Remember, by doing this, you may be blocking the wire for their droppings, so floor hay would need to be cleaned every day.
Check their water! Rabbits will NOT eat if they can not drink, if their water freezes they will not eat, if it runs out, they will not eat, this can not be stress enough. Check water often and have back up water bottles or bowls. It is a good idea to add a small amount of electrolytes to their water; a ½ of a teaspoon of multi-specie electrolytes per gallon of water can be very beneficial. Pedialyte or Gatorade mixed with their regular water is also OK for a short period of time.
You want your rabbits to stay active. Offer fresh pellets and hay often, when there is moisture in the air their pellets may become stale quicker. Do not fill feeder, but check feeder often and replace pellets as needed. You want them to stay active to generate body heat. Offer extra treats, in small amounts. A sprig or two of cilantro, a pinch of old-fashion oatmeal, a piece of a shredded wheat, a baby carrot or even a Timothy block of hay are all welcome treats to keep them active and eating.
Odor is always a problem when you house your rabbits in an enclosed area. Read these previous articles for tips on controlling odor: Rabbits: Conquering the odor problem and Barn tip: Another weapon against barn odors. Remember to not completely cut off air circulation
Preparing for any severe weather changes can take time, but is also crucial to keep your rabbits as comfortable and healthy as possible. No matter where your rabbits are housed, your planning is important when extreme temperatures move in.
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