With summer around the corner, temperatures have already started to increase. Bunnies do much better in the cold compared to the heat as they are unable to dissipate body heat effectively as their only mechanism for doing so is through the ears. Temperatures over 29°C (85°F) can cause heatstroke in bunnies.
The ideal temperature range for a bunny is 12-23°C (55-72°F). There are many useful techniques to keep your bunny cool during the summer such as frozen water bottles and cooling mats. Many of them are techniques you would use on yourself.
We’ve tested out many ways to keep our bunny cool in the heat and these are our top 11 ways to make sure our bunny doesn’t overheat.
Make sure your bunny isn’t directly in the sun for long periods of time. If they live indoors, make sure your bunny’s enclosure isn’t in the direct sunlight.
If you house your bunnies outside, make sure their enclosure is in the shade 24/7. If it is a really hot day, move them inside so they don’t overheat.
Ice Cubes In Water Bowl
This is a great way to keep your bunny’s water very cool and also gives them something to play with. Adding ice cubes to water also saves you from having to change the water regularly as it warms up. Just plop a couple of ice cubes in the water every so often and the water will always be cool.
Trim Your Bunny
If you have a bunny with long fur, consider trimming their coat in order to help them stay cool during the summer. If you have a bunny with short fur, regularly brush them as extra loose fur is like having a long coat.
Freeze Some Water Bottles
Fill bottles with water and freeze them. Give these to your bunny to lean against while they nap and relax. If it is extremely hot and the bottles melt quickly, you can freeze gallon milk bottles which last longer.
You can also cover your bottles in a towel or cloth to keep them frozen for longer. This may be a preference for your bunny if they don’t like the wet feeling of the bottle but want the cold.
If you have a bunny cage, you can freeze large glass food containers of water and place them inside the bunny enclosure or cage to keep the base cool and give something for your bunny to lean against.
You can also create a frozen bottle bed. Put a frozen bottle inside a blanket and roll it up for your bunny to lay against. It also keeps your bottle frozen for 6-8 hours.
If you want to give your bunny the ultimate luxury, then place your frozen bottle blanket next to your cooling mat or tiles for the ultimate cooling experience.
Cooling Mats or Ceramic Tiles
This is something you should have around no matter what. Either a pet cooling mat (such as this PeSandy Rabbit Cooling Pad on Amazon) or buying ceramic, stone, or marble tiles.
Marble tiles can be found on Amazon (Marble 12×12 Tile) if you don’t want to visit your local hardware store. Marble tiles stay the coolest out of all of the tiles.
The tiles or cooling mat will remain much cooler than the air temperature around it and your bunny will love you for providing another cool space for them to relax on. You can even create most of the bottom of their indoor or outdoor enclosure out of the tile or cooling mat.
The cooling mat for bunnies is rather small and you may need to purchase multiple. This will be the same for the tiles.
Pro Tip: You can even freeze your tiles like the water bottles. Just put them in the freezer for 5-10 minutes and you’re good to go.
This is a very easy, affordable option. Just place a fan that circulates air AROUND your bunny. Make sure it’s not pointed directly at them. If you hang a damp towel over the fan, it can make the air even cooler. Essentially a poor man’s air conditioning unit.
Keep Your Room Cool
Keep your air conditioning running if it’s a very hot day. Especially if you’re not home for the day. Make sure your blinds are shut so the sun doesn’t heat the room up.
Frozen Fruit Treats
Our bunny loves these and there are many different variations you can do. You can either freeze the fruit pieces themselves or you can place them in a little cup of water and freeze it all together.
Some examples you can try are banana, grapes, or even pineapple. If you want to give your bunny the gourmet treat experience, you can add herbs to enhance the flavour or add a little bit of juice.
Moisten or Dampen The Ears
The ears are where bunnies regulate their body temperature. Because of that, dampening the ears and face with your hands or a wet paper towel will help them cool down.
Make sure the water is cool. Do not immerse your bunny in water as they will panic and could be potentially traumatised from the experience.
Feed Wet Vegetables
This is a good trick to keep your bunny hydrated sneakily. Wash your vegetables you want to feed your bunny but keep them very wet. Even leaving a little puddle of water in the bunny food bowl. This will ensure your bunny is drinking enough on a hot day.
Terra Cotta Saucer Beds
This is another trick that can be used in place of a bottle bed or cooling mats and tiles. You can use Terra Cotta Saucers (link to Amazon) as cooling vessels when you place an ice pack under them. Turn the saucer upside down and place the ice pack underneath and make a nice cooling bed.
How To Know If Your Bunny Has Heatstroke?
It’s important to monitor your bunny’s temperature and generally keep an eye on them during hot days. Excessive heat can potentially lead to organ failure so prepare for hot days with the above cooling ideas.
While heat is the primary cause of heatstroke, there are other factors that increase the risk of your bunny getting hyperthermia. For example, obesity, cardiovascular disease, heat intolerance, and neuromuscular disease.
Here is a list of symptoms that may indicate your bunny has heatstroke.
- Body temperature of 40°C (105°F) and above without signs of inflammation (hyperthermia).
- Weakness, depression.
- Muscle tremors.
- Cardiac arrhythmias.
- Abnormally high heart rate.
- Respiratory distress or arrest.
- Cardiopulmonary arrest.
What Are The Treatments For Heatstroke?
If you think your bunny is suffering from any of these heatstroke symptoms, take them to the vet immediately. They may have to stay there for several days if they are diagnosed with heatstroke.
IMPORTANT: Do not move your bunny into air-conditioned indoor areas immediately if they have been outdoors in extreme heat as sudden large changes in temperature can cause a lot of stress for your bunny.
Here are some cooling measures you can take on your way to the vet.
- Wet your bunny, especially the ears, with cool water. Take wet cloths with you while taking your bunny to the vet.
- Cool air fans
- Syringe feed cool water.
It’s important to stop cooling your bunny once their temperature gets below 39°C (103°F) to avoid hypothermia.
Bunnies don’t like very hot temperatures due to their lack of ability to regulate their body temperatures. Some will suffer more than others depending on if they have been acclimatised to heat or not.
Try these cooling techniques during the summer and see which ones your bunny loves. Most of these are cheap options and can be organised through things you may have lying around in your house.