If you house your rabbits in an outdoor hutch then you will need to proactively take measures to keep them warm. While rabbits can fare relatively well in cold temperatures, they are not immune to temperatures that fall below 10 degrees Fahrenheit.
In this article, I want to share some practical and affordable things you can do to increase the temperature of the hutch to make it much more comfortable and safe for your rabbits to live in.
The most effective things you can do to hear your outdoor rabbit hutch are:
- Make use of safe, soothing heat pads
- Install heat lamps and/or heaters
- Insulate the hutch
- Move the hutch. You can do this inside into an area i.e. garage that is naturally warmer, or outside that is more shielded and protected
- Purchase a well designed, draft-proof,weather protected hutch
Having an outdoor hutch leaves your rabbits vulnerable to the elements. Unless your hutch is well designed and insulated, your rabbits will be susceptible to the cold which can cause health implications, illness and in the worst case scenario even death. As rabbits hide illnesses very well, prevention is always the best approach.
If you want to ensure the health, happiness and well-being of your rabbit, then there are a few steps that you can take to heat and keep their hutch warm.
- 1 Add Heat Pads To The Hutch
- 2 Install Heat Lamps/ Tubular Heaters
- 3 Naturally Insulate The Hutch
- 4 Move The Hutch
- 5 Purchase a draft-proof hutch
- 6 In Summary
- 7 FAQs
Add Heat Pads To The Hutch
By far, one of the best things you can do to provide heat, that is a very simple fix and doesn’t cost very much. Snugglesafe produce the best, most widely used pad. It’s a microwavable pad that you can add to your rabbits hutch. It will stay warm for up to 10 hours and your rabbit can easily get on and off the mat whenever they are cold or begin to get too warm.
Snugglesafe is a reputable brand of heat pad, that is acknowledged for its safety. It is non-electrical, so there are no wires that your rabbit can chew nor is there any chance of electrical surge, electrocution or power failure. It has also been designed with non-toxic compounds so it will not cause any harm to your rabbits or leach any chemicals onto their body and fur.
To heat the pad takes only a couple of minutes and requires absolutely no special knowledge. If I can do it, you can do it. You simply take the pad, place it in the microwave for a few minutes, and you’re done. So you can quickly get it out to your rabbits when temperatures take a turn for the worst!
- Safe and soothing warmth
- Non-electrical; simply heat up in your microwave
- Plate-size pad easily fits under your pet's bed
- Provides up to 10 hours of safe and soothing warmth
- Non-toxic thermapol compound
Install Heat Lamps/ Tubular Heaters
Another popular option used by a lot of pet rabbit owners is to use single or multiple heat lamps.
Heat lamps are routinely used with other small animals, including reptiles. However, they are often used in chicken coops and other outside pet spaces.
If you want to use heat lamps, you will need to carefully consider your setup. Remember, there are wires involved and you need to ensure that your rabbits cannot access them. You’ll also need to ensure the lamp is not too close to the hutch or is shining directly onto the hutch frame itself. Heat lamps will also require regular monitoring, ensuring that the bulbs are working as intended.
Nonetheless, they make a great option to provide heat. If this sounds of interest, you will need to purchase an Infrared Heat Emitter Lamp Bulb and a Reflector Dome:
Failing this, tubular heaters work in a similar way and use the same concept. Tubular heaters are more practical in many ways, as you can usually install them on a wall at an appropriate distance from the hutch.
The Akoma Hound Heater is perhaps the best pet-safe heater you can get. You can actually install this inside the hutch because it has an internal heat shield to protect all wires/components, no sharp surfaces and is chew-resistant.
You can even get the model that comes with a thermostat to control the temperature more closely
- Designed with an internal heat shield to protect all wires/components
- Wireless Remote Thermometer with all batteries included
- Heats up to a 75 cubic foot dog house but also works great for smaller cat and dog houses.
- 8ft., 3- prong, grounded cord
- Has no sharp edges and will not burn your pet.
Naturally Insulate The Hutch
If you are looking for a more cost-effective approach to keeping your rabbit hutch warm, then thankfully there are some things you can do.
