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7 Ways Rabbits Survive In Winter (Do They Hibernate?)

How Do Rabbits Survive In Winter

Do you keep your rabbits outdoors? 

Then you may have several worries. Especially if winter’s about to come. 

The flurries of snow are falling. And the temperature starts to drop.

“Is my rabbit going to be okay?”

Well, they will be. As long as you provide them extra care. With that, your rabbits will survive through even the harshest of winters.

Continue reading to discover:

  • 7 ways your rabbit has to survive winter.
  • Why rabbits eat their poop when it’s cold.
  • Whether rabbits hibernate throughout the winter period.
  • And much, much more…

Do rabbits hibernate in the winter?

Rabbits, both domestic and wild, do not hibernate in the winter. This is due to not being built to spend long periods sleeping. Instead, they have to keep themselves active to search and hunt for food. Wintertime also causes them to not be picky over what they eat. 

How do rabbits survive in winter? 7 ways

#1: Rabbits eat their poop

This may sound disgusting. But yes, your rabbit will have to eat their feces during winter.

The fact is, their waste contains various health benefits. 

And, considering how scarce food is in this season, they take advantage of their poop pellets.

“Why is their poop nutritional?”

Well, if your rabbit has to conserve energy, their body adjusts to the condition. 

And that results in having their food partially digested.

When that happens, almost half of the nutrients are still present.

This behavior will surely remind you of your mom. Not that she eats her own waste. But just on the part that she doesn’t want to waste anything.

Like that time when she told you to finish the food on your plate.

Also, rabbit parents may ask, “What nutrients can be found in my rabbit’s poop?”

Rabbit Eat Their Poop When They Hibernate In Winter

For you to know, a research found out that rabbit feces contain:

  • Vitamins.
  • Fatty acids.
  • And amino acids.

That should tell you that they can have two meals in only one source of food. 

Reading tip: 9 Weird Reasons Why Rabbits Eat Their Own Poop + 9 Tips

#2: Rabbits store up fats

Rabbits are smarter than we think.

This is because they know what to expect. And what to do about it.

To add, the temperature dropping is a sign for rabbits to add more weight.

“When do they do this?”

Of course, they start as early as possible. During the summer, they eat up as much as they can take in.

“But why summer and not during fall?”

Remember that rabbits, in general, hunt for their food. And summer is the best time for food gathering.

Loads of sources are available at this time. So, they take advantage of it. 

And once rabbits have enough fat in their bodies, they’re set up for the cold.

Now, what their fat does are:

  • To give energy.
  • And to give off added heat.

Note: Rabbits that are thin have less chance of surviving the harsh winter season. Make sure you check your furry friend’s weight and that they’re provided sufficient food every day along with other essentials.

#3:  Rabbits change their diets

Whether they’re domestic or wild, rabbits need to have varying diets. More so if the season is changing.

During the normal days, hay and vegetables are their top picks. 

But when food is scarce, they don’t get to be picky anymore.

After all, this is part of their survival.

In particular, wild rabbits will have to consider munching on the following:

  • Barks.
  • Twigs.
  • Berries.
  • Woody plants. 

In fact, anything they can find that’s edible will be gathered. Most of the food is buried in the snow anyway.

In some cases, rabbits will build a hutch near a food source. 

Impressively, their smartness heats up even more, even if their environment is freezing.

#4: Rabbits grow winter coats

It’s no surprise. Even cats and dogs change their coats during winter and even during summer.

It’s a natural process their body undergoes. And rabbits will start seeing the changes during fall.

Honestly, they’re known to be fluffy already. 

But their coats will get even denser at the start of winter.

“What happens to their old fur?”

Well, rabbits will have to let go of their summer jackets.

The old fur coat will be gradually shed. And this will be replaced by a thicker covering.

In addition, a rabbit’s coat is composed of three layers:

  • The down.
  • The guard hair.
  • And the guide hair.

Imagine having three layers of coats. For sure, they’ll be enough to keep those furry hoppers warm.

“Do rabbits still shed during winter?”

Normally, they will. But not as much as the regular shedding. 

Their bodies, as much as they can, try to retain every single strand for heat purposes.

#5: Rabbits reduce their activity

To survive, rabbits have to conserve energy.

They do this so that they:

  • Won’t eat a lot.
  • Won’t drink too much.
  • Would have more zest to hunt if needed.

And though they look cute and innocent, they’re actually capable of withstanding the cold.

Once the winter season starts, rabbits won’t be seen that much anymore.

This is probably why some would think they’re hibernating.

Instead, they’ll be in their hutches. Slowly consuming their food. Or probably huddling.

Now, huddling is a behavior needed for survival, according to a study.

Doing so will add more heat to the place. Which is good for little bunnies.

“What else do rabbits do during winter?”

Interestingly, rabbits would just spend at least 8 hours of sleep. But they don’t do it in one period.

Instead, they would take short naps for this entire time.

And if they’re not snoozing, you’ll see them somewhere, looking for more food.

If you want to learn more regarding how rabbits are doing in the winter, watch this video:

#6: Rabbits use grass, hay, and twigs

Rabbits are a very practical species.

They know a lot about how to survive. Despite being seen as prey animals.

They’re quick to start out a plan to survive the cold breeze. And that includes collecting food, especially for nursing rabbits.

But, in the cold, the first thing they should secure is heat.

“So what do they do?”

Well, smart rabbits gather the following:

  • Hay.
  • Twigs.
  • Grass.
  • Stems.
  • Leaves.

They use these to cover their hutch too. Of course, there’ll be predators lurking.

Anytime, rabbits can be harassed or become a predator’s meal for the winter.

Warning: If you find a rabbit hutch during the winter, make sure that no kid touches it. Rabbits worked hard to make a shelter for themselves, and it’s cruel to shatter their homes. 

#7: Rabbits look for shelters

Last but not least, rabbits survive the winter if they have shelters.

They’re good at finding the perfect spots. 

“Do rabbits migrate?”

Well, they don’t, in most cases. Especially if they’re near an area with bountiful food sources.

But, they may have to transfer at times. This is when there are dangerous animals that can hunt them down.

“Where do rabbits live during the cold?”

Typically, rabbits live in various types of places. That includes:

  • Thick bushes.
  • Vegetation piles.
  • Hollowed out trees.
  • And underground burrows.

“Which of these shelters are the best for rabbits?”

Well, it’s the burrow. Because the temperature is consistent all year round. It’s only 50 to 65 °F (10 to 18 °C).

Meanwhile, it’s different for domestic rabbits. The RSPCA recommends that their place should be 50 to 68 °F (10 to 20 °C).

Now, your rabbit will be all set for the entire winter with a shelter that has everything they need. As long as they’re protected from the sleet and snow, as the VCA would say.

Of course, you might as well expect to see a litter of baby bunnies. Because some rabbits give birth during the winter. 

It’s definitely a good sight as the spring approaches.

You may also want to read: 9 Weird Reasons Why Rabbits Burrow (Underground) + 9 Tips