Prepare your Rabbit Hutch for the winter

Now that the days are getting shorter and winter is just around the corner, you must prepare your rabbit hutch (the place where you keep your furry friends) for the winter. Since winter temperatures can drop a lot, and the wind can be biting, you have to protect them from the harsh weather. With just some seasonal modifications and extra effort, your furry friends will not only be able to cope during the winter but will be comfortable and safe until the warmer months arrive.

Prepare your Rabbit Hutch for the winter:

  • Step 1: Inspect Your Rabbit's Hutch
  • Step 2: Repair the Hutch where needed
  • Step 3: Reduce Drafts
  • Step 4: Raise the Height of the Hutch
  • Step 5: Provide a Warm Bed
  • Step 6: Use a Heat Pad
  • Step 7: Provide Hay
  • Step 8: Prevent Water Freezing
  • Step 9: Move your Hutch to a Safe Place

Rabbits are known to do well in moderately cold temperatures, but there has to be a warm and dry area to shelter themselves. This is why it is essential to keep their hutch warm and dry all through the winter to protect them and keep them in good condition. Do you want to know how to prepare your rabbit hutch for the winter? Are you unaware of the dangers of not winterizing your rabbit hutch properly? Don't worry; in this article, we have put together the steps you can follow to winterize your rabbit hutch before the winter season properly.

Preparing Your Rabbit Hutch For Winter

As soon as winter begins to set in, it is vital to protect your rabbit from the harsh weather conditions and keep them warm and safe. This is because cold weather can cause serious health problems such as colds and respiratory infections for your furry friends. Hence, it is best to create a warm, safe, and comfortable environment for your rabbit. Below are some steps to follow to prepare your rabbit hutch for the cold season:

Step 1: Inspect Your Rabbit's Hutch

Throughout the winter months, your rabbits must stay warm and protected. So you'll have to properly inspect the hutch and make certain adjustments to make it more hospitable for your rabbit. In this case, the easiest and safest adjustment you can make is to move the hutch to a warmer location. Bringing the hutch indoors or a heated garage is probably the best option in this situation. Also, inspect the hutch's wall for signs of gaps or space, as the walls can be easily worn out by elements of the weather such as rain and storm.  Check for rots in the wood's structure, and if you see the need to apply a rabbit-safe protective coating to reduce the damage. Also, you can line the inside of the hutch with some old newspapers to keep cold air from penetrating through the gaps or spaces. 

Step 2: Repair the Hutch where needed

Another essential thing to pay attention to while preparing for winter is the roof of your rabbit hutch. If you don't inspect the roof of the hutch regularly, it will probably be damaged most of the time when you check it, considering how playful rabbits are. Generally, the roof of the hutch is made of wood, and rabbits have the habit of chewing everything, so roof damages are not unusual. This is the main reason why you should always inspect and repair the roof of the rabbit hutch as soon as possible, especially before winter begins. To make it resistant against water and snow, use slop wood. You can also use wire mesh cover to cover the hutch and protect its surroundings. Additionally, you can line between the roof and plastic sheet with old newspapers or a warm blanket to provide insulation. Allow it to hang down the back and sides of the hutch while covering the roof as well.

Step 3: Reduce Drafts

You can cover doors partially using clear plastic or Perspex, as this will help the rabbits to see, allow the sun rays to come in, but prevent moisture or cold wind from entering. You can also use panels made for greenhouses to reduce drafts. While lowering the airflow is essential, ventilation is also vital, therefore, try to leave a gap. Another way to reduce wind is to turn the hutch so that the front is not facing the wind. This will help decrease wind and rain, primarily through the mesh areas. If turning the hutch is not an option, you can put a barrier in front of it to reduce direct wind and rain.

Step 4: Raise the Height of the Hutch

One of the ways to prepare for winter is by raising the hutch to a reasonable level. You can place bricks under the hutch or attach extra legs to elevate the height. The purpose of this is to prevent damp soil from affecting the bottom of the hutch and to also prevent ground frost from freezing the bottom. If your rabbit hutch is located in an area likely to flood, the elevation will somewhat protect it from mild flooding. Also, hutches with long legs make it difficult for predators and other animals to get near.

Step 5: Provide a Warm Bed

Warm beds are necessary for rabbits all year round; however, it is even more critical in the winter. You can provide some box or bed in the rabbit's hutch that also has an entry hole, through which the rabbit can climb in and out of.  To make things much more comfortable, you can get a rabbit bed from a pet store or order it from online stores. Before the winter finally sets in, line the floors and walls of a bed with some old newspaper sheets. Doing this will help the bed stay insulated and also keep your rabbit warm during winter. Also, put plenty of bedding material in the sleeping area of your rabbits to keep them warm at night. You may decide to use hay (dust-free one) as the bedding. Don't put blankets in their bed, as rabbits can chew on the blankets, causing major health issues for them.

Step 6: Use a Heat Pad

Another way to keep your rabbits warm and well during the winter is by providing a heating pad.  Heat pads are usually easy to use and are generally safe for your furry friends.  To make it effective, you may want to put the pads in the microwave, warming it to your desired temperature before placing it in the hutch.

Step 7: Provide Hay

Hay is like a natural blanket to protect against cold and keep your rabbits warm. However, you have to make sure the hay is dry and free of dust or particles. This way, you'll be able to keep your rabbit comfortable and protected during the winter. Place the hay or straw in the nest portion of the hutch. Usually, most professionals recommend using straw over grass since it has better insulating power. Additionally, rabbits are not likely to eat this kind of bedding and are less likely to go outside the nesting region. While this is true, the rabbits will urinate or pass their feces in the nesting area, so this means that the straws must be checked and changed from time to time to keep the environment clean and warm for the bunnies.

Step 8: Prevent Water Freezing

The water bowls containing water for your rabbits must be checked regularly to ensure that they are not frozen due to the temperature drop during winter. Even if the main bottle is not frozen, you still have to check the spout because it can also freeze. An alternative to this is using insulated bottles, better still, buy covers explicitly made for this purpose or wrap the bottles using a bubble wrap and old clothing or sock.

Another option may be to move the bottles to a warmer area of the hutch, like placing it inside the hutch rather than outside on the front side. You may want to have spare bottles to quickly leave one inside the hutch while you wait for the one to defrost and make use of the extra bottle.

Step 9: Move your Hutch to a Safe Place

This is yet another way to prepare your rabbit hutch for the winter. However, when moving your rabbits during the winter, there are some things that you need to keep in mind. First, never move your rabbits to the garage if it will be exposed to smoke or fumes from your car engine. Exposing them to the fumes from your car can cause respiratory problems or even kill the rabbit due to carbon monoxide poisoning. Generally speaking, rabbits cannot cope with sudden changes in their environmental temperature. Hence, moving your rabbit from the cold winter temperature into your warm house may not be an entirely great idea. Instead, start by moving them gradually into the warmer regions. In this case, you can place them in a shed rather than into your homes.  Also, please do not place the hutch in a drafty location when moving the rabbits. Instead, pair them in two's so that they can share their body warmth and stay warmer.

Final remarks

Preparing your rabbit hutch for the winter is not difficult. However, you must be willing to follow the steps listed above to ensure that your rabbit remains safe, warm, and comfortable all through the winter. Good luck.