How Cold Can Rabbits Tolerate? And How to Keep Them Warm in Winter?

How cold can rabbits tolerate

With winter in full swing and temperatures dropping lower each day, it’s only natural to wonder if your rabbits are feeling the chill outdoors. How cold is too cold for these delicate creatures, anyway?

Today, we’ll talk about how cold rabbits can tolerate, what’s too cold for rabbits, and how we can keep them warm during chilly winter days.

What is Too Cold for a Rabbit?

The ideal temperature for rabbits is around 12-21℃ (55-70℉).

Rabbits do well in cooler temperatures and tolerate cold better than heat. Most breeds grow a winter coat to keep them comfortable during the winter months. But their fur takes a long time to dry, so when a rabbit’s fur is wet or even damp, it can be dangerous.

When the temperature starts dropping to freezing levels, it’s a good idea to think about bringing your rabbits inside or finding a sheltered place for them, such as a shed or unused garage.

How to Tell if Your Rabbit is Too Cold

Rabbits are usually good at hiding their discomfort. But that doesn’t mean the expert eye can’t see something wrong.

Here’s how you can tell your rabbit is too cold:

  • Like humans, rabbits shiver or tremble when they’re cold to warm themselves up
  • Their ears, paws, and tail are cold to the touch, which means their body temperature has dropped
  • Generally slowed down or not moving at all
  • Not playing around or eating like usual
  • Huddling in the corner or looking for warmth
  • Sleeping or remaining in the “loaf” position
Rabbit feeling cold

What Can Happen When Your Rabbit Gets Too Cold

Cold exposure can cause hypothermia, frostbite, or snuffles, which are all severe and require immediate veterinary attention.


Hypothermia causes a dangerously low body temperature and an inability to stabilize it. This can cause the heart to weaken, which is when things become lethal. Rabbits can become hypothermic very quickly. Their average body temperature is 101-103℉, but 100℉ can mean the beginning of hypothermia.

Here are some signs a hypothermic rabbit will show:

  • Shallow breathing
  • A weak pulse
  • Cold ears
  • Lethargy
  • Unresponsive

If your rabbit is showing these signs, the first thing to do is warm him up. Try bundling him up in a towel and bringing him into a warmer room. You can also give him some warm(ish) water. Or, you can set your rabbit on top of a heating pad to raise his body temperature. If there are no improvements, contact your vet immediately.


Frostbite in rabbits is the same as it is in humans, even with their fur. It’s the damage or loss of tissue due to extreme cold exposure. For rabbits, moisture and drafts also play a huge role.

Frostbite usually affects a rabbit’s ears, toes, and tail before any other body part because there’s less fur for protection. The main sign of frostbite is your rabbit’s skin changing color. At first, it will be bright red, but as frostbite sets in, it will turn pale and almost blue.


Snuffles, also called “the rabbit cold,” is a bacterial infection of the upper respiratory system but can also affect your rabbit’s eyes and ears and lead to more severe complications like pneumonia.

Some signs of snuffles include:

  • Wheezing
  • Sneezing
  • Snotty or runny nose

Make sure you take your rabbit to the vet immediately if he’s showing any signs of snuffles. If you catch it on time and with the proper treatment (antibiotics), your bunny can recover. But if left, it will turn fatal. Plus, it’s very contagious between rabbits.

How to Keep Rabbits Warm in Winter

Follow these helpful tips to keep your rabbits warm and protected from any discomfort caused by the chilly temperatures.

Provide Warm & Safe Housing

For outdoor rabbits, it’s important to provide well-insulated, escape-proof, and predator-proof housing. Consider adding a weatherproof cover to protect the hutch from wind and rain. Thermal hutch cover offers extra insulation to your rabbits’ habitat and keeps it dry and warm by trapping heat and preventing drafts.

Get Them a Friend

Outdoor rabbits should have a bunny friend to keep them warm

Rabbits are social creatures, and having a rabbit friend is essential, especially for outdoor rabbits. They thrive in the company of others and find warmth and comfort in snuggling up and sleeping together during winter.

If you’re keeping rabbits outside, it’s important to have at least two so they can keep each other warm and stave off loneliness.

Provide Heated Water Source

Freezing temperatures can cause water bottles to freeze, depriving rabbits of much-needed hydration. Make it a habit to check their water bottle daily to ensure it’s still working properly. Rabbits can suffer adverse consequences after only 8 hours without water.

If the water is freezing, try some of these methods to keep it available at all times:

  • Consider using a heated water bowl.
  • Use both a bowl and a bottle to offer multiple water sources. A deep and narrow bowl is less likely to freeze. Black bowls absorb more heat from the sun, making them a better option than lighter bowls.
  • Invest in a thermal protective cover for the water bottle.
  • Look into getting a heated water bottle.

Add Heat Pads to Their Hutch

Heat pads like SnuggleSafe can provide warmth in your rabbits’ shed. These microwavable pads can keep them cozy for up to 10 hours. Heat the pad in a microwave for 5 minutes and place it in your rabbit’s hutch to provide warmth during the colder days.

Consider Moving Them Inside

Move outdoor rabbits inside during winter

If possible, consider gradually transitioning your rabbits inside the house during winter. Sudden temperature changes from extreme cold to a heated indoor environment can be stressful and cause them to go into shock. Start by introducing them to an unheated room with a minimal temperature difference. This gradual adjustment will help them adapt comfortably.

If keeping your rabbits inside the house is not an option, you can move them to a shed or unused garage. Ensure they still have access to exercise areas while blocking access to any dangers, such as electrical wires.

Use Adequate Bedding

Use straw instead of hay as bedding, as it provides better insulation and comfort for your rabbits during winter. Straw is an excellent insulator – its hollow structure helps trap heat and keep your rabbits warm.


Rabbits tolerate cooler temperatures better than hot ones. But if the weather drops below freezing, you should consider bringing your rabbits in to prevent them from getting snuffles, hypothermia, or even frostbite.

Similar Posts

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *