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Thread: *Warning Sensitive Subject * Not ALL Rabbits Can Cope With Extremely Cold Weather....

  1. #1

    Default *Warning Sensitive Subject * Not ALL Rabbits Can Cope With Extremely Cold Weather....

    Do you agree ?

    Over the last week I have seen numerous posts on Social Media where Rabbits have either become seriously unwell (stasis, hypothermic shock) or died as a direct result of hypothermia. In many cases the Rabbits were provided with outdoor accommodation that is well within the 'cold weather care' guidelines of both the RSPCA and the RWAF.

    IMO the assumption that outdoor Rabbits can always cope with extremely low temperatures- ie sub zero, as long as they are provided with appropriate accommodation, is misleading. Is it time to change this message ? Should outdoor Rabbits be moved to an indoor environment over winter ?

    Wild Rabbits live below ground, the temperature below ground won't fall to sub zero. Wild Rabbits live in groups, many people still have single outdoor Rabbits so they won't have other Rabbits to snuggle with to keep warm. Wild Rabbits are unlikely to live for more than 4 years. Pet Rabbits can live to be teenagers. Elderly Rabbits are far less likely to be able to regulate their body temperature

    Opinions ?


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  2. #2
    Moderator Zoobec's Avatar
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    I agree. And I think it depends a lot on their accommodation, too. In the past, I have brought outdoor rabbits inside when it’s been sub zero like this.

  3. #3
    Warren Veteran loobers25's Avatar
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    I personally donít think so as bunnies canít cope with changes in general so extreme weather I would say is a big no

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    Warren Veteran loobers25's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Zoobec View Post
    I agree. And I think it depends a lot on their accommodation, too. In the past, I have brought outdoor rabbits inside when itís been sub zero like this.
    Some bunnies wonít like the change of being insider either but itís the lesser evil I guess. Bunnies are so complicated. I loves em

  5. #5
    Forum Buddy Pets mum's Avatar
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    I can only speak from experience. First winter I came here they predicted storm after storm, so Treacle and her brother came indoors, never went back out, apart from daytime in an outdoor run. Having said that, good waterproof accommodation could be heated. I don't know the answer, if there is one, but we are definitely seeing more extremes of weather, both ends of the scale.
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  6. #6
    Wise Old Thumper
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    It is thought that Bunnies can cope with temps as low as -5 and I have never experienced any problems at this temp, but below this and you could be right. Also the Rabbit's health and age has to be taken into consideration and whether he/she is a single Rabbit or not.

  7. #7

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    I think if heating can be provided, whilst maintaining good ventilation that is a different scenario. I suspect that those with heated outdoor accommodation are in the minority though.

    I canít base my opinion on experience as I have never had Rabbits who lived outdoors 24/7. But as I mentioned, over the last week posts on Social Media regarding Rabbits literally freezing to death makes me think that there needs to be a greater focus on the fact that with climate change we are seeing extremes of temperatures , both very cold and very hot and we need to take appropriate action re the advice given as to how best to house our Rabbits.


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  8. #8
    Mama Doe
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    It depends - age and health of rabbit, companion(s), accommodation provided, additional winter measures taken, and the weather. I am ok with mine at mild frosts. When it looks like it's going to get to -5'C for any time, I get very twitchy. Bringing them inside has it's own issues, though. Some don't like it, there may not be a suitable safe space, it may be too warm relative to being outside normally, etc. Then you have to think about when to move them back outside again.

    For instance:
    A trio of healthy 2 year old rabbits in good size accommodation, weatherproofed & checked at least twice a day - shouldn't be an issue. Top up with extra hay, an extra cover, and maybe snugglesafe heat pad(s) for normal (for Yorkshire) cold weather (ie the odd night at -2-3'C).

    8 year old singleton - seriously consider bringing inside to a cool room.
    Anything in just a basic hutch and / or in areas of more severe cold / wet / wind - definitely need to make some alternative arrangements.

    It is something that owners should take into consideration as part of owning a pet, though.

  9. #9
    Warren Scout Preitler's Avatar
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    Thinking about it, there would be some points to consider:

    Body size: The smaller an animal, the worse is the surface/mass ratio, with less body per square inch to produce heat that could be a limiting factor.
    Fur types: A lot of pet rabbits have cute fur types that are not close to natural, and might not work as well as insulator. Good thing in warm times, not so much in winter.
    Food: I feed quite a lot of calories, like root vegetables, in winter. Normally a small rabbit can live happily on hay and some greens, when it's cold they need a lot more energy - way more if weight and fur are already a disadvantage.
    Water: Bottles are often used in those tiny outdoor pet hutches, those freeze imediatly and need to be replaced more then once per day. Even non insulated bowls freeze pretty fast when there's a little wind. I'm really a fan of electrically heated bowls. Not enough water can contribute to digestion issues, and fatal energy loss.

    I don't worry about my 8-10lbs outdoor rabbits down to -15į, then I put a tarp over their overnight hutches. Now it had about -9į and there was no difference in behaviour, even my house bunnys are eager to get out in the morning.

  10. #10
    Wise Old Thumper SarahP's Avatar
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    When I had my stasis-prone bunnies, the reason I had to bring them inside permanently was because I frequently noticed stasis was happening as a result of a cold night. It didn't help that they were quite happy to sit outside in the run at a cold temperature, rather than snuggling up inside the hutch part. So it appeared that they weren't bothered by the cold, but then one of them would be in the early signs of stasis by the morning.
    Sarah.

    RIP Dusty and Clover bunnies xxx
    Misty and Pearl guinea pigs

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