Can rabbits stay outside in winter?
Winter: Warm places for cuddly rabbits
Equipped with winter fat and winter fur, the rabbits can now calmly face the cold temperatures in winter.
In order to make the dark, cold season as pleasant as possible for the rabbits when they are kept outdoors, the outdoor enclosure should absolutely meet the following requirements in winter:
- Lots of unobstructed space for movement: The rabbits keep warm through exercise and stay fit and active even in winter.
- Covered part of the enclosure: Rabbits need an area that is absolutely dry, weatherproof and protects them from rain, wind and snow, especially on wet, humid or windy days. Make sure that the weather side, i.e. the side from which the wind and rain usually come, is also well protected - for example with a tarpaulin.
- Warm, frost-free shelter: Rabbits like to go to the refuge in winter to warm up, eat, drink and sleep. Rabbit pens, a cat house or a dog house are suitable for this.
Important is that the rabbits are protected from wind, rain, drafts, snow and frost inside. Barred doors of the rabbit pens should therefore be given additional protection in winter, for example with plexiglass or wood. A curtained wool blanket, which offers sufficient insulation without preventing air circulation, is also ideal.
- Lots of hay and straw are important in winter so that the rabbits can be cozy in their winter quarters. Check daily whether the litter is still clean, dry and sufficient and replace it with fresh litter as required.
Rabbit food in winter
In order to keep the protective winter fat all winter long, rabbits need a little more energy in winter than in summer. You can get this from high-carbohydrate and high-fat rabbit food. Fatty seeds such as fennel seeds and peeled sunflower seeds are ideal. High-energy varieties such as celeriac, kohlrabi, carrots, parsnips or turnips are suitable as vegetables.
It is important that you give the fresh food and vegetables in small portions in winter and replace them several times a day so that the food in the outdoor enclosure does not freeze. Instead of fresh meadow herbs, you can now give your rabbits dry herbs, which you can supplement with cereal flakes such as oats, for example.
Water supply in winter
Your rabbits must have fresh water to drink at all times. Do not use nipple drinkers in winter, as the rabbits could get their tongues caught on the ice-cold metal. A sufficiently large water bowl on the floor is ideal.
Make sure that the drinking water does not freeze in the enclosure when the temperature is below zero. The bigger the water bowl, the better. Because the more water, the slower it can freeze. On very cold nights, a microwave heating pad (snuggle safe) under the drinking bowl, which warms the water from below for some time, proves its worth.
Tip: To prevent the drinking water in the bowl from freezing, you can also place a table tennis ball on the water. The wind moves the ball on the water and prevents rapid freezing with the movement of the water.
Do rabbits need artificial heat sources if they are kept outside in winter?
Healthy rabbits do not necessarily need the artificial warmth in winter. However, if there is prolonged frost or in higher-lying regions where a lot of snow falls, a supply of external heat sources can make sense.
Here, for example, a heating mat for the enclosure or a self-heating thermal blanket are ideal. A heat or red light lamp can also provide warmth in the covered area of the enclosure. It is important that the heat lamps are installed high enough and protected from wind and weather so that it does not get too hot underneath!
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