Many people bring their pet rabbits indoors during the winter months. That’s certainly one way of helping them cope with the cold. But is it necessary? After all, wild rabbits survive the winter without having to ask us to turn up the central heating.
However, wild rabbits have a very important trick up their furry sleeves. They live in burrows, protected from the weather in the confines of a cosy rabbit warren. Pet rabbits don’t have access to this comfortable underground lifestyle, so you’ll need to simulate it in other ways.
The key to underground living is insulation. In the same way as an igloo creates a relatively warm space in a cold environment, a burrow provides an insulated living space with a constant temperature. Not exactly a hot spot, but somewhere that can be warmed up by lots of furry bodies, dry grass and compacted earth.
Hutch insulation can be reinforced by adding extra bedding materials. The paper lining commonly used at the base of rabbit bedding soaks up urine, and so it gets wet very quickly. Anything wet can soon become cold, and can even freeze if the temperature really plummets. In really cold weather – anything below zero degrees C – change the paper lining daily.
The real key to cold weather comfort is hay. Double, or even triple the amount you normally use in the rabbits’ sleeping area, and they’ll be snug through the night.
Not All Hutches Are Equal
An old wooden hutch with gaps and cracks for the cold wind to blow through is always going to be a lot less cosy than something more windproof. The ideal hutch has all-round insulation, like the Eglu. This will still need its thick mattress of hay, though.
There comes a point when cold weather is actually dangerous. If temperatures plunge below minus 5 C, wild rabbits hunker down and lie close together to share and conserve body warmth. In a garden hutch they will struggle when things get this cold. Not many pet rabbits can cope with sustained temperatures below minus 5, even in something as well-insulated as an Eglu.
In these extreme temperatures, there are two choices: bring the bunnies indoors, or use a heat pad in the hutch.
It will also help, of course, to keep the hutch in a sheltered spot, away from the worst of the winter winds.
How To Fight The Freeze
Rabbit water bottles freeze when the temperature falls. You can help prevent this by wrapping insulating material – bubble wrap is good – around the bottle. The water bottle in the Eglu, for example, comes ready-insulated from the cold. But even this will freeze when it gets really cold. You’ll also need to make sure the water bottle nozzle stays unfrozen, which involves changing the water bottles a few times each day. Always have a couple of spares, for this purpose.
The hutch itself can be made cosier by adding insulation to the outside. Extreme temperature jackets are a much better option than a thick blanket, as the latter will get wet and then freeze.
If the weather forces you to bring the bunnies indoors, keep them there until things warm up again. It’s not good for their health if they are forever going back and forth from cold winter to centrally heated house or shed.
Eating To Keep Out The Cold
Outdoor rabbits, like all small mammals subject to the whims of the seasons, have to eat more during the winter. This enables them to stoke their internal central heating. We humans tend to forget that the food we eat is largely fuel to heat us up from the inside out – part of being a warm-blooded mammal rather than a cold-blooded fish or reptile.
A cold rabbit will shiver. If, in spite of your insulating efforts, you notice a whole lot of shaking going on in the hutch, you need to take action. Heating pads, or the great indoors – those are the options.
It’s important to remember, though, that rabbits love having access to fresh air. They are hardy creatures, and you don’t need to keep them cooped up until the spring. As soon as the cold snap passes they can move to their outdoor quarters again.
If you’ve ever needed to get inside your Zippi run to refresh food and water, or pick up your pet, you will likely have noticed the smaller openings make it difficult to reach inside, and removing a whole panel is rarely worth the hassle. The Zippi Locks have been designed to solve this problem.
Available in varying pack sizes to suit your needs, the Zippi Locks allow you to replace clips between mesh panels on three straight edges of any panel you wish to open up.
The Zippi Lock encases the edge of two mesh panels and secures them together in the same way as a run clip, however, once unlocked both mesh panels are still held in position until all locks are opened to lift open the panel you wish to use as an entry point, without it collapsing into your run and endangering your pets.
You can even use multiple Zippi Locks to convert adjoining panels of larger runs so you can open up a larger door or run roof. Simply follow these handy diagrams to see how many Zippi Locks you need to create your desired run opening.
With this improved accessibility to your run it is much easier to reach or climb in to feed your pets, tidy and clean the run floor and accessories, pick up your pet to take out of the run, or play with them inside. Making it easier for adults and children to access the run and play with their rabbits and guinea pigs inside ensures pets get as much playtime as possible to be happy, healthy and closely connected to you.
