How to protect rabbits from the heat?

Rabbits could get into trouble when temperatures rise high. Long-term overheating can sometimes even be fatal. Rabbits in the wild have a great solution! They dig a tunnel and cool down under the ground. Make sure that your animal is always able to take shelter in the shade and that it always has access to sufficient fresh water.

Interior and facilities

  • Refresh the drinking water at least twice a day and always make sure there is fresh water available!
  • Put the outside run in the shade or below an awning and move it when the day progresses and the sun changes position. You can also use a sunshade.
  • Put a white damp sheet over the outside run. Evaporation will remove the heat from the run. Make sure your rabbit can go outside the run to cool down on the grass or on the tiles.
  • Do you have a cold floor indoors? Leave your animal there to cool down! Please note: make sure your house is "free-roaming rabbit-proof" (e.g. watch out for electrical wiring!), or just put it in a run.
  • Never put the run out in the sun or behind a window in the sun! Keep in mind that the position of the sun changes during the day. Put your rabbit preferably in the coolest room of the house and where there is still enough light.
  • Does your rabbit seem overheated? You can help by placing cold bottles of water in the run. Fill up a plastic bottle for ¾ with water and freeze it. Bear in mind, you can NEVER put this in the run as is, it is best to wrap it in a cloth so there is no direct contact with the ice-cold bottle. NEVER use glass bottles or real freezer packs! A glass bottle could burst by the frozen water and freezer packs contain toxic substances that could be released when your rabbit decides to nibble on them!
  • You can also wet a paving stone and put it in the run.
  • Also, try to rub some lukewarm water over your rabbit's ears. A rabbit can release its heat most easily through its ears. Don't use ice-cold water, because this could cause its blood vessels to shut down and then your rabbit won't be able to cool down at all!

Extra tips during a heat:

  • Keep the run clean to prevent flies from laying eggs in your rabbit's fur. This could cause myiasis! Check your rabbit's behind for remnants of faeces and clean the run as often as possible. Flies could lay their eggs in these faeces and this could cause serious wounds. As soon as you spot maggots, contact your vet immediately to react quickly!
  • When you want to put your rabbit in a run on the grass, it is best to build this up slowly, so the rabbit's gastrointestinal tract can get used to the (protein-rich) grass.
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