We’ve had some insane heat the past few days. Summers around here are usually pretty mild. Temperatures are typically in the 80’s or low 90’s, so for it to be 100 degrees for multiple days in a row… That was rough.
Rabbits don’t do well in the heat, so we have to take some extra steps to keep them comfortable in the summer.
The first and most obvious step is to make sure they have plenty of shade. Our rabbit shed is pretty well shaded, but I did notice some afternoon sun peaking in so I set up a few more boards to make sure they stay sheltered.
2. Air Circulation
Having fans blowing on your rabbits will help circulate the air and keep them cool. Last year we had our rabbits set up in the garage where it was cooler, so we only needed one fan. This year, I bought a box fan for them and put one of our spare indoor fans on them too. It would be nice to have a couple more box fans on them – I just need to figure out a better way to set them up.
3. Frozen Water Bottles
Once it hits around 2 or 3pm, I put frozen 2 liter water bottles in their cages with them. The rabbits like to lick them and lay up against them to help them cool off. That really helps them get through the hottest part of the day. Since my little angoras have so much fur, and there are four of them in their cage, they get lots of frozen bottles.
4. Plenty of Water
This hopefully goes without saying, but rabbits drink a lot more water when it’s hot. So make sure they always have plenty of it. On hotter days I put ice cubes in their water bottles so they have nice cool water to drink.
Dangers of Extreme Heat
Normally those four steps are enough to keep our rabbits plenty comfortable, but yesterday was another story.
It got up to 104 degrees at our house, and the rabbits were showing signs of heatstroke. They were breathing very quickly, and had their mouths open (which is not normal, and was quite alarming for me). It had just reached the hottest point in the day, and all of their frozen water bottles were already melted. I knew they were suffering and if I didn’t do something soon, they would probably die.
So I brought NINE rabbits into my house.
I put the dog in her crate, and lugged those nine hot bunnies inside. It was an emergency situation, and there was nothing more I could do for them out there. Thankfully I recently inherited a bunch of carrying cages, so I was able to craft enough containment units to keep them separated. I didn’t want any fighting or breeding in my house – the situation was stressful enough as it was.
Once the temperature got back down into the 80s, I took everyone back outside and spent the evening cleaning up their messes.
Gratitude for Lessons Learned
I hope we never EVER have to do that again, but I’m so grateful we were able to keep all of our rabbits safe and cool. I’m grateful that we were able to get our hands on AC units before the heatwave hit, and that the power didn’t go out.
It was a crappy situation, but it made us more aware of the dangers of heat – something we usually don’t have to worry about in our mild climate. We will be setting up a new woodshed in the back yard, and that will help provide more shade from the afternoon sun for our rabbits. We also have a sugar maple and some walnut trees growing back there that will help a ton as they get bigger.
Thankfully the rabbits in our grow-out tractor did just fine. They had more shade during the hottest part of the day, and are directly on the ground so they were able to stay much cooler.