The Zippi Locks are durable, predator resistant and super simple to operate – even little hands can do it! The integrated safety button requires you to push and turn simultaneously in order to open the lock, making it harder for unwanted visitors to gain access.
Watch the Zippi Locks in action in this YouTube video…
The new Zippi Locks are now available online, from £2.75 each.
Rabbits will most likely not show any signs of illness or pain before it is really serious, as any weakness would mark them as an easy target for predators in the wild. It is therefore important that you, as an owner, carry out regular health checks on your pet, so that you are able to spot potential problems while they are still treatable.
Always take your rabbit to the vet as soon as you suspect something is not right. A rabbit’s health can deteriorate very quickly, so don’t lose any time wondering if it’s worth it or not.
Put a towel on your lap and place your rabbit on top of it. Stroke him or her to calm them down. When your rabbit has settled, you can start examining their body.
Feel the stomach to make sure it’s not swollen or distended, and go through the rest of the body for signs of cuts, bruises or lumps. Feel the muscles in the legs, they should be strong and firm. Any wincing or unexpected movement from the rabbit could be a sign that the body part you’re touching is causing your rabbit pain.
Check your rabbit’s breathing; it should not be laboured. Wheezing or clicking noises from the lungs can be signs of illness.
It is worth getting a set of scales and regularly weighing your rabbit. Sudden weight loss is a serious sign of illness, and a lack of appetite is a strong indicator of poor health.
Mouth and nose
The nose should be dry and not have any discharge. Check that the rabbit is not dribbling, and that it doesn’t have any sores or cuts around the mouth. The gums should be pink (a red or purple colour is a sign of illness).
Make sure the teeth are not overgrown or damaged. They should also be growing straight, and be uniform. You won’t be able to see the back teeth, but if you move your fingers over the cheek you can feel for lumps, and make sure that everything is symmetrical. Overgrown teeth are a serious problem as this can prevent your rabbit from eating, which is why it is very important to give them plenty of good quality hay to wear the teeth down with.
Check your rabbits eyes to make sure they are clean and clear. You shouldn’t see any discharge or dirt. If you do, carefully pull back the eyelid to see if you notice any redness or pus in the eye; it is possible that the rabbit has scratched its eye. The eyes should also be dry; runny eyes can be a sign of teeth problems, or possibly ingrowing eyelashes or blocked tear ducts.
Rabbit ears should be free from any dirt, wounds, lumps, wax, discharge or parasites. Look inside the ears; you can use a torch if it’s difficult to see. Take extra care if you have a lop rabbit as they are particularly prone to abscesses around the ears. Carefully massage the base of the ears, where lumps can sometimes occur.
Watch your rabbit move around to make sure it’s not limping and doesn’t have any lameness in the legs. Pick up your rabbit and put him or her on your lap. It’s not a good idea to put a rabbit on its back, so hold it against you with one hand under its bottom. Try spreading the toes to check for scabs, abscesses or a build up of dirt. Also check the heels on the back feet. These should not be red or swollen. Check the fur on the feet and brush it if it’s matted.
Check the fur around the bottom. It should be completely clear from faeces or other dirt. A dirty bottom can be a sign that the rabbit’s diet is too rich and that they are not eating all the caecotrophs they produce.
During summer you should check for any build up of dirt at least once a day, as a dirty bum can attract flies that lay eggs in the damp fur. This causes a condition known as flystrike, which can kill a healthy rabbit in a matter of days.
Also check the rear end for any swelling or redness.
With your rabbit sat on your lap, part the hair with your fingers and check for cuts and wounds, bald patches, anything moving, small brown dots or white flakes.
Even if you don’t have a rabbit that requires grooming on a daily or weekly basis it is good to get your pet used to brushing from an early age. Rabbits moult regularly, and you might need to help them get rid of dead hair from their coat during this time.
Changes in temperament
Sudden changes in temperament and behaviour is never a good sign. Maybe your rabbit doesn’t come running when you approach it with food in the morning, or is suddenly aggressive. These might be signs your rabbit is in pain.
Rabbits who reach sexual maturity can sometimes act very differently. Spraying is a common problem, as is aggression. Your rabbit might not be in pain, but it can be very distressing for them to go through this ‘puberty phase’. This might be a good reason to get your pets neutered as soon as they are old enough.
Many people with indoor rabbits would like to let them roam free in the house, giving them more space and including them in daily family life, but worry that they will have to spend their time picking up droppings and wiping up wee. They might however not realise that rabbits, like cats, can be trained to use a litterbox.
