Summer can be a hard time for rabbits. They have those lovely fur coats… and it’s 100 degrees. Almost without fail, when I pass the rabbit hutch, all the rabbits are stretched out to their full extent, feet pointing in opposite directions, in the middle of their cages. They lie there in a heat-induced stupor gazing dully out.
What Can Be Done?
Our rabbits are in almost complete shade (a little morning sun) and the cages are mostly wire (tin roofing on top). They are about 4 ½ feet off the ground, so they are able to catch any breezes that come by, but still they are hot.
To help them on the hottest days, we put ice in their water bottles. We have a great kind of water founts that can be opened on the top to allow you to pour into them without removing them from the cages. (I’ll do an equipment review sometime). They are going through a lot of water each day, so we top off the upper 2/3 with ice rather than water. It still melts pretty quickly, but it’s a whole lot better than drinking 100 degree water! I think the addition of the ice is also helping to keep algae from growing inside the bottles too.
Another thing some people do is freeze bottles of water and then put them in the cage, switching them out whenever possible. We tried that with our rabbits, but they are nervous from too little handling before we got them and so far, they stay away from foreign objects that we touch.
The Impact of the Heat
Excessive heat can throw a wrench in your rabbit operation. Hot temperatures can render a buck temporarily infertile. Pregnancies are harder on the does also. (They were harder on me during the summer- it only makes sense wearing a fur coat would be less than ideal while pregnant in August).
Our does are due to be bred, but they are also particularly disagreeable toward the buck right now. I didn’t know rabbits could growl before! I’m hopeful we will soon get a reprieve from the humidity and intensity of the summer we’ve had so far.