Can rabbits live outside in winter?

  • Author: Carl
  • Time to read: 4 min.

Rabbits are adorable and beautiful animals. They are super-fast, love to get into your garden, and can make great inside pets. But what about rabbits out in the wild, or if you keep your rabbit outside? Can they live outside in the winter and be okay?

Rabbits are perfectly suited to outdoor conditions and cold weather. Their fur is designed to protect them from the harsh weather. Pet rabbits will need to be protected more than wild rabbits as they are often less accustomed to really cold temperatures. Cover their hutch, add extra layers of protection in the coldest months.

The weather does still matter

Now, just because we said rabbits can survive in winter, doesn’t mean they don’t still have to take precautions. We can go out in the winter, even for longer periods of time, right? But do we leave without a hat and coat? No.

For wild rabbits, they grow an extra special, thicker coat that keeps them protected from the harsh winter climate. Rabbits may be small, adorable, helpless looking creatures, but they aren’t. They have adapted to the weather like any other animal.

That doesn’t mean that if it gets too hot or too cold that they would be fine. They would still need to take cover from extreme heat or extreme cold. The temperature still matters.

How they stay safe in the winter

Okay, so we know they have a nice and comfy fur coat for the winter. Is that all they need? Heck no. We would need to find shelter if the wind is really bad. So do they. They cannot survive in harsh, cold, freezing wind. They have a home. They have burrow. They have a hidey hole somewhere.

It is important that their shelter has at least 3 walls. Which most burrowed out shelters of rabbits do, since they tend to dig underground. They still need that open 4th wall though. They need constant fresh air to stay healthy.

They also need to stay warm and dry. Being dry is key. They need to keep their body temperature regulated. If they can’t because they are wet and cold, they’ll die. They need to be kept dry in the cold weather.

Rabbits can survive in temps down to 40 degrees. Anything below 20 degrees, and your rabbit runs the risk of getting sick and possibly dying.

How to keep your rabbit warm

If you have an indoor rabbit, well, then your job is pretty much done on that front. Your house is set above 40 degrees. Your rabbit will be comfy. In that case you only have to watch out about overheating your rabbit.

They like it around 60 to 65 degrees. So if you like your heat cranked up to 70 degrees or above, you’ll have to provide a fan or other way for your rabbit to stay cooled down.

If your rabbit is an outside pet, and you live in an area where it gets below 40 degrees at night, you have some work to do. You’ll have to make sure of a couple of things.

  • Enclosure where your rabbit can’t chew on the material

Ensure your rabbit cannot chew on materials, like plastic or wood, or it will damage his little stomach.

  • Keep their water heated enough so it doesn’t freeze

If he can’t get water, he won’t eat. He’ll get sick that way.

  • Protect them from the wind and rain

Again, they can’t stay wet. They need a waterproof habitat for outside to keep the snow out. Newspaper, tarps, blankets, or any other creatively safe way to block the elements.

  • Still provide adequate fresh air

Rabbits need fresh air. They have to have a constant stream of fresh air available. 

  • Need ventilation to prevent extra moisture

When the moisture builds up, it can cause mold and can harm your rabbit. A rabbit can get sick from stagnant air or built up moisture, just like you can.

Keep your rabbit dry, warm, and happy

A rabbit needs those few things to have a comfortable life. Exercising is important, especially in the winter. Rabbits need to have their body temperature regulated, and kept at their normal rate. They don’t hibernate, so they need to be able to move around.

As long as your rabbit is dry and is protected from the wind, rain, and snow, he will be fine outside, even in the winter.

If for any reason your rabbit is acting weird, or you think he might be sick, please bring him inside when it’s cold out.