Rabbits really need our help to keep them nice and cool on hot sunny days, whether indoors or outdoors. As bunny parents we should all be extra vigilant towards our bunnies on warm sunny days because rabbits really don’t cope well in warm weather, especially heatwaves. Listed below are some very quick and easy ways to help keep rabbits (and other pets) cool on the hottest of days.
Use a plant spray bottle.
Fill with cold water and set on mist spray. Spray at a distance over your bunny and do this slowly, two or three times. Do not drench your bunny. Repeat this throughout the day, whenever your bunny needs cooling down.
Use Ice bottles and pods
Have as many plastic bottles of frozen water and ice pods in your freezer, as you can. Having more than one will allow you to swap them over during the day. As soon as one has melted, pop it back in the freezer and swap it over with another frozen one. If you don’t have plastic bottles to fill with water and freeze you can use plastic container tubs like tupperware containers or lunch boxes.
Provide a cool place to lay
Ceramic floor tiles and concrete slabs are brilliant for rabbits to lay on & keep cool. Much better on a hot day than laying on a bed of hot hay or straw. Still provide the hay, but have a spot that’s hay free, where you can place the slab or floor tiles. You can also use cool mats, but do make sure you place them in a couple of cotton pillow cases to prevent your bunny chewing them.
Use light coloured cotton pillow cases or cotton sheets
Ideal for bunnies to lay on to keep cool. They are also ideal for placing ice bottles or ice pods in for your bunny to lay next to. Use your plant spray bottle to spray water on the pillow case or sheet, to slightly dampen it and make it even cooler for your bunny to lie on.
Use soil or sand
By filing a spare litter tray up with some soil from your garden or child-friendly sand, you will provide another cool area for your bunny to lay on. You can also use plastic storage containers for this or plant trays.
Create shade and lots of it.
The easiest way to block out direct sunlight is to use light coloured cotton sheets. They are light in weight making it easy to peg them up anywhere and being cotton they keep nice and cool. Much easier to use and cheaper than the shade sails. Always leave large gaps at the top and bottom of your bunny’s enclosure to allow for air to flow. You can even soak the sheet in cold water before hanging it out to create an even cooler shaded area.
Cool their ears
Wet a kitchen tissue under the cold water tap. Squeeze out excess water and gently wipe over your bunnies ears and back of their head to instantly cool. Bunnies regulate heat through their ears, so this really is an instant cooler for them.
Change their water
No one likes really warm water to drink and that includes bunnies. Change their water a few times throughout the day, on very warm days, to help encourage them to drink their water. Fresh water is much more appealing to them. It is best to provide a bowl of water to your bunny as many bunnies prefer to drink from a bowl and they do actually take in more water from a bowl than a bottle. If your bunny is used to drinking from a bottle, do not take that away, just provide a bowl as well.
If you can use fans safely to help keep your bunnies cool than that is great. Always keep bunnies away from investigating the fans and protect the wires. Place puppy pen panels around the fans to to keep your bunnies away from them. You can also place bottles of frozen water in front of the fans to create an air conditioning effect.
Close the curtains
If your bunnies are indoors and you do not have air conditioning then keep the blinds and curtains closed to keep the sunlight out. This will help keep the temperature down in the house, especially late afternoon time, when things really do start to heat up indoors. Do always keep an eye on the temperature and that your bunnies are comfortable.
What about bringing outdoor bunnies inside?
To bring outdoor bunnies inside to a cool house may seem like the obvious thing to do on a hot day, but lots of bunnies can get very stressed out by being placed in a strange environment and the stress can cause them more harm than good. If you do bring your bunnies in to a new environment, you need to observe them closely and make sure they settle. Sometimes it is better to keep bunnies in their own environment, where they will relax a lot more and apply as many of these tips as you can to help keep them cool.
Keep roofed areas cool
If your bunny’s roofed area of their enclosure has the sun hit it anytime during the day, then it is very important to keep the roof nice and cool. You can use heat reflective car shades (buy more than one and tape them together to cover large areas) Large patio umbrellas are great to keep the roof in the shade. Or place a bed sheet or large blanket on the roof (secure with metal clamps) and soak with water by using a watering can or hose pipe. Keep wetting it during the day to prevent the roof from getting hot.
Give your bunnies lots of space
Make sure your rabbit has lots of space to move around and has different areas within their home to keep cool. Never keep rabbits confinde to a small cage and hutch. Not only is it cruel (rabbits need space to live a happy, healthy life) but rabbits can die on hot days, if they are stuck in a small cage/hutch.
Keep them calm
Bunnies naturally nap a lot during the day, but on hot sunny days they will very likely be completely zonked out right up until late evening time. It is best to leave them alone as much as possible and avoid stressing them out in anyway, but do still keep a close eye on them to check they are ok.
Feed them a cool treat
One thing we always do with our bunnies on warm days is provide a couple of snacks throughout the day of some fresh veg or a little bit of fruit. This not only provides them with a refreshing bite to eat but to also, very importantly, check they are ok in themselves. If they are eating, then we know they are ok.
Get up early
Even if it’s going to be a hot day, your bunnies still need to exercise and use up some of their energy. Obviously exercising in hot weather is definitely not recommended. Very early in morning, when it is cool, is the best time. So make the effort to get up early and let you bunny have their exercise time before it gets too hot. Even if it is for just half an hour, they will love you for it and be a lot happier.
We hope you find all these tips helpful. They are quick and easy, but the key thing is to prepare when you know hot weather is on the way. The other key thing is to be very vigilant of your bunnies in hot weather. Keep a very close eye on them and if you are concerned about anything always contact your vet for advice.
For more tips on keeping bunnies cool read our blog ‘How to keep your bunnies cool this summer’
For advice on heatstroke in bunnies and the signs to look out for, read our blog ‘Heatstroke in rabbits – symptoms and treatment’
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