Did you know that rabbits can tolerate cold weather much easier than they can tolerate heat? With the temperatures on the rise around much of the country, it's important to make sure you protect your rabbits from the summer heat.
The ideal temperature for rabbits is from about 55*F - 70*F. If it gets much hotter than 70*F, your rabbit will probably start to feel uncomfortable. Remember, they have to wear a fur coat all year round! Rabbits can actually die from being overheated, so it's very important to provide them with some relief from the heat.
Keep your rabbit out of the sun. Make sure they have shade and cool areas to rest. If your rabbit is caged, you can drape thin towels or sheets over sections of the cage to create a shaded area. There are also a number of different types of hides and houses that you can buy to provide your rabbit with a shaded shelter. Even a simple wooden shelter made with rabbit safe woods is better than nothing.
Indoors with the family is the safest place for a pet rabbit. It's usually much easier to provide a nice cool environment for an indoor rabbit than it would be for one living outdoors. Indoors you can use appliances like air conditioners and fans to keep the room your rabbit is in at a more tolerable temperature. Don't let fans blow directly on your rabbit for long periods of time. An oscillating fan placed near the rabbits cage would work well.
Damp towels placed on top of the cage when there is a breeze from a window or a fan can help to bring down the air temperature. Or, you can put wet towels in your freezer then give them to your rabbits to lay on. You could also place frozen water bottles or tiles in your rabbits favorite resting areas to give them something nice and cool to lay against if they need to cool off. Ice cubes can be used to keep your bunnies water cool.
Make sure to keep your rabbit well groomed. Brush them regularly to remove any loose hair. On really hot days, you can gently dampen your rabbits ears. Rabbit's large ears help to regulate their temperature and getting them damp can help keep your rabbit cooler.
It's also important to make sure your pets stay well hydrated. Keep an eye on your rabbits water levels to make sure they are drinking, and offer plenty of fresh veggies to help increase their fluid intake.
Know the signs of rabbit heat stroke and what to do if you see your rabbit displaying any of these signs. Common symptoms of a rabbit overheating can include panting, drooling, acting lethargic, reddening of the ears, general weakness, acting confused, and convolutions. If you notice any of these symptoms, you can help cool your rabbit down by lightly misting their ears with cool water. Do not submerse a rabbit in water as this can cause shock. Get your rabbit to a vet ASAP for treatment before it's too late - heat stroke is a common cause of death for rabbits in the hot summer months.