Keeping your rabbit cool in the summer heat can be a stressful thing. Heat is their worst enemy even more than the cold.
There is only so much you can do and it is a fine line you have to walk because you are not helping them by bringing them into your home where it is air-conditioned.
Here are some ideas to help you keep them cool during the hottest times of the year.
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Keep Your Rabbitry Cool With The Right Positioning
You may not have a lot of options depending on your property but if you have a choice think about where you keep their shelter. Whether it is in a barn, lean-to style hutch with hanging cages, or a normal outdoor hutch, try to position their living space in the shade as much as possible.
Even if you can’t have the entire area in the shade try to have it covered during the heat of the day.
Trees are nature’s cooling system and I was blessed to have the space to have all of my rabbit herd under a canopy of trees. When I walk from one part of the yard to the area where they are I can feel the temperatures drop several degrees and it is far less humid. There is no way I could keep this herd alive in the heat of summer without having some kind of shade.
So with that said, if you can be choosy about where they are, take advantage of that and watch the movement of the sun throughout the day as well. You would hate to have everything set up then realize that the sun it’s them straight on during the hottest part of the day.
If you have to chose let them get the morning sun and have shade during the afternoon and evening.
The Breed Matters
Now I realize if you love a breed, by all means, try it. But some breeds are going to do better in certain climates than others. I had a good friend who lives in the southern states remind me that french lops are not easily found in the south especially any further than the Carolinas because of the heat.
So with that said even though I live in the north, I would have to be especially careful with a wooled breed in the summer. So just think about that before you buy a breed and end up with more effort then you planned.
Keep Your Animals Cool Fans
This is the next thing that will help you keep your animals cool. Whether it is a cattle fan, an old window box fan or personal size ten-dollar fan you can use these with any animals.
I have a rig that was borderline a death trap of cords for anyone over 5 feet tall but with a few hooks and zip ties, you can run extension cords to each fan without having a spider web to dodge during the feeding time.
Here are some of the fans and helpful supplies.
If you are trying to get power any distance outside use a good outdoor cord. If you use something that was intended for indoor use outside you run the risk of getting water/damaging the wires and you could run the risk of damaging more then just your cord with an electrical fire.
Here is a nice personal size fan that you can use on individual canges. Just make sure to clean them out EVERY season. No matter the breed you have they will collect fur around the back of the blades slowing down the motor.
These velcro straps work grate for binding cords to tame the spiderweb you will have if you try to get fans out on each of your hutches.
With this outdoor timer, you can set it so the fans will come on at the right time and not run 24hrs 7 days a week. That will cut drastically into the life of the fan.
There are so many different things you can stick in the freezer to help your animals out.
- Fill bottles, 2leaters, or jugs with water and freeze them.
- Another neat thing you can do is freeze stone or ceramic floor tile and put them with the rabbit to lay on.
- Freeze their drinking water a little bit to make it cold and with a little bit of ice. Not totally frozen because if they lick it they could still get their tung stuck.
Just get creative and see what you can come up with.
Signs Your Rabbit Is Overheated
So how do we know if your rabbit feeling a little on the warms side? If you have had them for any length of time you will learn to read them well. It just comes with part of being a rabbit raiser. But here are some things to watch out for.
Excessive panting and laying on their sides is a clear sign they are getting warm. Although be careful because the lop breeds tend to lay on their sides or halfway upside down when they are sleeping.
What many don’t know is a rabbit’s ears their cooling system and thermometer. So when keeping an eye on your rabbits in the heat feel their ears to see how hot they really are. Sometimes they are panting heavily but their body temp is not as bad as it might seem.
The heavy painting can look pretty bad but they are just staying cool.
You can also use a spray bottle and mist the tops of their ears (not in the ear canal) to help them cool down. If you raise a lop-eared rabbit breed you will likely find them dipping their ears in their water bowl on their own if you use bowls instead of bottles.
Prevention is easier than having to save an animal from heatstroke. Pay attention to the weather (here is my favorite site to check) in your area to be ready for it.