You can use old tablecloth, blankets and towels and wrap them inside the hutch for added insulation. Depending on your hutch, you can also lay these on the floor to prevent your rabbit(s) from having to walk around on a cold, ground surface.
There are some great fleece lined and fluffy blankets that you can get on Amazon for a good price and that provide a lot of added insulation. These types of blankets are very comfortable for your rabbits and improve their general environment along with providing temperature benefits.
However, you will want to ensure that any tablecloth, blankets or towels do not get wet as this can make them damp, smell and actually make the hutch colder.
Fill the ‘bedroom’ of your rabbits hutch with plenty of hay and clean dry bedding that your rabbits can snuggle up to.
Regarding external insulation, you can always use tarpaulin, cardboard and newspaper to help create a shield and barrier from the outside wind. This should also trap the heat your rabbits generate inside the hutch.
Move The Hutch
Another simple fix is by simply moving the hutch if and where possible. You can either move the hutch to somewhere that naturally has more warmth, or where you can warm the space better. An example would be a garage or a shed.
Here, you can also benefit from tubular heaters and other forms of heating devices like radiators.
If you are unable, or do not have the external space, you can always look to move the position of your hutch. Try to tuck your hutch around the corner of your home, and face entrances away from the direction of the wind. If this is not possible, put something in front of the hutch as a wind barrier.
Purchase a draft-proof hutch
Now this might not be an option for you if you own a good, well designed hutch already. However, the hutch itself is a major factor in the amount of warmth and heat that can be retained and how your rabbits can navigate the climates as they change accordingly. As such you should consider upgrading your hutch if it is not presently adequate.
What you are looking for in a hutch is natural draft control, which is all made possible by the design and construction of the hutch. In selecting an appropriate cage you can eliminate cold winds and fierce rain from getting inside and where your rabbit(s) face the it head on.
The best cages will also have a closed of enclosure, above floor level, which will enable your rabbits to shield themselves away when it is cold. Being raised, it also enables your rabbits to get away from any cold or damp floors when it is wet and cold. It will however, give them room to run and play when the weather takes a turn for the better.
One of the best designed and concealed hutches is the Trixie Rabbit Hutch with Outdoor Run that you can get on Amazon. While it may cost some money up-front, it provides a great home for your rabbits and can easily be constructed.
- 2 story hutch with upper retreat area divided by sliding door
- Attached run opens from above for easy access
- Hinged roof with locking arm opens on one side
- Non slip ramp and hatch door to restrict access between levels
- Pull out plastic tray for quick and easy cleaning
If you are looking to house your rabbits outside yer round, then it is imperative that you take the appropriate measures to keep them warm and safe.
While there are cheaper options available, do not fail to invest in your rabbits environment because cold weather can be fatal to a rabbit and you would only kick yourself that you did not act while you had the chance.
Can rabbits stay outside in the winter?
Yes, they can. Rabbits have natural adaptations that help them survive the cold. This includes thick fur coats and fur pads on their feet. However, it is important that the temperature does not fall to low or this could pose a significant risk to their health and life.
What temperature is too cold for rabbits?
Any temperature below 10 degrees is where rabbits start to notice the cold and will seek out methods to warm themselves up. While healthy rabbits can do well a bit lower than this, older and more fragile rabbits are not best suited to this kind of climate.
If temperatures drop to 0, you need to proactively take measures to provide heat. This can include providing heat mats, heat lamps and insulating their hutch with hay and blankets. Failing this you can also look to move the hutch into an indoor space, like a shed or garage.
How do I know if my rabbit is cold?
Rabbits regulate their body temperature by their ears. This is what you should inspect to get a gauge of their temperature. Very cold or hot ears could indicate a fever or a drop in body temperature and may require medical attention.
Can I give my rabbit a blanket?
Yes, it is perfectly safe and beneficial to give rabbits blankets. Rabbits naturally like to snuggle with blankets to keep warm when it is cold, so will feel inclined to use them if provided. Materials like cotton and fleece are perfectly safe too.