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

  1. #11
    Mama Doe
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    Quote Originally Posted by SarahP View Post
    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.
    This has happened with my boy Hamilton, too. If he gets too cold it can trigger stasis. But it only happens once a year, when the first cold snap hits and it's a shock to his system. After a couple of hours inside he is fine again, goes back out and it doesn't happen again, even if it gets way colder. It has only happened to him the past two years, but he is eight now, so I think it's age related. My other three are absolutely fine and don't show any signs of being cold. They love playing out in the snow too.

    In response to Jane's question, I think the issue is more to do with neglectful owners, because owners who really care about their rabbits and love them will be able to tell if there is something wrong immediately, and will check on them several times a day, no matter the weather.

    That being said, we are intending to move house within a year, because I'd much rather have them indoors in the winter. Our current house is far too small to have them inside, though.

  2. #12
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    I think there are just too many variables to make any blanket rule. Really it comes down to being a sensible pet owner who takes the time to really care. Not all outside bunnies are "outside" ie just in a hutch - mine are outside but their hutch is a summer house that is lined with relective plasterboard. I haven't heated it at all, though it has always been an option, because they just haven't needed it. Despite outside temps of down to -10, their water bowls have never frozen, so there is a very clear distinction between good unheated shelter and poor.
    Access to movement is a big one as well - all animals can create warmth by moving, and those bunnies who have plenty of space and reason to explore it regularly ie a variety of feeding stations, hiding treats, food toys that move will stay warmer than those who have to stay in one spot in order to eat. We know in horses that they are often warmer outside with shelter, than in a stable, because of movement and being surrounded by cold walls and floor.
    Flooring is a huge one, and probably overlooked - anyone who has camped in the cold will know that if you can block the cold from beneath you have a much better chance of staying warm than piling blankets on top. Hutches on stands are probably warmer than hutches on the ground, but many hutches will be placed on concrete I suspect, and just lifting thses and placing onto thick rubber matting could make a huge difference.
    But at the end of the day it all comes down to people using common sense, observation, and meeting their individual animal's needs. Acknowledging that bunnies are warmer with a friend. Watching their weight closely as an indicator of energy requirements. And if you can't keep the water bowls from freezing, then I'd say the bunny is likely to be too cold too.

  3. #13

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    Quote Originally Posted by dollyanna View Post
    I think there are just too many variables to make any blanket rule. Really it comes down to being a sensible pet owner who takes the time to really care. Not all outside bunnies are "outside" ie just in a hutch - mine are outside but their hutch is a summer house that is lined with relective plasterboard. I haven't heated it at all, though it has always been an option, because they just haven't needed it. Despite outside temps of down to -10, their water bowls have never frozen, so there is a very clear distinction between good unheated shelter and poor.
    Access to movement is a big one as well - all animals can create warmth by moving, and those bunnies who have plenty of space and reason to explore it regularly ie a variety of feeding stations, hiding treats, food toys that move will stay warmer than those who have to stay in one spot in order to eat. We know in horses that they are often warmer outside with shelter, than in a stable, because of movement and being surrounded by cold walls and floor.
    Flooring is a huge one, and probably overlooked - anyone who has camped in the cold will know that if you can block the cold from beneath you have a much better chance of staying warm than piling blankets on top. Hutches on stands are probably warmer than hutches on the ground, but many hutches will be placed on concrete I suspect, and just lifting thses and placing onto thick rubber matting could make a huge difference.
    But at the end of the day it all comes down to people using common sense, observation, and meeting their individual animal's needs. Acknowledging that bunnies are warmer with a friend. Watching their weight closely as an indicator of energy requirements. And if you can't keep the water bowls from freezing, then I'd say the bunny is likely to be too cold too.
    This is really insightful, as I said, I have no experience of keeping Rabbits outdoors 24/7.

    I think it is often assumed that providing blankets for extra warmth will help, but in fact they can become damp and freeze so can make things wore. Many people donít seem to know that straw is a better insulator than hay.

    As you mentioned, it comes down to doing research. The sad thing is that over the last few weeks many of the people who have lost Rabbits to hypothermia have apparently provided appropriate cold weather accommodation. The one thing about every loss was that they were all small Rabbits, no more than 2kg. Maybe size of Rabbit matters more than had previously been thought too.


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  4. #14

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

    My rabbits are indoor and often I get concerned about them being too cold because we donít turn on the heating very often...however, I completely forgot that I set the thermostat so the heating will come on if it drops below 10, but that has yet to ever happen.

    My thoughts have definitely been on outdoor rabbits last week, especially with our temperatures dropping to as low as -6 by dawn...

    I definitely second on the flooring and things. Iíve slept on a air mattress in a house in winter and been freezing despite a duvet and about 3 blankets - and I am very used to sitting in my own home at around 13-15 degrees in winter even now. Iím always of the mindset of put in more clothes if youíre cold...fluffy socks are brilliant...stems from being a student with little money...

