Imagine wearing a fur coat during the sweltering summer heat. Imagine you can’t take it off. That’s kinda what it’s like to be a rabbit. Heat can be very dangerous for rabbits, even fatal. Additionally, when bucks (male rabbits) get too hot, they become sterile. But not just for that day. Oh, no. They can become sterile for up to the next 60 days, which will really put a crimp in your rabbit breeding plans. I have a few different techniques I use to keep my rabbits as comfortable as possible.
- Water- go out and change their water as frequently as you can, switching it for cold water. Or, if you’re with the times and have an ice machine in your fridge, put some ice cubes in their water.
- Goodies- if your rabbits are used to eating raw fruits and vegetables, keep some cold in the fridge that you can take out to them. Obviously, you do not want to start them on whole foods this way if they have only been eating pellets thus far. I like to give mine cold carrots from the fridge.
- Open air- I have a couple of cages that I have not build a hutch for. I keep them on the ground so that they can be cool and have air flow. Do not place it in a sunny area, but if you have space in your yard that is heavily shaded, you could place your bucks in the open air cages during the day.
- Planned breeding- make sure you do not plan for rabbits to kindle (give birth) during the hottest parts of the year. It can be particularly hard on the doe and the kits, sometimes resulting in death. I make sure I don’t have any expecting does between June and July. I rebreed at the beginning of August so that the kits are born the beginning of September.
- Hutch placement- if you have shade available, make sure you have your hutches in the shade. Try to situate them so that they are not facing south, so the hot sun doesn’t blaze in their hutch.
- Basement- if you have a basement and not too many rabbits, you could move them to the cooler basement for a short period. If you only moved your bucks, you might be preserve their ability to breed them after the heat wave is over.
- Wet blanket- you could use wet blankets but I use my laundry that needs to dry. (Multi tasking at its finest.) As the clothes dry, the evaporation cools the cages within. You can also hose the blankets down periodically during the day, if you were so inclined. Coupled with the next tip, the rabbits stay pretty cool.
- Frozen bottles- I save Matt’s Diet Mountain Dew bottles (nasty habit, I know) and any other bottle I can refill with water. I freeze them when I know a heat wave is coming. I put the bottles in with the rabbits who will snuggle with the bottles to cool off. Be warned: I once had a buck who would attempt to mate with his bottle. You may die of laughter. You’ve been warned.
While hot weather is not ideal for rabbits, implementing some of these strategies will help them make it through the heat. Anyone else have any other tips to share?