If you haven’t already done so, you will need to spay or neuter your pet, as an unspayed or unneutered rabbit will be almost impossible to litter train. You will also need to keep the rabbit in a confined space until they’re fully grown. Unlike with dogs and cats, it’s much easier to train older rabbits, as their attention span and learning abilities are very limited when as babies or very young.
Litter training a rabbit can take some time, and accidents will most certainly happen, so make sure you have enough patience to get through the process with your pet. Rabbits, like most animals, will not respond well to any type of punishment, so never tell your rabbit off when he or she has done something wrong. This will only make them forget what they have learned, and they will be more reluctant to try again.
Choose The Right Place
While the rabbit is learning, you will need to keep him or her in a confined space in the house. Bathrooms or utility rooms are good places, but you can also set up a playpen, ideally in a room that is not carpeted.
You will most likely be needing several litter boxes further along in the training process, but start with one. If you notice that the rabbit keeps going into a different corner to wee or poo, move the box to their preferred place.
The Litter Box
Rabbits want space to stretch out in the box, so make sure you get one that is big enough. You will be able to find boxes specifically designed for rabbits, but the best option is normally a simple medium sized tray-type cat litter box. Just make sure the rabbit can easily hop into it.
Prep the box with a layer of absorbent litter. Carefresh is a perfect alternative as it soaks up any unwanted odeurs, but you can also use shredded paper or wood based solutions. Don’t use anything that will be dangerous for the rabbit to ingest, as they will nibble on the bedding. Make sure to also stay away from softwoods like pine or cedar, as well as clay-based or clumping litter, as they can be harmful to your bunny.
Put a good layer of good quality hay on top of the bedding, and add some of the droppings and urine-soaked bedding. This will guide the rabbit to the right spot.
Try It Out With Your Bunny
Let the rabbit into the training room or area, and stay with him or her. When you see them leave droppings or urinate, immediately lift them up and put both the bunny and the droppings in the tray. Talk softly and pet him or her. This should after a while hopefully get the message across that the litter box is the right place to go. Spend as much time as possible doing this over a few days. When you need to leave, put the rabbit back in the hutch or smaller enclosure. Repeat daily until you can trust them to know where to go.
When you think you rabbit is ready to move on you can gradually expand the area where the rabbit is kept. Don’t overwhelm them with the whole house at once, as that will only mean that the rabbit will forget where the litter box is, and all that hard training will go to waste.
Notice where accidents tend to happen, and put out extra litter boxes there. This might mean you have to move the rabbits cage or rearrange some furniture, but once you have got it right it will be worth it.
It’s important to note that very few rabbits are 100% reliable with their litter box. Accidents will probably keep occurring throughout the rabbit’s life, and that doesn’t mean that the training has failed. It is also normal for the rabbit to leave a few droppings right next to the box or sometimes urinate on, or over, the edge of the tray. Put a mat or some paper under the box to make it easy to clean.
Rabbits, as prey animals, tend to hide their illnesses as much as possible, and they are very good at it. This is why it is important for all rabbit owners to keep a close eye at your rabbit and do regular health checks, so that you can spot problems as early as possible.
Checking your pet rabbits’ poo is a brilliant way to see how they are doing, and from just having a little look and possibly a little feel, you will be able to tell a lot about your pet’s health. But before we start exploring the wonderful world of rabbit poo, it’s important to mention that if you’re ever worried or unsure, it’s always best to consult your vet.
Different types of poo
Rabbits produce two types of droppings:
Faecal pellets. This is what most people think of when you say rabbit poo. They are small, round balls made up of mainly undigested hay. These droppings are relatively firm and more or less completely dry, and they don’t smell. There will be lots of these to clean up in the hutch, so take the opportunity to see if they look normal.
Cecotropes. These are not actually poo, but little balls of nutrition that the rabbits will pick from their bottoms and eat again. We know, not very nice, but they are a vital part of the rabbits diet, and if you see your bunny munching on these poo bits you should be comforted and proud, as it’s very important that your rabbit eats these. Cecotropes are formed in a part of the digestive system called the caecum. After the food has gone through the small intestine, it is separated. Food matter that has been digested or doesn’t contain any nutrients will go through the large intestine and come out as pellets, whereas undigested food will be sent through the caecum. There, plenty of healthy microorganisms and bacteria will break it down to a form that the body will actually be able to digest, and the rabbit will dispose of the cecotropes and munch away at them again. Most of the time the rabbit will eat the cecotropes straight away. If you have a healthy rabbit with a good diet, you might not ever notice them, but they are soft and shiny black balls that sit together in a cluster, almost resembling a blackberry (sorry to ruin blackberries for you!).
