Outdoor rabbits require special care from the elements. While they are more susceptible to hot weather than cold, rabbits should still be winterized in regions that have extremely cold temperatures. Most importantly, an indoor rabbit should not be moved outdoors during the winter months as this can cause unnecessary stress. Once the mercury has dropped below 50 degrees Fahrenheit, your rabbit will need extra care to get through the chilly weather.
Rabbit owners should seriously consider bringing their rabbit indoors or moving the rabbit's hutch into a safe building during the winter months. Many times this isn't an option especially owners of multiple rabbits. In these instances, a few simple precautions can keep your rabbit safe and warm in cold weather. A rabbit hutch should be placed in an area that is free from drafts. The sides should be enclosed but if they are constructed of wire, some material will be needed to enclose the hutch. Side panels built from plywood or canvas both work well to enclose the sides.
If your rabbit doesn't already have a nest box, now is the time to provide one. A nest box should only be two to three inches larger than your rabbit on all sides. A rabbit will use their nest box for a bathroom when it's too big. Most rabbits in the wild live in burrows and use objects they find in their environment to winterize their home. Rabbit owners should also provide their rabbits with the comforts of warmth for their rabbit to cozy up the nest box. Straw or old towels and blankets are both acceptable items for the rabbit's box. However, any items made from fabric should be removed and discarded or washed on a regular basis. Straw will also need replaced frequently with a fresh, clean supply.
Rabbits that live in extremely cold temperatures will need additional food. While trying to keep warm, rabbits will burn excessive calories which need replenished. And just like during the summer months, a rabbit needs a continuous supply of fresh, clean water. Water should be checked at least twice a day for freezing. Heated watering systems are available which are generally utilized by larger rabbit farms. Crock bowls are better suited for cold weather since plastic bottles may freeze and crack.
If you are unable to keep your rabbit indoors on a regular basis, owners should consider at least bringing them in through the night. Some rabbits are more susceptible to the elements like short-haired rabbits and dwarfs. Keep the rabbit's hutch or cage free from any cold winds, drafts and dampness. Check your rabbit regularly during the cold weather and seek veterinary care immediately should your rabbit show any signs of illness.