Rabbits are wild and domestic animals. They can easily tolerate winter due to their thick fur. However, this chilly weather can sometimes make them sick, reduces their body temperature, and cause severe health problems like hypothermia. So, do rabbits need heat lamps? Can a heat lamp keep rabbits warm in winter? Let’s find out all your answers in this article.
Rabbits need heat lamps if their body temperature drops below 100 because of outside weather. However, a heat lamp temperature can overheat your rabbit if it is over 85 degrees, making them sick or stressed. So instead, you can use heating pads as an alternative to a heating lamp, with precautions.
In this article, we will discuss heat lamps for rabbits in winter. How can we make them warm in winter? Can baby rabbits also use it? And many more. So, let’s find it out.
Do rabbits need heat lamps in winter?
Most of the time, rabbits don’t require a heated environment. However, sometimes, they may need a heat lamp in winter, depending on the outside temperature.
Wild rabbits can tolerate chilly seasons as they are cold-weather animals, and their thick fur coat protects them. But, we must ensure that their hair should not become wet due to icy snow. Otherwise, it can make them sick.
Cold temperatures can drop the body temperature of your rabbit, which may cause hypothermia.
The average temperature of a healthy rabbit’s body lies between 101 and 103.
If the outside temperature is freezing and your rabbit’s body temperature drops below 100, then you may require a heat lamp for your rabbit; otherwise, they can become sick.
The heat lamp is best for your rabbit in winter as it will help to keep them warm. However, it is essential to install them properly so that your rabbit should not come in contact with its wires and heated cage.
How to use a heat lamp to keep a rabbit warm in winter?
Heat lamps can be used for your rabbit in winter, depending on the outside temperature. However, there must be some precautions before and after installing a heating tool near your rabbit hutch or cage.
Rabbits grow a thick fur coat that protects them from chilly or freezing weather. Therefore, they do not require too much-heated environment.
Try not to overheat the temperature of the heat lamp for your rabbit. Temperature over 85 degrees can make your rabbit sick or stressed. In addition, they can not tolerate much heat.
Always take safety precautions while using heat lamps. For example, it may catch fire if you cover your rabbit’s hutch bedding with paper or straw substrates.
You must ensure that the heat lamp is at least 25 inches away from the rabbit’s hutch floor. Instead, try to buy a heat lamp that covers the bulbs with a metal cage for your pet’s safety.
Do not forget to cover the wires of a heat lamp nicely so that your rabbit will not come in contact with it.
What temperature is too cold for rabbits?
Rabbits can usually tolerate the winter season. However, the excess low-degree temperature can sometimes make them sick by dropping their body temperature.
A temperature below 20 degrees Fahrenheit is too cold for your rabbit.
The average temperature of a healthy rabbit’s body lies between 101 and 103. However, rabbits are even comfortable with lower temperatures, between 60-65 degrees Fahrenheit.
Always try to check the body temperature of your rabbit in winter. Otherwise, it may cause hypothermia, which can also be life-threatening.
If your rabbit’s hutch is outside, ensure that it is waterproof and has a solid roof that protects them from snow. Also, you can provide hay or straw substrate bedding to make them cozy in winter.
The rabbit’s hutch inside the house may require heat lamps or heating pads in winter.
Also read: Fleece vs Bedding For Rabbits?
How do I keep rabbits warm in winter?
Rabbits are cold-weathered animals. They can tolerate cold because they grow thick fur coat and shed it out in falls. But rabbits can also feel freezy if the outside temperature decreases very low.
Leaving your rabbit outside in the icy weather could be risky; It is essential to move them inside.
Always check your rabbit’s body temperature with the help of a thermometer to make sure it does not drop below 100; If it does, your rabbit is hypothermic, which is a cause of concern.
Here are some symptoms of hypothermia in rabbits:
- Tips of ears are cold
- Difficulty in breathing
- Unsteady heartbeat
- Pale lips and gums
Try to warm them up and contact your vet if you notice these symptoms in your rabbit.
To avoid these situations, we should move the rabbits inside and take additional steps to make them warm in winter.