Check your rabbit’s poo regularly to see if you notice anything new or irregular. Are the faecal pellets too small, too hard or not uniform? Are the pellets strung together by hair? Are they a weird colour?
The main reason for poo related problems is an unbalanced diet. Try changing a few things in the way you feed your rabbits, but make sure you never make any big changes too quickly. A balanced diet for a rabbit consists of roughly 90% good quality hay, a small handful of pellets and some fresh fruit and vegetables (how much depends a bit on the size of your rabbit). He or she must also have unlimited access to fresh water at all times.
If you think something might not be right you can try changing the vegetables you give your pet. Instead of peppers and carrots, try vegetables with less sugar and more fibre, like broccoli, cabbage, spinach and other leafy greens. You might be giving your rabbit too much food, or food that is too rich. Try limiting the amount of pellets the rabbit is given, and make sure the feed you give them has got everything they need, and a good amount of fibre.
If you have long-haired rabbits it’s inevitable that they sometimes ingest some fur, which will inevitably need come out the other way. If you see a string of pellets connected by hair every now and again it’s nothing to worry about, but if it happens several times a week, it might be a good idea to groom your rabbit more often.
Diarrhea is very serious in rabbits, especially during the warmer months of the year when flies are attracted to damp and dirty fur. They lay their eggs in the rabbit’s bottom, and when the larvae emerge they eat the rabbit’s flesh and release toxins into their bodies. This can kill a rabbit in only a few days, so if you notice your rabbit has a soggy bottom it’s important to clean it, and to check on them several times a day. If the diarrhea lasts for more than a few days it’s best to take your pet to the vet.
Rabbit droppings as manure
Rabbits and gardeners are not always the best of friends, but your pet rabbits, and their droppings, will really help your plants. Unlike most other fertilizers, rabbit droppings can be spread on flower beds or veg patches straight away, as it breaks down quickly and doesn’t burn the plants or roots in the process.
Rabbit manure contains 4 times more nutrients than cow or horse manure, and twice as much as chicken manure, but it doesn’t have as much nitrogen in it, which means that you don’t have to compost it if you don’t want to. Another benefit of the rabbit’s pellets is that they continue to release nutrients as they break down, and will improve the structure of the soil.
Summer is the greatest time of the year, but when the temperature rises it’s important to make sure your rabbits, and their home, are ready for the warmer weather. Rabbits are generally very hardy animals, but they actually tend to deal better with cold spells than with extreme heat.
It might be tempting to move your outdoor rabbits inside your air-conditioned house to help them stay cool, but sudden changes in temperature can actually be worse for them than staying outside in the heat. It is, however, important to know that rabbits can die from heat stroke, so make sure that you’re doing everything you can to prevent your rabbits from getting ill.
The easiest thing to do to make sure your rabbits are comfortable is to get them a hutch that stays cool even in the height of summer. The Eglu Go hutch has twin-wall insulation that keeps the heat out, and makes the temperature in the hutch stay relatively stable throughout the day. It also has a draught-free ventilation system that encourages air to flow through the hutch without creating a nasty draft.
Another important thing is shade. If possible, place the rabbits’ hutch and play area in a shady part of the garden, ideally under a tree or next to a building that blocks the sun. If different parts of the garden are shaded at different times of the day you might be able to move the play area as the day goes on. This is very easy with Omlet’s Zippi runs and tunnel system. If you don’t have any natural shade you will need to add covers and sun shades to the run to make sure that your rabbits can be outside without having to be in direct sunlight.
Food and Water
Make sure that your rabbits have plenty of fresh water at all times. Consider changing the water several times a day when it’s very hot; rabbits are much more likely to drink more if the water is nice and cool, just as you would. Speaking of water, fill a few plastic bottles and put them in the freezer for a few hours. You can then place them on the run or in the hutch for your rabbits to lean against when they’re feeling warm. Prepare a few bottles so you can swap them around when the first ones have melted.
Your bunnies will also love to eat cool and refreshing things when the sun is out. Try washing the vegetables you are giving to your rabbits with cold water before you bring them out to the hutch.
Other things you can do if you think your rabbits are finding the summer a bit sweaty is to remove all their excess fur. Brush your pets more regularly in summer to make sure they’re not carrying around unnecessary layers. If you think your pets are looking particularly hot you can mist their ears with cool (but not ice cold) water from a spray bottle. Do however make sure the water doesn’t get into the ear canal. Another important thing to think about is the rabbits probably won’t appreciate getting handled during the hottest hours of the day, so leave play time to later in the evening.
