Even though rabbits are considered to be fragile animals, they can still live up to 8-9 years. Which means they are capable of surviving 8-9 winters in their lifetime? So, it must be interesting to know how rabbits survive winter. Rabbits have a normal body temperature of 38.3 – 39.4 degrees celsius (which is 101-103 Fahrenheit). Usually, rabbits produce their body heat from food. They oxidize the glucose and fat from the food they get and this helps produce the heat. Rabbits are not safe in cold environments.
Pet/Domestic rabbits and their food habit in winter
Rabbits’ diets, in general, are made of freshwater, grass, leafy greens, hay, pellets, etc. In winter they chew onto the bark of trees (Bark is the outer covering of trees), small branches of trees. And their body heat is also produced from these foods. They do not gain weight in winter and their weight stays very consistent throughout their whole life. Changes in their diet and weight can lead to serious health issues.
For the domestic rabbits, staying out in winter is not safe as they are delicate animals so staying outside in winter can be harsh for them. A little change in the temperature can be very harmful to them. That is why it is necessary to keep the temperature constant. And in winter it is even more important to keep a steady temperature in their room.
The temperature should be checked frequently to make sure that they are not cold. Domestic rabbits’ body temperature should be around 38.3 degrees Celsius or 39.4 degrees Celsius in the winter. If their body temperature goes below 38.3 degrees celsius then the rabbits should be checked if they have hypothermia which requires immediate attention and action.
Wild rabbits and their food habit in winter
In the case of wild rabbits, they find a shelter where they can be safe and comfortable during the winter. Wild rabbits take shelter in thick bushes, evergreen trees, and solid fences. Rabbits dig burrows to be safe from the cold in winter. But sometimes they just stay in the burrows which have already been dug. They use the previously dug burrows because they have to save energy by not digging any new burrows. So rabbits also change their colors in winter so that they blend in with nature. They normally do not go out of their shelters in the winter because they are in energy-saving mode. Going outside can be dangerous in the winter.
As stated above rabbits are not safe in cold weather but it is surprising to know that they do not suffer very much in the winter. In fact, they are quite comfortable with the chilly, cold weather. This applies to both domestic and wild rabbits. The reason rabbits do not tend to suffer in winter is that they grow thick fur during winter. They are very comfortable staying outside during winter because of the heat made from the thick fur. They grow fur on their feet and the pad as well.
But has to be kept in mind that changing their location can be harmful to their health. If changing the location of the rabbits are a must then it has to be made sure that the temperature of both places is similar.
Baby Rabbits in Winter-
Young rabbits have their baby fur coat till six months. In the Case of baby pet rabbits, they should be kept inside the home during the winter. Baby rabbits’ fur has to stay dry all the time. Getting their fur wet can lead to a drop in their body temperature. If the rabbits stay outside then careful supervision needs to be done to keep their houses dry with a secure roof and dry ground.
How rabbits survive winter-
It is assumed that rabbits hibernate during winter. But this is absolutely not true in the cases of rabbits. Rabbits are mammals and mammals hibernate in the winter, not in the case of the rabbits. Rabbits spend winter-like every other season of the year. The only difference is that they grow thick fur during the winter to cope with the cold weather. They have to have enough food supply to eat and grow their body heat.
In the case of wild rabbits, when the stored food is nearly consumed they go out in search of the food. This happens very early in the morning or late at night. The reason they choose these two times is that there is much less disturbance in these mentioned times. Also, there are fewer chances of getting encountered by any predator in the early morning and late at night. This is the reason they are not seen during the winter by many people. There are times when the winter gets harsh. This harsh winter is not friendly for any animal let alone rabbits.
How to Protect Rabbits from COLD WEATHER
Over the 50 years, this species has been reduced by 86%. Rabbits get vulnerable during the winter. How rabbits survive in winter has to be taken care of in both cases of pet and wild rabbits. Necessary supplements can be given to wild rabbits during the winter to make the winter less difficult for them.