It’s that time of the year again where Seattle is showered in pumpkin spice lattes. Fall brings in cooler temperatures and we’ve even had some below freezing nights in early November. We house our buns outside but frequently have them inside for bonding or photography sessions. Especially the little newborn babies; we try to keep them inside as much as possible until their fur comes in. I have a lot of families around this time of year ask about keeping their bunnies outside in a hutch and if it’s ok for winter time. So here is my opinion and knowledge!
Heat Lamps? Yes or no?
If you are planning to keep a hutch nearby your house such as on a back porch or side of the house; this is in my opinion an easier way to keep them outside. Most areas around your house will have electrical outlets. Heat lamps are a must when below freezing for our farm. Some other rabbitries use straw and pack it into each cage for the rabbits to burrow but I prefer an actual heat source for our buns. Remember to always securely attach the heat lamp to the outside of the cage or hutch. Never put the lamp on the inside of the cage because it could severely burn your bunny or get knocked down and start a fire! Also keep the lamp far enough away from hay so a piece doesn’t accidently catch on fire. Don’t be afraid to try a heat lamp out just because of the danger of a fire starting. As long as you take safety precautions and set it up securely you should be fine! We’ve been using them for over seven years and have never had an issue. The only issue I had is one year I put a heat lamp on each individual cage and back at that time it was nine cages. Let’s just say our power bill did not appreciate it. Now we have an amazing set up where four cages can share one heat lamp. Even if your hutch is not near the house, you can always run an extension cord out there to hook it up. Most local feed stores should sell them, or you can always purchase online. I would recommend buying one that has a clamp attached so you can mount it easily.
Frozen water bottle issue
Water bottles will for sure freeze outside as well. One option would be to put the heat lamp close enough to the water bottle where it stays unfrozen but doesn’t get too hot. You may need to test this out for a few days to get it right. If you put the heat lamp too close to the water bottle, then all the water will “magically” disappear within the same day usually. Another idea is to purchase a heated water bottle. This would be the most ideal route to go so you don’t have to worry about frozen or dried out water bottles. All you need to do is plug it into an outlet and make sure to fill it with fresh water when necessary.
Board up those open sides
For hutches we recommend buying one that has a hide away area with four enclosed walls and an entrance hole for them to access inside. Also the main part of the hutch should at least have one solid side. In the fall and winter time when it starts to get windy you can buy cheap plastic roofing or get a few pieces of plywood to board up the open sides. Especially at night when it’s the coldest time of day. Keep in mind if you choose this option but still have a heat lamp, you’ll need to cut a nice sized hole in the temporary pieces where the heat lamp can still have access to heat the hutch.
Well structured hutch for snow fall
If you live in an area that gets heavy snow fall during the winter make sure your hutch can bare the weight of all that snow! Make sure your roof is in good condition and if anything, when you go out to see them each day, just brush off the snow that has accumulated on the roof that day.
All in all, if you can bring your bunnies inside or at least in the garage during winter, that is the ultimate and best solution. But if that is not an option then try these ideas to help ensure that your bunnies will be safe outside during the colder months. For those of you that have had success or any good tips on weather proofing outdoor bunny areas please feel free to leave a comment to help other bunny owners or soon to be bunny owners!
"Have you entered the treasury of snow, Or have you seen the treasury of hail," Job 38:22