It is also very important to know that the risk of fly strike is much higher during the summer months. Fly strike is caused by flies getting attracted to damp fur, urine and faeces and laying their eggs in the rabbit’s bottom. When the maggots are born after a few hours they eat the rabbit’s flesh and release toxins into the body. Fly strike can kill a healthy rabbit who just happens to have loose stools for a day or two, but if you know that your rabbit sometimes struggles to clean itself it is extra important that you check their bottoms daily. If you see any signs of fly strike, contact your vet immediately. The same goes for heat stroke. Don’t panic and dip your rabbit in cold water, instead take your rabbit to a cool room inside to try to lower their body temperature while you phone the vet.
Rabbits are designed to run, and they love hurtling around on the grass, sprinting back and forth and doing big jumps in the air. In the wild, rabbits will run about 3 miles every day, and it’s important to make sure your pet rabbit gets sufficient exercise to stay happy and healthy. Rabbits who are confined to their hutch for most of the day will soon get bored, and will often eat too much, which can lead to obesity. Overweight rabbits will struggle to move the way they want to, and are more likely to suffer from cardiovascular diseases and joint pain. Bored rabbits also tend to over groom themselves, and can get problems with hairballs. You might not be able to give your rabbit a 3 mile run every day, but you should make sure that he or she gets at least 3 hours outside the hutch, so that they can stretch their legs and explore and socialise. The more space you can give them the better. Unless you have a very rabbit proof garden and keep an eye on your pets at all times, letting them run free in the garden is not a good idea. Rabbits are escape artists, and will find ways to get through the safest of garden fences or gates. They also run the risk of predator attacks, and ingesting something poisonous.
A good way of making sure your rabbits get enough exercise is to have hutch that is connected to a run, so that your pet can move in and out of the hutch whenever he or she wants to, like the Eglu Go. You can extend the run to make it bigger, but there is now also another way of giving your rabbits more space.
Omlet’s Zippi runs are cleverly designed playpens for rabbits and guinea pigs that allow you and your kids to spend time with your pets as they are enjoying a new patch of grass in the garden. The optional roof and underfloor mesh keeps the rabbits safe if you want to keep them in the run while you’re not around, and the skirt stops predators from digging in. The runs can easily be moved when the rabbits have trimmed the grass in one area, so you won’t have to get the mower out every weekend!
Many people find moving their rabbits between the run and the hutch a very stressful part of the day. You want your rabbit to have a run around, but you probably don’t fancy chasing them around the run for half an hour every evening when it’s time to go back in. This can be solved with the Zippi tunnel system. If you’ve decided to give your rabbits more space with a new run, you can easily connect these to their hutch and create your own system that the rabbits will love running in, as it’s a version of the warrens they would have created in the wild. The fact is that rabbits who have the freedom of moving in and out of their hutch as they please will happily go back inside by themselves when night falls, and then all you have to do it close the door that gives access to the tunnels.
Make sure you furnish your pets’ new run or play pen with things you know they will love. Maybe you want to give them a few more hideaways? A digging pit? Or maybe a few boredom busting toys to gnaw on.
You can see all the different versions of out Zippi runs and play pens on our website, so that you can find one that suits both you and your pets!
Cats and dogs (and humans) make noises to show others what they feel, want or really don’t like. Rabbits do as well, but they mainly use body language to communicate with other rabbits, and with us. You will most likely not be able to understand everything your rabbit is trying to tell you, but by learning a few things about rabbit body language, you’ll be able to make life a little bit better for your pet.
Lost of postures and vocalisations can mean several things depending on the situation, and can differ somewhat from rabbit to rabbit. It is therefore important to be able to take in accompanying signals that help you see what’s going on.
Rabbits are relatively quiet animals, but they do make a few noises that you’ll be able to differentiate from each other. Here are a few of them: Growling – A short barking growl is a sign of aggression, and indicates that you, or something else close by, is threatening the rabbit.
Screaming – If the rabbit lets out loud, piercing screams he or she is likely to be very scared or experiencing a lot of pain.
Low grunting & grinding of teeth – This is the rabbit equivalent of a cat’s purring, and means that the rabbit is content and relaxed.
Loud teeth grinding & chattering – If the grinding however changes into louder teeth chattering, the rabbit is most likely in a lot of pain.
Thumping – Rabbits drum their feet against the ground when they are afraid or threatened, or want to make others aware of what is going on. Thanks to the rabbit’s strong hind legs, this can be surprisingly loud.
