3 Ways to Keep Rabbits Cool During the Summer

giphy-downsized-largeIt’s 105 degrees Fahrenheit today! Our rabbits are chilling next to their frozen water bottles, waiting ever so patiently for nightfall to come. Living in Texas, our summers can reach an excess of 115 plus, so it’s crucial to provide a means for your animals to cool down. Our dog has three buckets of water to drink and splash in; that is how serious we take this terrible heat. Rabbits stay cool by panting and their ears play a big part in cooling them down. However, with rabbits being raised in a raised hutch, the poor guys can’t dig underground and find comfort in the cool earth like their wild cousins. As such, here are three ways we keep our rabbits cool during the summer.

1. Frozen Water Bottles and Treats

This is super simple! Just take about four plastic water bottles, fill them with water, and put them in the freezer to freeze overnight. In our home, we put the frozen bottles in the hutch around the hottest part of the day, say about noon. However, your water bottles might melt quickly! A solution would be to mix salt into the water. The water bottles might take a bit longer to freeze due to the salt mixed in, but also take much longer to melt in the heat.

Why is this?

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Okay, specifically density. According to Lara Baxley from Bakersfield College, fresh water ice cubes floating in a warm glass of fresh water melt faster due to the different densities in the temperature of the differing water sources. As the ice cube melts, the cold water sinks to the bottom of the glass because it is denser than the warm water. This causes the warm water to rise and replace the space where the cold water was. This constant cycle of sinking cold water and rising warm water causes a convection current to cycle through the glass. As such, the ice cube melts faster… As opposed to a salt water ice cube, that is. If you put a fresh water ice cube in a glass of warm salt water, the cube will melt slower. This is because salt water is much denser than cold fresh water. This means the cold fresh water stays floating at the top of the glass, while the salt water continues to hang out at the bottom. No exchange between the different waters means no convection current, thus NOT enabling a speed-up in the melting process. It is this difference in densities that allows salt water to melt slower.

frozen-bananaThis means your water bottles will last longer in the rabbit hutch! So why not try a 25/75 salt/water solution. It worked wonders for us and the rabbits love it. They melt all over the water bottles and rest their ears as close as possible to keep cool. We also freeze bananas and herbs so that the bunnies have a cool treat to munch on during the afternoon. The treat idea I got from the Austin Zoo. The keepers there feed their goats frozen raspberries whenever the fellas seem a bit lethargic. That’s another great idea! Reach out to your local sanctuaries and find out how they keep their outdoor exotic beasts cool too!

2. Ceramic Tiles

Outside of helping keep the rabbits’ feet off the wire, ceramic tiles stay cool in the shade and provide much-needed comfort. My rabbits will lay their bellies all over the tile. Their heat is exchanged evenly across the tile while the cool seeps up into their bellies. Talk about a great way to beat the heat! 1491753_10201869832922142_487711932_nJust make sure your tile is light coloured to reflect any sunlight, they’re big enough for your rabbit to lay on, and position them where the tiles stay in the shade as long as possible. This is the same technique dogs will use to keep cool. Have you ever noticed a dog suddenly get up from their bed and lay belly first all over your tile or wood floor? They’re trying to stay cool folks by taking advantage of that cold floor! Glancing over my computer, I can see our dog Capu already splayed out in the kitchen.

3. Raise the Hutch and Put it in the Shade

It would be nice to have the hutch on grass, but detrimental for keeping my rabbits cool. Ya see, a hutch seated on grass does not allow for even air exchange into the hutch. This means that the muggy air your rabbits will be sitting in will not circulate and may even bake them. We don’t want a roasted rabbit right now, so we lifted the hutch onto big blocks. This allows cool air to WHOOSH up into the hutch and blow out all that nasty muggy air. The air exchange circulates cool air in, thus cooling the rabbits down. Further, we put the hutch right under two huge oak trees.

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The shady spot is so much cooler than the rest of the yard and the rabbits seem to like it much better than when they were in direct sunlight.

An added advantage to lifting the hutch is manure falling right through onto the ground. Well, if the hutch has a wire bottom of course. But doing so makes clean up way easier and I can collect the manure to bag at my convenience. No need to take the rabbits out to clean, just stick the rake under the hutch and pull it all out. The rabbits don’t mind the cleaning, they actually get closer to see what I’m up too!

There are many others ways folks keep their animals cool, so do some additional research. Stay safe this summer and make sure your animals have plenty of water and shade! As always, be kind and tender to one another.

Want to stay cool this summer? Check out our last summer post!

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