The Dangers of Hot Summer Days
When temperatures rise above 80-85 degrees Fahrenheit, your rabbits are at risk. Without protection from the sun and heat, rabbits are likely to experience problems and can suffer from heat stroke or heat shock which is often deadly. Rabbits should always have shaded areas to retreat to, and direct sunlight can be quite deadly to them; especially if they cannot escape it. Ventilation and air circulation are also crucial so if your indoor colony is not getting decent airflow, think about installing a fan. But do not let it blow directly on the rabbits so they don’t end up with snuffles.
Also keep in mind that when spring approaches and there are constant changes in the weather, your rabbits are likely to start shedding before the last major frost is gone. So make sure that you keep an eye on your rabbits during these fluctuations, and remove extra bedding over the day if necessary to prevent them from burrowing into something too warm.
Rabbits do not sweat like humans. In fact, if you ever see your rabbit panting or appearing to sweat in hot weather, it is in serious trouble and must be cooled down. Rabbits regulate their body temperature through the ears, via the tiny veins that run close to the surface of the ear. That is why there is generally not much fur on the ears, so heat can escape through the blood as it passes through the thin ears. Rabbits with smaller ears are at higher risk of overheating in temperatures over 80°F.
It is also normal for reproduction to considerably slow down during warm months, especially if it remains over 85° for 4 days or more. The bucks begin to have fertility issues at that point.
Water is also important during hot weather to keep your rabbit hydrated. Rabbits will naturally consume more water as well as food during warm periods so that they can regulate body temperature. Place ice cubes in water bowls or bottles…or place frozen water bottles into the colony for the rabbits to lay on or next to. Just make sure they don’t start eating the bottles or lids.
Make sure that food remains dry and clean. During high humidity days, the feed may become damp and in turn may start to mold or mildew. This can be toxic to your rabbits, causing illness or even death. You can also feed your rabbits a few frozen vegetables so that they are remaining well fed while also helping themselves stay cool.
It is also important to keep the stress level of your rabbits as low as possible at this point. Don’t handle them unless it is necessary and keep other animals away from the colony as well.