EARS, EYES & NOSE
Rabbits use their ears to tune into what’s going on around them, and they can often be a good indicator of how your rabbit is feeling. If the ears are stood up and are twitching, your rabbit is listening out for something. If they are confident it’s not dangerous, or not particularly interesting, they might only raise one ear. When they are relaxed, the ears will rest against the body, normally along the back.
Rabbits have very expressive eyes, and as they are prey animals, they will only fully close them when they are extremely comfortable and feel completely safe. So if you find your rabbits sleeping with their eyes closed, it is a clear sign that they feel at home. Eyes wide open combined with fluffed up fur and growling indicate fear. The rabbit’s inner eyelids might also protrude and become visible if he or she is uncomfortable.
The nose is also a good indicator how the rabbit is feeling and how interested they are in what is going on around them. The faster the wiggling of the nose, the more attentive or agitated the rabbit is. Rabbits tend to rub their noses in a way to show affection, so if you find your rabbit rubbing their nose on you it’s a sign that they really like you. If they also throw in a little lick, you’re properly loved!
The Classic – Rabbit is sat with weight on the bottom, forelegs straightened and ears standing up. He or she is checking to see what’s going on.
Head on the ground – If the rabbit rests its head on the ground, he or she is showing submission, and might want to be petted or groomed. In different circumstances it can also mean that they want to be left alone, so make sure to take in other signals.
The Ball – Rabbit is sat rolled up with legs tucked, normally with ears resting against the body. He or she is sleeping or napping. Rabbits can sleep with their eyes open, but prefer to keep them closed if they feel comfortable and safe enough.
Belly on the ground – The rabbit is lying on its belly with legs stretched out behind or maybe to the side of the body, with the head either up or resting on the ground. The rabbit is resting, and is relaxed. The further the legs are stretched behind the body, the more comfortable the rabbit is.
Grooming – If the rabbit is grooming itself when you are around it can be seen as a sign that he or she trusts you. Rabbits are prey animals, and will never take their eyes off what they think might be an intruder.
Nose nudge – This can either mean “leave me alone” or “you’re in my way”. It is however also a sign of trust, as you aren’t seen as a threat to the rabbit.
Circling – Sometimes the rabbit starts running around your feet when you’re in the run with him or her. This is a mating ritual, and a sign that he or she is in love with you.
Territorial behaviour – If you have got a new hutch or run, the rabbit will have to make sure that its territory is marked. Rabbits do this by rubbing scent glands on their necks against objects, spraying urine and scattering their dropping around the place. This behaviour normally stops once the rabbit feels at home.
Nest building – If you notice that your female rabbit starts pulling out hair from the fur, and collects hay in a specific place in the hutch, it’s likely that she is building a nest. Rabbits sometimes have false pregnancies, but if you think that there is a possibility that your rabbit might be pregnant, it’s worth contacting your vet.
The bunny flop – Rabbit is rolling on its back with the legs in the air. This is a sign that the rabbit is really happy and relaxed, and the movement can sometimes be combined with a binky, which means that the bunny is running around and dancing madly, often jumping up in the air out of pure happiness.
When the temperatures drops, most rabbit owners know the importance of checking that their pet’s hutch is winter ready.
However, did you know it’s just as important to consider your rabbit’s emotional needs as well?
Brave the cold to give your bunny a cuddle!
An often overlooked problem for rabbits in winter is that they have reduced playtime with their owner. When the weather’s nice, you’ll often be outside even if you’re not specifically going out to see your rabbit. You and your pet will benefit from lots of regular visibility. However, in the winter when you’re not going outside as much, you and your rabbit will also be missing out on regular contact and this will have a significant impact on your rabbits’ health. Even if kept with other rabbits, they can still miss you and feel lonely. Brave the cold and get outside to maintain as much of their normal routine as possible. And remember rabbits are crepuscular meaning they are most active at dusk and dawn so even when it’s dark you can still pop out to see them, it’s unlikely you’ll disturb their sleep.
As well as less playtime with their owner, less exercise is also an unhealthy side effect of the winter months. It is incredibly important you do all you can to avoid this affecting your rabbits’ health.
Consider a hutch with a run attached so that your rabbits have access to space for exercise during the day. A large walk in run also makes it easier for you to play with your rabbit, as there is space inside for you to join them, and you and your rabbits can be protected from the elements by covers over the top and around the sides of the run.
If your rabbits’ hutch is not attached to a run, the Zippi Tunnel System is an excellent solution to link these two together, and provide rabbits with easy access to a larger area for exercise when they choose. You can also open the run in the morning and close in the evening by using the door on the Zippi Tunnel entrance.