Here are some ways to make your rabbit warm in winter:
Heat lamps are best to keep your rabbit warm in cold weather and must install outside the rabbit’s cage.
It is essential to provide a heat lamp near your rabbit’s hutch at night because, mainly at that time, the outside temperature decreases very low.
We recommend you buy a ceramic heat emitter or red light bulb so that your rabbit will not take any stress as it does not provide any visible light.
Here are some precautions and steps to installing a heat lamp for your rabbit:
- Install a heat lamp outside your rabbit’s cage
- Do not place a heat lamp near the wood or straw substrate bedding; otherwise, it will catch fire.
- Ensure that your rabbit’s cage is at least 25 inches away from the heat lamp.
- Cover the heat lamp wires so your rabbit will not come in contact with it.
- Ensure not to overheat the temperature of the heat lamp for your rabbit; otherwise, they will become sick or stressed.
- Try to monitor the temperature and frequently check the bulbs of the heat lamp so that it would not burn out.
- Keep the heat lamp away from water, snow, or rain.
Always try to buy a good quality heat lamp from amazon. Ensure that it has a metal cage that covers the bulb. In addition, it would be best to buy a heat lamp with features that shut down automatically if the temperature rises.
Heating pads for rabbits can also be a good option than heating lamps. It is safe for your rabbit as they contain a non-toxic gel that provides warmth after heating up in the microwave for a few minutes.
There are varieties of heating pads available in the market that you can buy for your rabbit cage. Some of the options that are available on amazon are:
It installs inside a rabbit cage as bedding and warms them in winter.
However, ensure that you wrap it with a blanket or towel before putting it inside your rabbit’s cage so that they will not come in contact with it.
Rabbits have a chewing habit. As a result, if they try to chew the heating pad, it may cause fire, electric shock, and arc flash, which is life-threatening for your rabbit.
So try to check heating pads regularly to avoid your rabbit from this situation.
Timothy hay or straw substrates are the best bedding in winter for your rabbit as they will feel cozy inside.
If you are unsure about heating lamps or pads, you can add hay, paper, or straw substrates.
You can also put towels or blankets as bedding for your rabbit. However, rabbits have a habit of chewing everything. Therefore, they may chew the threads of blankets or towels, which may cause clots in their intestine.
Also read: Is Pine Bedding Safe For Rabbits?
Cover the windows so that cold wind should not enter. Also, if you have a rabbit’s hutch outside, you can use wood, styrofoam, or plexiglass to cover the doors and window. However, do not forget to allow a gap in between for ventilation.
If you have a rabbit hutch inside, you can cover it with an old blanket or carpet. Remember, try to allow some gaps allowing the light and air to enter.
Also read: Should I Cover My Rabbit’s Cage At Night?
Do baby rabbits need heat lamps?
Baby rabbits do not require heat lamps. Instead, their mother makes the warmest nest for them with the help of its shedding fur or hay to make them warm enough.
Heating lamps can be risky as they can overheat, or your baby rabbits can chew them. Therefore, their mother can only give them heat which is enough for them.
If your mother rabbit has given birth in winter, they will start making the nest according to their babies’ temperature, which makes them warm.
The newborn baby rabbit’s average temperature should be 100 degrees Fahrenheit in the first week, and its mother can easily make the nest between 60-65 degrees.
Baby rabbits grow their thick fur coat after 10-12 days of birth, which protect them from freezing weather and keep them warm.
However, a heating pad is safe if you are too concerned about the baby rabbit in icy weather. Remember, it must be in a low setting, and regularly check the baby rabbit that they do not chew it, as it could be life-threatening.
- Heat lamps can be used for rabbits, depending on the outside temperature.
- The heat lamp is at least 25 inches away from the rabbit’s hutch floor.
- Temperature over 85 degrees can make your rabbit sick or stressed.
- Cover the wires of a heat lamp nicely so that your rabbit will not come in contact with it.
- Baby rabbits do not require heat lamps.
- The heating pad is the alternative to the heating lamp.
Reference: NCBI, Researchgate, Indirect.gov