Keep rabbits outside in winter: important tips

As a rule, keeping rabbits outside in winter is not a problem. The lagomorphs can handle cold better than heat. Here you can find out what requirements you have for keeping the Mummelnasen out of doors in winter and what else you need to watch out for. Rabbits usually feel good outdoors even in winter - Shutterstock / StockPhotosLV

Dwarf rabbits usually feel comfortable outside even in cooler temperatures, because they are no different from their relatives, the wild rabbits. Nevertheless, rabbits need a little extra protection and special feed in winter to keep them healthy.

Outdoor rabbit husbandry in winter: up to how many degrees?

After gradually getting used to the cooler temperatures, rabbits can easily stay outside in the winter. The easiest way to do this is to leave the Hoppler outside all year round.

If you want to put them in the outdoor enclosure for the first time, do so already in summer, at the end of August at the latest. Then the fur lines have enough time to gradually get used to the colder surroundings in late summer and autumn.

Most rabbit breeds can withstand temperatures down to minus 20 degrees Celsius. Long-haired breeds, lion heads and Rex rabbits, on the other hand, are more sensitive because they do not have such a thick layer of top hair. However, these rabbits can still stay outdoors in winter if their enclosure is well protected.

Which rabbits shouldn't stay outside in winter

Only chronically ill, pregnant or old rabbits should prefer to be kept indoors. If your lagomorph becomes acute, do not suddenly bring it warm - the temperature difference could be a shock. Instead, look for a cool, but dry, draft-proof room where it can relax until the temperatures outside become spring-like again.

Caution! Even if only one rabbit gets sick, don't bring it home alone. Rabbits should always be kept in groups of at least two. Otherwise the animal becomes unhappy and misses its peers. At least one playmate and cuddly partner from the group should therefore move in.

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So the rabbit hutch is winterized

A winter-proof outdoor enclosure for rabbits needs a covered area, enough shelters and plenty of exercise.
Rex rabbits, long-haired breeds and lion heads prefer a fully covered barn, all other rabbits can also defy rain, snow and ice with their fur and only need a dry, warmer area to eat, sleep and rest. This must also be protected from the sides from drafts, wind and weather.

Allow at least three square meters per rabbit for the run; then the mummelnasen can romp, hobble and warm up to their hearts' content.

We recommend several shelters so that the rabbits can choose which one they want to retire to. These do not have to be specially insulated, but they have to protect against drafts, rain, snow and ice. They should continue to allow air to circulate so that no moisture builds up inside, which could lead to mold.

Pad the shelters liberally with absorbent bedding, straw and hay, so that the bouncers have a nice warm temperature. But check daily whether there is still enough and everything is clean and dry. If not, remove the litter that has become damp and replace it with fresh material.

Rabbits in winter: what to do in frost?

The animals themselves are protected from frost in their shelters. It can be problematic if the water in the rabbit drinker or in the drinking bowl freezes. To avoid this, you can choose a larger drinking bowl and put tennis balls or pieces of wood in the water - the movement of the floating balls prevents ice from forming too quickly.

Alternatively, heated bowls are an option that is available for dogs, for example. However, you can also place the drinking bowls on hot plates or place them under a heat lamp in the protected area.

Attention! The heat lamp must be placed high enough so that it doesn't get too hot underneath: lukewarm is enough. It must also be protected from wind and weather.

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Proper nutrition for rabbits in winter

In winter, rabbits need a little more energy than in summer so that they can eat their protective winter bacon. This can be done with carbohydrate and fat-rich feed, for example through more root vegetables and more fatty seeds such as fennel seeds or peeled sunflower seeds.

Fresh food should be offered in the protected area so that it does not freeze, at best change several times a day and give smaller portions. Instead of fresh meadow herbs, dry herbs are now suitable, which you can supplement with a few oatmeal and whole grain cereal flakes.

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