Keep your rabbits safe and comfortable during the winter months with a few easy additions to your hutch. Rabbits have natural insulation against the cold but creating a warm, healthy environment will increase comfort and reduce stress. Winterizing requires sealing gaps, adding insulation and using external heating sources.
Move the Hutch
Consider moving the hutch to an indoor space where the effect of elements are reduced. A garage, shed or barn will provide a layer of protection and reduce the need for intensive winterizing of the hutch. If the additional space is not available, move forward to seal and warm the hutch.
Seal small gaps around the hutch edges and corners with caulking. Sealing the gaps prevents cold air from entering the hutch. Also, cover the exposed run area with plastic sheets to reduce the windchill. Many hutch models have an exposed exercise area beneath the protected house section. Leave one side of the area open to allow some ventilation. Reducing windchill is the goal but ventilation is necessary to maintain a healthy environment.
Keep a thick layer of pine shavings or straw for insulation inside the coop. The rabbits will burrow in the bedding for protection against the cold. Also add a fleece blanket as a bedding supplement. Fleece is soft and the rabbits will utilize the material in extremely cold circumstances. Change the bedding and clean the blanket each week to maintain cleanliness inside the hutch. The accumulation of feces happens quickly when cold weather discourages the rabbits from venturing outdoors.
Always use a nontoxic bedding option that is safe for animals. Treated bedding material will cause respiratory issues for your rabbit.
Hang horse blankets from the interior walls to add a layer of insulation to your coop. Reflective foil insulation also works well. Avoid using exposed insulation as the rabbits will pick at the material and may consume some as well. Always use a contained source of insulation.
Heat is critical for thawing water in the coop. Dehydration is a major risk during the winter months. Use a water source with an internal heater that keeps water available at all times. The heater also will add warmth to the hutch interior. Use a small heat blanket as well if your winter is extreme. Heated water bowls and heat blankets are designed and sold specifically for livestock. Check with your nearest ranch supply store for options.