Bunny WINTER Care Information
With the cold winter months approaching it is very important you follow some very simple procedures to be assured your bunny is comfortable & safe!
The information contained here is only a guide and should be a start to your knowledge about the care of your bunny. Please go to your local library or bookstore and get at least 1 book on rabbit care and nutrition. Be sure to visit our page on bunny care for everyday.
2 week old Black Otter Rex
Cage cleaning – Even more importantly in the cold months you need to keep your rabbit’s home clean to maintain good health. Hutches and cages should be cleaned AT LEAST once a week if not more often. If the cage has a drop pan, fill it with wood shavings or shredded paper.
Feed bowls - Check the bowls daily for cleanliness & to make sure water has not frozen. Feed should not be left in the feed bowls more than 1 day. It can become damp and can be a health hazard.
Food storage - Your rabbit feed should be kept in dry, air tight container. Plastic or metal garbage cans work very well for this. The feed container should also be cleaned regularly to keep bacteria from building up. Feed should not be stored for more than a month with out being used, as the ingredients will start to lose their nutritional value. Be sure to keep it dry.
Water - Rabbits require clean, fresh water daily. They should be provided with as much water as they can drink, check them several times during the day. Remember water will freeze quickly in a water bottle, you may need to switch to a water dish. With a dish your bunny will at least have access to ice to lick. Be sure to pop out the ice & refill with fresh water at least 2 times a day. As water is essential in keeping rabbits healthy, you must be certain that they are drinking water daily. If your rabbit stops drinking, it may be a sign your animal is not feeling well. Be sure to clean the drinking equipment regularly to insure good health. A simple washing with warm water and bleach, and then allowing it to dry in the sun, if possible, works very well. In cleaning water bottles, remember to clean the spout as well as the inside of the bottle This can be done with a narrow brush or Q-tip.
Repair cages - Check your hutches or cages weekly to make sure there are no broken wires or splintered boards that your rabbit could get hurt on. If you see any signs of wear, get it fixed as soon as possible.
Check your rabbit daily for any signs of deteriorating health. Doing this on a regular basis will help expedite any treatments you may need. Check to make sure your bunny is drinking water, eating its feed, not showing signs of diarrhea, etc. Know what your rabbit should weigh and check it periodically. If your rabbit stops eating check to make sure it is getting enough water. A rabbit will not eat if it is not getting water.
Most scratches come from toenails that are too long and need to be clipped. Long toenails can also cause injuries to the rabbit. Do not clip the toenail back into the quick, but try to keep them trimmed down.
Housing - Decide which housing best suits your needs based on the size of animals you have and where you intend to place them. There are many styles of housing, ranging from all wire pens to wooden hutches. Wire pens work well in enclosed areas such as barns, basements, garages, etc. The wooden hutch is suitable for outside housing. As rabbits are natural gnawers, they will chew on wood or wire, so in purchasing or making your cages, be sure the material will hold up to the task. Be sure to fill the inside house portion of your rabbits cage with pine shavings, for added warmth you can give him some timothy hay to burrow in.
Cage size - The size of your cage or hutch should depend on the size of your rabbit. The giant breeds such as FLEMISH GIANTS (over 12 pounds) require large areas, and their cage should be at least 30" x 36" or 36"x48". Medium breeds, such as REX, (7 - 12 pounds) should have cages 24"x30" to 30"x36". The smaller breeds, such as MINI LOPS, can be housed in cages 24"x24" or MINI REX in 18"x24". A general rule of thumb is 3/4 of a square foot per pound of mature body weight.
Cage Placement - Rabbits can be kept indoors or out. Preferably, they should not be moved in and out for long periods of time as they will get used to the temperature only to be moved again, this could make your rabbit sick. Be very careful if bringing your rabbit in during the winter. Do not move him directly inside from being out in the cold. He needs an adjustment period to get used to the temperature change. You can put him in an unused garage or basement for a few days to get used to the temperature change. If they are placed outdoors, they can do extremely well as long as you take some precautions. They do need to be kept out of drafts and kept dry. Be sure to place the cage near a windbreak, a building or a row of bushes works well. Rabbits always need proper ventilation, whether outside or inside. You can put plastic around the outside of weather side of the hutch. Cages or hutches can also be placed in garages, basements, barns, sheds, etc. Remember, however, there must always be good ventilation and it should be easy for you to access the cages for taking care of your rabbit.
Toys - rabbits enjoy toys & they should be provided with some to relieve boredom. Excellent toys can be purchase or homemade. Empty cat food cans (be sure there are no sharp edges), empty plastic jars with lids on (so they cannot be chewed), empty tuna cans (again, no sharp edges), & golf balls are all excellent choices your bunny might enjoy. If you chose to purchase your toys be sure to buy ones made for rabbits, ferrets or cats. Anything that is too hard to chew & too small to swallow is fine. Balls made for cats with bells in them are favorites. They can also be given chew bones made for dogs that are made from veggies & fruits. There are several brands out there, just make sure the one you chose contains all fruit & veggies products (no meat by products).
We carry an assortment of bunny friendly supplies & accessories. Water bottles, cages, chew toys, etc are usually available. E-mail for details or see the Supplies for sale page for a listing & prices.