    The minute I moved to the couch (it was a teeny 2 seater and Iím a tall girl) I was so much warmer! I imagine having multiple levels is amazing to keep them from getting too cold.

    Insulating the walls is another thing to consider! Think I read above about someone putting plasterboard type stuff in the walls? maybe putting those insulating, silvery shiny sheets in the walls too? Will help. Like the emergency blankets you get that are basically like tinfoil.

    Close off entrances to outdoor runs seeing as some crazy bunnies seem to like to sit out there and get extra chilly! A cosy bedroom per bunny and one extra for snuggling off ground and filled with a good quality bedding. You can get those heat pad things that you stick in the microwave....only wish I had a microwave. I guess it would be wise to do this maybe at dusk and then again just before bed too?

    Extra calories too keep them warm...generating body heat means more energy expenditure so more calories needed.

    You could put a digital thermometer in their housing to get a good idea what temperature it is in their domain. I think heating their living area is potentially dangerous without monitoring if they have no place to go if they feel too warm?

    I think housing like those Iíve seen on Instagram - Lopslodge/Harrydaisybunnies is something to aim for. They both have several levels for the rabbits to be on, a cosy bedroom (of more in the case of lopslodge)...

    I read lopslodge had instances of the bottom floor freezing over (I think itís carpeted or something?) which is something to hugely consider.

    So given all this , I have to wonder how much is due to cold weather and how much is due to the wrong set up? I know individual bunnies have individual needs - size, fur type, age, etc all play a role too but there are things we as owners can do to combat some of this.

    Maybe there should be better information on how to house outdoor rabbits instead?


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    Last edited by RinnyRin; 15-02-2021 at 09:30 AM. Reason: I said polystyrene rather than plasterboard

  5. #15
    Wise Old Thumper SarahP's Avatar
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    We have a home office outside. It's insulated and cost a lot to make, but is really a glorified shed. I think it has to be better insulated than your average bunny enclosure. There was a whole day and night over the weekend where it wasn't used, so remained unheated for 24 hours. By morning it was around 1 degree in there.
    Sarah.

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  6. #16

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    I just look at my two smallest Rabbits, Dara 1.4 kg and John-Joe 1.6 kg with a Rex coat and I cannot imagine them surviving outdoors in the temperatures we had last week.


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  7. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by InspectorMorse View Post
    This is really insightful, as I said, I have no experience of keeping Rabbits outdoors 24/7.

    I think it is often assumed that providing blankets for extra warmth will help, but in fact they can become damp and freeze so can make things wore. Many people donít seem to know that straw is a better insulator than hay.

    As you mentioned, it comes down to doing research. The sad thing is that over the last few weeks many of the people who have lost Rabbits to hypothermia have apparently provided appropriate cold weather accommodation. The one thing about every loss was that they were all small Rabbits, no more than 2kg. Maybe size of Rabbit matters more than had previously been thought too.
    Again, in equines it has been found that smaller ponies lose more heat than bigger horses because their internal organs are closer to the surface - hence why tiny ponies develop such ridiculously big coats compared to bigger animals! So yes, size is extremely relevant, I don't see why it would be any different for rabbits. Coat type coming a close second. And also whether you have a plonker of a bunny like Odin who drops half his coat in the middle of the -10 cold snap!

  8. #18

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    Quote Originally Posted by dollyanna View Post
    Again, in equines it has been found that smaller ponies lose more heat than bigger horses because their internal organs are closer to the surface - hence why tiny ponies develop such ridiculously big coats compared to bigger animals! So yes, size is extremely relevant, I don't see why it would be any different for rabbits. Coat type coming a close second. And also whether you have a plonker of a bunny like Odin who drops half his coat in the middle of the -10 cold snap!
    Also smaller animals generally have a larger surface area to volume ratio, so lose heat much quicker than larger animals.


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  9. #19
    Warren Scout
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    Last winter we had one single occasion when, after several cold days, our elderly Harvey rabbit seemed to display signs of distress. So now as a rule of thumb if the overnight temperature dips below +5įC he goes in the shed for the night.
    So yes, it can happen, in my experience.

  10. #20
    Mama Doe supersonic's Avatar
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    Sonic lived outside for 9.5 years, and was fine. His coat was unbelievably thick, and he always knew when the weather would change before the weatherman! We tried over the years to provide him with warm spaces, which he regularly either ignored or ruined. He would dig through the hay and straw so he was sitting on the lino, and he would push any bedding to the side and refuse to sit on it. He would always have a sheltered space to sit, but you could guarantee he would find the place where the rain or snow would get in, and his outer layer would be soaking... super warm and dry inside though! The second he had the chance to come out and play in snow and rain, he'd be having the time of his life. He was near impossible to catch sometimes, and it was always when the weather was bad!

    I don't think there's a black and white answer... a) I reckon it differs between breeds and b) some are just so bloody stubborn they will never think they're cold!!

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