The best way to keep your rabbit cool in the summer may depend on where they live. If you have an indoor rabbit turn the air conditioner up, but if you have an outdoor rabbit make sure they have proper shade to keep them cool their hutch.
Rabbits living arrangements don’t always impact how you can keep them cool, many of the solutions will work for both indoor and outdoor rabbits. Things like frozen water bottles, ice cubes in their water, and cold compresses on their ears would work for any rabbit that suffers from the heat.
Domestic rabbits are unable to handle high temperatures. A rabbit exposed to 85° F could suffer from heat stroke, and those who are unprotected in 95° F heat could die. This is why it is so important we keep our rabbits cool in the summer.
What are the 10 Ways to Keep a Rabbit Cool?
1. Turn up the Air Conditioner. If you have an indoor rabbit move their cage closer to an AC vent will help cool your rabbit down. Moving your rabbit closer to the AC will also reduce the need to set the thermostat to an uncomfortably low temperature.
If you have an outdoor rabbit, bring them into an air-conditioned environment will help keep them safe. Using a playpen is an excellent option to contain your rabbit indoors for the day. After the sun sets and the temperatures outside lower to a reasonable level you can move the rabbit back to their hutch.
2. Frozen Water Bottles and Ice Packs – Simply fill plastic containers, part way, with water then stick them in the freezer. You do not want to overfill these because the plastic may crack as the water freezes and expands.
Two-liter bottles work great for this, but smaller bottles will work too. Some rabbits prefer a rectangle snap top container they can sit on. Any freezer-safe water-tight container will work.
Non-toxic hard sided freezer packs work just as well. Using a gel pack will work if you wrap it, but they are easier for rabbits to chew on and also do not retain the cold as well.
Once frozen you can stick the bottles or packs directly into the cage. However, some rabbits prefer them wrapped in fabric. If you opt to cover the containers in cloth, it will take a bit longer for your rabbit to reap the benefits from these. However, the covered frozen bottles sometimes retain the cold longer.
One thing to keep in mind is that it takes several hours to freeze a two-liter bottle, so it’s recommended to have multiple bottles in the freezer to rotate them as needed.
Rabbits will lay on the side of the frozen bottles or on top of the freezer packs or containers to keep cool. Don’t be concerned about your rabbit getting too cold from the containers. Rabbits prefer cold weather, and their fur keeps them from harm when exposed to the ice for an extended period.
3. Cold Damp Cloth for the Rabbits Ears – A rabbit’s ears are one of the best indicators as to how warm your rabbit is. If a rabbit’s ears are warm, red, and the veins are pronounced it means they are hot.
One easy way to help make them more comfortable is to cool down their ears. Simply, run a cloth under freezing cold water then wring it out well. You want to keep water out of your rabbit’s ears, so make sure the towel is just damp and not saturated. Next, gently press the cloth to the inside of the rabbit’s ears.
Another option would be to take that same damp cloth and put it in the freezer for 10-15 minutes and press to the outer side of the ears. Pressing the cloth to the outside of their ears prevents water from dribbling into their ears as the cloth thaws.
4. Ceramic Tiles – A great way to help your rabbit stay cool is to line their living area in ceramic tiles. Ceramic tiles naturally stay cooler and are easy to install into their cage.
The other option is to place tiles in the freezer for 15-20 minutes then set them in the cage or hutch. Though this is similar to the ice pack method, it’s the safer option if your rabbit likes to chew on the ice packs.
On particularly hot days use the ice packs and ceramic tiles to cool your rabbit down faster and more effectively.
5. Keep their Water Cool and Fresh – Change their water more frequently to assist your rabbit to stay hydrated. Keep your rabbit hydrated to aid them in regulating their internal temperature, through better circulation.
Most rabbits don’t like warm water, so change the water to encourage them to drink more. You do not want to use overly cold water because it can give your rabbit brain freeze, which we all know is not fun.
6. Ice Cubes in their Water – If you add a couple ice cubes to the water it will help keep the water cool without causing brain freeze. This works exceptionally well in water bottles and is an excellent alternative if you are unable to change out their water frequently.
7. Groom your Rabbit – Keep your rabbit well-groomed will increase air circulation to their body, which in turn will aid in regulating their body temperature.
8. Provide Proper Shade and Protection from the Sun – If you have an outside hutch, the roof is not enough protection from the sun. If you can, move the pen to an area with more shade or if possible, provide a structure that will keep them shaded. Tent canopies can be an inexpensive and easy way to give your rabbit the shade they need.
If you decide to go with a more permanent structure be sure to have a high enough roof, so the heat isn’t trapped underneath.
If you have an indoor rabbit move their cage away from windows and out of direct sunlight. If you are unable to move their cage try a window shade explicitly designed to help keep heat out.
9. Fans & Misters – Fans are great to help cool a rabbit down, be sure they do not have access to the cord. If using a fan, you can drape a damp towel over the top of the cage to add additional relief from the heat. Do not drape a towel over the entire cage as it will cut off air circulation.
Misters are another excellent solution. Many misters can be easily mounted to the outside of the cage. Portable misters tend to fit smaller cages best. Plus, most misters are under $50, so you won’t break the bank.
10. Washed and Wet Greens – Wash your rabbit’s greens then put them directly in the rabbit’s enclosure, do not dry or shake them off. The additional cold water will help cool the rabbit and keep them hydrated.
Bonus Tip 11. Cooling Pet Pads – There are three main cooling pet pad varieties. First, the style you put in the freezer, second the one you add cold water to, and the third is weight activated, so no need for water or freezing. None of the three pet pad options require electricity, which makes them a safe and convenient option
These are just eleven different things you can do to help your rabbit stay cool this summer. Many of these options work better together to provide maximum results.
Rabbits overheating in the summer is a serious issue. Because rabbits are so vulnerable to high temperatures, they get heat stroke quickly.
If you suspect your rabbit has heat stroke do NOT put them in a cold bath, the extreme temperature change can cause their bodies to go into shock. Instead, use cold compresses or ice packs and rush them to your veterinarian.
Rabbits have delicate internal systems, so to drop their internal core temperatures to a normal level needs to be done slowly and efficiently.
What are the Signs Your Rabbit has Heat Stroke?
Some of the common signs and symptoms your rabbit is suffering from heat stroke are:
- Labored breathing
- They are lethargic and listless
- Damp fur under their nose
- Hot feet and ears
The best way to keep your rabbit safe and cool is to take preventative measures. It’s easier to keep your rabbit cool than it is to cool them down after temperature has skyrocketed.
What Preventative Measures Can I Take to Keep my Rabbit Cool?
- Pay attention to the weather. If you know you have a heat wave coming, freeze water bottles early, so they are all set to go.
- Be proactive, on hot days put frozen water bottles in the rabbit’s cage in the morning, this way rabbits can cool themselves before the day gets too hot.
- Check where your outside hutch is located, does it face south or does it need more shade? If so, move it now before the hot weather.
- Install a mister or fan now so that it is ready to go on the hot days. Also, turn it on in the morning, before the heat peaks to keep the rabbits comfortable all day.
Why don’t wild rabbits have issues staying cool? Rabbits that live in the wild burrow underground and rest in the cool earth during the day. They come out at night once things have cooled down to eat.
Can I build an underground burrow for my rabbit? Yes, you can make an underground burrow for your rabbit. Underground burrow plans can be found online.
Should I shave my rabbit to keep them cool? No, if you shave your rabbit’s fur, they will lose their natural heat barrier. Also, if the rabbit is exposed to sunlight, they could get a sunburn.