As a concerned rabbit parent, it is natural to start worrying as winter approaches. You are probably thinking, “will my rabbit grow a thicker coat to avoid getting chilly?”. You have asked the right question, especially in the case of a domestic rabbit.
Yes. Rabbits tend to grow a thicker coat for the winter. This is to keep them from getting cold and staying comfortable in colder environments. Rabbits keep themselves comfortable by growing and shedding fur as per their requirements. However, domestic rabbits typically indoors grow a relatively thinner coat as they are ideally exposed to more consistent environments.
Cold Temperatures for Rabbits
The ideal temperatures for rabbits to live in is between 60–65-degree F. They can also stay comfortable in temperatures ranging from 40 to 45-degree F. They can naturally adjust their body temperature by growing or shedding fur according to their need.
In colder environments, rabbits grow their fur out to prevent themselves from getting hypothermic. Here are some signs of hypothermia that you can keep an eye out for:
- Low body temperature
- Look of shock
It is dangerous if the temperature falls below 20-degrees. In this case, you must immediately find other ways to keep your rabbit warm and comfortable.
How Can I Prevent My Rabbit from Getting Cold?
It is essential to provide your rabbit with well-regulated surroundings. You must pay attention to the temperature, or your rabbit’s body could succumb to hypothermia. On the other hand, wild rabbits do not face the same problems as they have learned how to adapt to extreme environmental situations.
Here are some ways you can prevent hypothermia:
- Keep your rabbit in a well-ventilated, regulated environment where the temperature is between 40–65-degree Fahrenheit
- Adding hay to your rabbit’s cage will also offer extra warmth
- Give your rabbit warm water only
- In the case of domestic rabbits staying outdoors, make sure you protect them from any rain or snow. Please keep them in a space where you can regulate the temperature.
If you start observing your rabbit showing any signs of hypothermia, immediately take them to an environment with a higher temperature to keep them warm. You can use towels, heat pads, or warm water to ensure that your bunny is not hypothermic anymore. You can consult your vet for this as well.
Hot Temperatures for Rabbits
As mentioned earlier, the ideal temperature for rabbits is between 60–65-degree F. Rabbits can withstand temperatures up to 85 degrees. Past this temperature, your rabbit may start to experience overheating.
Rabbits shed their fur to keep calm, but that too is limited. You can identify a heatstroke if you observe your bunny panting, be lethargic, have red ears, and experience convulsions. It is vital to take extra precautions to keep your rabbit comfortable when you see the temperature rise above 85 degrees. It is essential to pay attention to this as heatstroke is fatal among rabbits.
How Can I Ensure My Rabbit Doesn’t Feel Too Hot?
It is necessary to create a specific, temperature-controlled environment for domestic rabbits to be comfortable.
Generally, wild rabbits try and stay cool by digging burrows and finding shelter in the shade. High-temperature environments can affect rabbits severely. Here are some ways you can prevent your bunny from getting a heatstroke:
- Installing a fan: A fan is an excellent way to keep your rabbit cool. You can turn it off or on according to your rabbit’s need.
- Placing a wet towel: Put a damp towel on top of the rabbit cage. This will ensure a cool flow of air and sufficient shade.
- Using slates/marble tiles: You can use slates or marble tiles for your rabbits to rest on. Regulating the usage of these is not required.
- Brushing off shedding fur: You can occasionally brush the extra fur from shedding. As fur traps heat, removing this excess fur will keep your rabbit cold.
Some owners tend to drench their rabbits in water as soon as they start observing signs of heatstroke. This may naturally be your first reaction, but the shock your bunny would have from it can be fatal. You can use a damp cloth on your rabbit’s fur instead and immediately take it to the vet.
Does a Rabbit’s Winter Coat Shed?
Yes, a rabbit’s winter coat will shed. When spring is around, you will notice your rabbit’s thick winter coat shedding. A lighter, thin coat replaces this to keep cool for the summer.
Generally, rabbits have a 2-6 week shedding period. If your rabbit has a shedding period on the shorter side, it will shed a lot of fur in a small duration of time. So, you will see your rabbit shed a large amount of fur within two weeks. If your rabbit has a more extended shedding period, you can expect that amount of fur shedding more consistently. The shedding usually starts slow, grows more in between, and starts ending towards the sixth week.
How to Take Care of a Rabbit’s Winter?
Look after your rabbit’s winter coat becomes crucial, especially during its shedding period. Similar to other domestic animals, rabbits are prone to swallowing hairballs while cleaning themselves. These hairballs can often get stuck in the throat or the stomach. However, rabbits are not capable of regurgitating these hairballs out of their alimentary canal.
So, brush your rabbit’s coat every day when the shedding period is at its peak. Once it starts to decline, you can reduce brushing its coat to about once a week, depending on your bunny. It is essential to brush off the extra fur off your rabbit regularly. You will prevent problems such as choking, digestive distress, and even matted fur by maintaining their coat consistently.
Check out some of our coat-brushing tips to keep your rabbit light and well-groomed!
- Ensure that the brush you use is specially designed for rabbits. As rabbits’ coats are rather delicate, both you and the instrument you use must be gentle on their fur.
- Before you start brushing them, pick out any clumps of fur that may have formed due to heavy shedding.
- Cutting your rabbit’s fur is a big no-no as there is a risk you might end up cutting their skin too.
- It is always helpful to use a mat rake or splitter if you find your rabbit’s fur matted. You can use these tools to undo the matting slowly.
It’s All Natural!
As an owner, any new change that you see in your bunny may have concerned. But trust us, rabbits working their way towards a thicker coat is absolutely normal. It is natural for them to grow thick coats for the winter to prevent their body temperature from falling.
You can help by keeping track of your rabbit’s surrounding temperature. This way, you can facilitate keeping your rabbit cool or warm, accordingly. However, try to keep your rabbit in the most consistent environment as you can. This way, they will get used to a certain environment, and they will not get confused with the regular environment change.
Something else that helps is paying close attention to your rabbit’s shedding behavior. It is essential always to know when your rabbit needs its next brushing session to prevent any mishaps.