Provide lots of dry bedding in their hutch and if your rabbit’s get really wet then you can dry your rabbits with a towel after outdoor activity. Check there is food and water available in the run, as well as a shelter and toys. You can even place some bedding in the run to encourage exercise when it is cold.
Your rabbits’ home
In winter, ensure that your rabbits’ home is waterproof, dry and ventilated. A common problem with standard wooden hutches is that they can become damp and cold from leaks and drafts. If you do have a wooden hutch, it is important to check the home for damp patches regularly. You will also need to remove any wet bedding promptly as this can freeze.
Consider moving your hutch closer to your house, in a sheltered area to protect it from wind and rain and make it easier for you to check on your bunnies regularly.
Provide your rabbits with extra bedding to keep them warmer during these colder months, and you may also want to purchase a safe microwavable heat pad to place underneath bedding if temperatures drop below freezing.
Ensure your rabbits have access to clean drinking water at all times, as they will likely drink more in winter, and check this is not frozen on particularly cold days. As well as hay, provide your rabbits with some leafy greens as these may be in short supply for them in your garden at this time of year.
Some owners bring their rabbits indoors for winter. This can be a great way to keep pets warm and healthy in the colder months, however, the process needs to be carefully managed. Moving your rabbits into a different habitat can be a stressful change, which should be done gradually. Remove all hazards and cables from ground level in the rooms which your rabbits will have access to, provide a dark sleeping spot, and place familiar items from the outside hutch into the home.
We recommend seeking further advice from animal welfare experts such as the RSPCA or your vet if moving your rabbits indoors.
If this is not an option for you, or if your wooden hutch is looking a little worse for wear, and not providing your rabbits with the warm, dry shelter, they require, consider upgrading to a insulated waterproof hutch, such as the Eglu Go, which offers complete protection against the elements.
The Eglu Go Hutch has a unique twin wall insulation system which works in a similar way to double glazing to keep your rabbit’s home well insulated, while the draught-free ventilation system allows fresh air in without blowing cold air over the bedding area. The removable bedding tray can be slid out and cleaned quickly making it easier for you to meet your rabbits’ needs and maintain their dry living conditions.
Watch this video to see how easily the Eglu Go Hutch can be made completely winterproof…
Why Settle For A Hutch When You Can Have A Warren?
We all know that pet rabbits need a hutch and a run. But what if they could enjoy the luxuries of a warren in your own back garden, complete with rabbit burrows and tunnels, without having to dig under the lawn and flower beds?
Connecting a rabbit hutch to a run is a simple way to keep bunnies happy. A set up such as Omlet’s Eglu Go is part of the solution, combining the indoors and outdoors that rabbits require. But there are other, more ingenious ways of giving your bunnies the perfect home.
Drain Pipes For Rabbits?
Like all animals, rabbits have inbuilt instincts that need satisfying. Rabbit tunnels and rabbit burrows are as central to their requirements as a bathroom and a comfy bed are to you. In the wild, rabbits live in complex warrens, made up of many private and communal living spaces linked by underground tunnels. This instinct to move around underground is strong in pet bunnies too. And yet, for many, it is an instinct that remains unsatisfied.
This was the inspiration behind the Zippi Rabbit Tunnel System, a design that builds and improves on the concept of drain pipes for rabbits. Its durable, flexible, easy-to-clean tunnels are a neat DIY solution that gives rabbits the tunnelling their instincts demand, and with no extra digging required.
A Rabbit Tunnel, And Then Some!
The Zippi Rabbit Tunnel System’s burrow pipes provide easy access from hutch to run, and a cosy bolt hole too. They can link runs to playpens too, enabling your kids to become part of the home warren.
Because rabbits come in all sizes, the Zippi Rabbit Tunnel System is built to accommodate the very largest of breeds, and is designed with a flexibility that puts the average drainpipe to shame:
It comes in 90cm sections, with no limit on the length and complexity of your set up.
All fixings and connectors are supplied.
The Zippi doesn’t think in straight lines – it can curve around any garden feature if required.
In addition to the standard 90cm tunnel, there are optional Zippi T-Junctions, Corner Pieces, Lock-out doors, and mid-tunnel Look-out sections which double as Hay Racks.
Support hoops lift the Zippi from the ground, enabling the grass to grow beneath it.
The unique design provides ventilation and drainage, and keeps out any would-be predators.
Rabbits make great pets. They don’t disturb the peace, they don’t hunt birds and rodents, and they don’t require constant walking and training. Coupled with the fact that they are cute and full of character, this has made them a hugely popular choice of pet in recent years.
