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post #1 of 15 (permalink) Old 06-28-2009, 09:06 PM Thread Starter
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Bunnies staying out in rain

Hi, our two bunnies live outside (in a big roomy hutch at night and free-range around the garden in the daytime). We keep the door to their hutch open during the day and they hop back in occasionally but generally stay out until we put them back in.

At the moment it's winter here with temps going as low as 5 degrees Celcius, and occasionally cold southerly winds and rain. The problem is, the bunnies hop out of the hutch when we open it and stay out all day regardless of the weather. I'm worried that maybe they don't want to stay inside because with the hutch door open, a predator could get in? And maybe we should be leaving the hutch closed on cold days?

Or maybe they are actually fine - there's quite a lot for them to explore outside and they've burrowed in a couple of places so could get sort-of underground if they wanted to. However the ground is wet and muddy at the moment and lately they don't seem to be going underground - they mainly stay up in the shrubs on the retaining wall at the edge of the garden, looking a bit cold and miserable! (Or maybe I'm projecting and they're fine!) I lured them back into the hutch today with sultana treats but they left again not long after I did.

Any advice would be much appreciated!
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post #2 of 15 (permalink) Old 06-28-2009, 10:00 PM
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How old are your bunnies? I have outdoor rabbits, and at times I would let them go in and out of their hutches at will. They were adult rabbits and never got sick, but their hutch was filled with hay, so they could dry off, when they chose to play in the rain. My rabbits would also play in the snow, but the colder it got, the less time they would spend outside of their hutches. If you are worried about your bunnies, then perhaps they should be locked inside of their hutches during bad weather. I don't know what kind of predators you have in your area, but that would be a huge concern. I would keep them in the hutch during the night, when most preditors are out. If you have hawks or eagles, put some bird netting over your garden. If there are foxes or dogs in your area, you may need to do more preditor proofing.
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post #3 of 15 (permalink) Old 06-28-2009, 10:52 PM
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This board is made up of people in the United States. Here, most people have house rabbits, but in the United Kingdom, keeping garden rabbits is popular. One interesting board is: http://forums.rabbitrehome.org.uk Look for "Rabbit Care Discussion" and click on "housing" and you will find many good ideas on how to keep rabbits safe outside.
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post #4 of 15 (permalink) Old 06-28-2009, 11:39 PM Thread Starter
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There aren't any real predators in our neighbourhood other than the occasional cat visitor - we used to be very nervous about the one cat that occasionally visited and used the hose several times to scare her away (quite successfully!) but the other day she came back and seemed only curious about the bunnies - they sniffed eachother then largely ignored each other.

So predators aren't really a problem. i just worry that maybe when bunnies get cold they lose the ability to think logically about how to get warm!! (a bit like me in the middle of the night sometimes).

Thanks for your advice on the other forum.
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post #5 of 15 (permalink) Old 06-29-2009, 02:13 AM
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have you ever seen a bunny freeze in the snow? Really bunnies are made to handle a lot of weather if they are indoor bunnies they lack the winter coat same as a horse, but they will grow winter hair and be able to handle it. They have a warm dry place to go, if they choose and they have been there for a while and know their way around i wouldn't worry much. Just keep an eye out for illness same as always.

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post #6 of 15 (permalink) Old 06-29-2009, 03:36 AM
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You may also have to check your rabbits for parasites, if you allow them to run free in your garden. Rabbits can get intestinal worms, so it is good to worm your rabbits twice a year. Some people give their rabbits a handful of pumpkin seeds for two weeks twice a year to worm them, because pumpkin seeds have natural deworming properties. I'm sure if you check around, you can find other natural ways to keep your rabbits healthy. Good luck.
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post #7 of 15 (permalink) Old 06-29-2009, 07:14 AM
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My bun is scared of thunder! I could never keep him outside


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post #8 of 15 (permalink) Old 06-29-2009, 07:34 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Kendalle View Post
have you ever seen a bunny freeze in the snow? Really bunnies are made to handle a lot of weather if they are indoor bunnies they lack the winter coat same as a horse, but they will grow winter hair and be able to handle it. They have a warm dry place to go, if they choose and they have been there for a while and know their way around i wouldn't worry much. Just keep an eye out for illness same as always.

Though they can tolerate a wide range of temperatures, yes, we have had reports of rabbits dying due to exposure of both heat and cold, though they more commonly die from heat exposure than cold.

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post #9 of 15 (permalink) Old 06-29-2009, 09:56 PM
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Personaly, I would keep them in their hutch during the rain to keep them dry for fear of them getting sick in the rain. But then again, when my rabbits are outside they are always locked it their hutch, and Smudge isnt out during nasty weather. Just make sure they have a place to dry off when they want to! You can keep some old towels or blankets out there if they get a little soggy. :]



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post #10 of 15 (permalink) Old 06-30-2009, 06:06 AM
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Also, I realized that it lost part of my other comment for some reason, hahaha. The main danger seems not to be the cold itself, but cold snaps. We usually get calls whenever we have an unusually cold day that maybe the animals aren't prepared for. Typically our winters hover right around freezing, but then there will be an unusually cold day, sometimes down into the teens, and the animals aren't prepared for it. Even livestock and other animals that are more prepared for it can go down.

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post #11 of 15 (permalink) Old 06-30-2009, 11:37 PM Thread Starter
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Thanks you so much all of you for the fantastic replies. Who knew about pumpkin seeds?! (Well not me anyway!) The bunnies so far are surviving and seem happy enough - and yes, I always make sure they have lots of dry straw and towels in their hutch, so hopefully they're drying off ok once they get back in there. Will keep an eye on them. Thanks once again, what a great site
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post #12 of 15 (permalink) Old 07-01-2009, 05:46 PM
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here it gets to -30 at least a few times a winter, and the bunnies are still hopping around i think they are crazy.

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post #13 of 15 (permalink) Old 07-02-2009, 01:23 PM
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On the pumpkin seeds, I should add that it is one handful once a day for two weeks.
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post #14 of 15 (permalink) Old 07-02-2009, 11:17 PM Thread Starter
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Brilliant! Thank you. So much nicer than having to give them poison. Does it work on humans do you think?!
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post #15 of 15 (permalink) Old 07-02-2009, 11:59 PM
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Brilliant! Thank you. So much nicer than having to give them poison. Does it work on humans do you think?!
I don't know if it works on people. I think the seeds are supposed to be raw. I haven't tried it yet. I wonder if I gave my rabbits a few every day as a preventative, if I would need to deworm them?


There is a product called "Perma-guard" that can be used to deworm rabbits and people. I have used that one on my rabbits with good results. It is also called "food grade fossel flour" or "silica" or "diatomateus earth." It looks like white flour, and just mix enough in the pellets to coat them, and use for two months. I don't use it all the time because I think it might kill earth worms, as it comes out in their feces. It is also supposed to cut down on flies. I have one rabbit that won't eat pumpkin seeds, so I will be using it again. Diatomateus earth is used to keep bugs out of grains and other food supplies. Many farmers like to use it because it has other minerals that have health benifits for animals and people. If you look it up on the web, I'm sure you will find all kinds of claims on how sick people regained their health from using the stuff. Of course I don't believe all I read, but I know it dewormed my rabbits. It is a natural product; no chemicals.
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