How do I protect my rabbits from heat?
Rabbits are extremely heat-sensitive pets. They ́re often exposed to heat during summer months. As a careful owner you can implement some measures to keep them cool and protected from heat.
- Ventilate the rooms your rabbits live in at night, in the mornings and in the evenings. Furthermore, you should keep all windows closed during the day, so that heat can ́t reach your flat. If there ́s extreme heat you ́re supposed to close the shutters all day long. Use an air conditioner in case it is available.
- Offer your rabbit (in an outdoor enclosure) shadow-areas , preferably natural caused shadows (e.g. from bushes or trees). Make sure the heat can ́t build up under the shade provider (air permeability shade provider, enough open sides for air circulation). Caution: The sun changes its position!
- On a balcony or a veranda, you can use bushes planted in pots as natural shadow.
- If there ́s an abnormal and extreme heat, especially when you can ́t provide enough natural shadows, the rabbits should be brought to a cooler place on really hot days. These places could be located in your house, your cellar or in your garage (build an emergency-enclosure before).
- Always provide enough fresh water and a lot of fresh food and greens (put it in the shade!) so the rabbit gets enough liquid. Particular groceries, like cucumbers, watermelons and sugar melons have got a high share of water.
- Put flagstones or tiles on a cool place in the enclosure, most of the rabbits use them as chilly spots to lay down. On hot days you can refrigerate the flagstones with cold water.
- Offer your rabbits cool spots with wet towels to lay on.
- Lay down frozen objects (for instance a water-filled frozen plastic-bottle, don ́t fill it completely!) in the enclosure. Yet you have to be aware: the object always needs to be wrapped in a towel or cloth, it shouldn ́t lay there without a covering!
- Long-haired rabbits are supposed to get a summer- haircut to stand the heat. Especially on their butts they need to be well styled in order to avoid poop sticking on the fur that could lead to a fly maggot infestation. With a Furminator (special brush) you can thin out undercoat.
- Offer a larger bowl (e.g. a cage tub, an old baking sheet) with moist soil or give your rabbit an opportunity to dig a hollow itself. Therefore the ground might be watered . Rabbits like to lay down on moist soil or into cool grass on shade locations.
- The burrowing-box can be moistened with some water as well.
- Never and in no case put your rabbit outside in closed containers (like transportation boxes, rabbit hutches or cages). Particularly in summer, rabbits need a well structured enclosure with many shadow-spots and sufficient space (not mini outdoor enclosures!) in their outdoor habitat.
- Avoid transport . Move the rabbit (if transport is necessary) in the evening, at night or in the early morning/dawn hours to the destination. Alternatively, use a car that has air condition (don ́t put the rabbits in the draft!).
- Control rabbits that tend to get diarrhea , overweight or weakened/sick/old pets daily on their butts to recognize fly maggot infestation (Link!) and soilings as soon as possible. If you see little white eggs in the fur, immediately attend the veterinary emergency service! Remove soilings on the butt and take rabbits with diarrhea or cystitis inside in order to clean them better and to protect them from flies.
- Some stores offer chilled ceilings for dogs that slowly dispense cold water as evaporative cold. You can put them into the enclosure yet they need to be wrapped in wire (protection against bites) and then wrapped in a towel due to its toxicity!
- An upside down plastic or clay pot coaster can provide cooling if you place cool packs under it and a towel or cloth on top. Rabbits like to lay on the pot coasters to cool down. Please never put cooling blocks unprotected into the enclosure, they can be nibbled on and are extremely poisonous!
- Moreover, cooling blocks can be wrapped in mesh wire (in order to avoid nibbling) and covered with a towel or cloth for a cooling purpose.
Translation: Maxi H.