Really hot summer weather is not fun. We are lucky that we can go inside, crank the A/C, and relax even during the most severe heat waves. But what about homestead animals? The heat is tough on them too and they don’t have the options that we do.
When the summer heat kicks into gear there are a few tips and tricks you can use to keep your homestead rabbits cooler and more comfortable. I know there are some homesteaders who don’t feel as though one should take any steps because they want to breed out any rabbits that cannot tolerate heat. My stance is that if I lose ANY rabbits to heat stroke then I am a guilty of animal cruelty. It is not an option in my book to sit back and do nothing when rabbits are struggling in the heat.
Ways to Keep Rabbits Cool
Keep water bottles full – Rabbits drink more when the weather is hot, just as we do. Whereas you may have only needed to fill them once a day before, now you may have to fill them 2-3 times daily.
Give them shade – Rabbits should be shaded in the summer months as much as possible.
Frozen bottles – Keep a chest freezer full of frozen bottles…16 ounce, 2 liter, and gallon jugs. At mid point in the day stick them inside the rabbit’s cages where they can lay up against them to cool off.
Frozen ice – Freeze water in ice cube trays or other small plastic containers (get them at thrift stores). They love to play with the cubes and it helps to cool them down.
Ceramic tiles or a terra cotta pot saucer – Put a flat ice pack under the tile or saucer. It will stay cool with the ice underneath it and the rabbit can lay on it to cool off.
Fans – A rotating fan will keep air circulating, especially if they are in an enclosure and cannot feel the natural breeze.
Brush Them – Rabbits usually manage to keep themselves well groomed but it can help to brush them and remove excess fur.
Get them wet/damp – Rabbits don’t like to be submerged in water and doing so can stress them and make the heat situation even worse. You can get their feet wet or lightly mist them using a spray mister system or a misting water bottle.
Bring Inside – A pregnant doe or another rabbit who is struggling may need to come indoors for awhile. Having a special place for this in your house (extra room, basement, etc is super handy).
Hope this helps you keep your buns cool in the summer heat!