But it’s not just about keeping you happy, it’s about delivering the bunny bliss your pet deserves. With a hutch and run, you’ve provided a cosy home. But add the Zippi Rabbit Tunnel System, and you’ve got a wonderful warren that represents the ultimate des res for rabbits.
Rabbit teeth never stop growing and it is very important to keep a regular check on them. Rabbits have 28 teeth. Some signs of overgrown teeth are lack of appetite, listlessness and weight loss. Always seek expert advice about this.
Rabbits live for between 4 – 8 years. Giant Rabbits generally live shorter lives – approx 4 -5 years. Dwarf breeds have a longer life span and can live for as long as eight years and in some rare cases, it has been documented, for even longer.
Rabbits’ eyes are on the sides of the head, giving them excellent vision all the way around, with a small blind spot at the point directly in front of them and directly behind them. As prey animals, this trait enables them to keep a lookout for predators.
Rabbits cannot sweat. They release heat over their body surface, especially the ears.
Rabbits have 5 toes on each front paw and 4 toes on each hind paw, so 18 total.
A Rabbit’s pregnancy lasts 28-31 days and an average litter has 6-10 babies.
A female Rabbit is called a doe
A male Rabbit is called a buck.
A young Rabbit is called a kit (or kitten)
Baby Rabbits are born with their eyes closed, and the eyes do not begin to open until around the age of two weeks old.
More than half of the world’s rabbits live in North America.
Rabbits are crepuscular which means they snooze all day and are most active in the early morning and in the evening.
When a rabbit is very happy, it jumps up into the air, twisting and flicking its feet and head. This movement is known as a binky!
Rabbits chew 120 times a minute and have over 17,000 taste buds.
We’ve been in touch with Niki from Jasper’s Bunny Hotel who offer luxurious glamping breaks for Rabbits and Guinea Pigs in our world famous Eglu Rabbit Hutches!!
Their website informs customers that holiday homes are all standard with daily room service, full menu of fresh food including fruit and vegetables for guinea pigs and rabbits, cool fresh water and a selection of toys for activities. Plus plenty of fresh grass and safe outdoor play areas for those who like a little exercise.
It sounds delightful….. so we decided to find out more about this fantastic bunny hotel…..
How long has Jasper’s Bunny Hotel been running?
We originally opened for bunny holidays back in December 2014, the idea was to have some large hutches for bunnies to have holidays rather than using breeding stacks of hutches. This initial idea worked well for a few bunnies who like to live indoors but we did spend a lot of time transporting them outside to wooden runs on the grass and then trying to catch them again to put them away! I was always concerned about predators, I used to peg the runs down with tent pegs and pile bricks around the outside to stop the foxes from digging in – but I was still always worried and had to spend all my time checking that all was well.
When did you get your first Eglu ?
Prior to moving to our current property we had bought an Omlet Eglu Cube and kept some chickens and so I thought about looking on the website for something similar for bunnies and guinea pigs. We now have 12 Eglu’s and one of the large walk-in runs.
How many Rabbit’s and Guinea Pigs can you look after at any one time?
This summer when I was at full capacity, I had 7 rabbits from the same family sharing a 4m Eglu and between 2 and 3 rabbits in each other Eglu, as well as some indoor bunnies, so we had around 44 bunnies and 30 guinea pigs in our care.
Why do you like Eglu’s
I love them because they can be jetwashed for hygiene, the bunnies and guinea pigs are safe and in a natural environment – we move them around at least weekly and certainly every time a new bunny or piggy arrives – they are colourful and almost indestructible – we only have one that’s been slightly chewed but the others look pretty much good as new!
Many of my customers have gone on to ditch their wooden hutches and replace them with Eglus once they have seen how brilliant they are and how much freedom the bunnies and piggies have.
What is the longest time that a rabbit has ‘glamped’ with you?
The longest time that we have had a bunny with us was three months – we have regular customers that come back to us three or four times per year and say that they wouldn’t go anywhere else.
Do rabbits travel far and wide to visit Jasper’s Bunny Hotel?
People book with us up to a year in advance and travel from 20-30 miles away for their bunny holidays.
Interested in updating your Rabbit Hutch to an Eglu?
The hutch is easy to clean and insulated and comes complete with under floor mesh, making it perfect for all-year use and rabbits will love being able to hop in and out of the fox-resistant run as they please. Click her to find out more!
For more information about Jasper’s Bunny Hotel please visit their website – http://www.jaspersbunnyhotel.co.uk/