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How can you tell if your rabbit is cold?

As rabbit owners, we want to make sure our furry friends are happy, healthy, and comfortable. One essential aspect of rabbit care is ensuring they maintain a proper body temperature. Rabbits are sensitive to temperature changes and can easily become too hot or too cold. Unlike humans who maintain a constant internal body temperature, rabbits are unable to regulate their body heat as efficiently. This means it’s up to you as the owner to watch for signs your rabbit is feeling chilly and make adjustments to keep them cozy.

Understanding a rabbit’s comfort zone

Rabbits have a comfort zone of around 60-72°F. Anything lower than 55°F starts getting too cold for a rabbit, while temperatures above 80°F can cause overheating. Their enclosure temperature is more important than the room temperature. Rabbits dislike drafts and thrive in a stable environment.

Certain breeds of rabbits, like the smaller dwarf breeds, are more prone to feeling cold than larger breeds. Lops with floppy ears that cover the ear canals are also more sensitive. Young and elderly rabbits require warmer temperatures as well. The perfect temperature for your specific rabbit depends on breed, body condition, and health factors.

Warning signs your rabbit is cold

It’s important to know the subtle signs that indicate your rabbit is feeling chilly so action can be taken before they get overly cold and uncomfortable. Here are the top signs to watch out for:

  • Lethargy or inactivity
  • Crouching in a ball
  • Reluctance to leave the nest box
  • Ears feeling cool to the touch
  • Fur puffed up
  • Shivering
  • Loss of appetite

If you notice any of these signs, especially multiple symptoms or shivering, it means your rabbit needs help warming up.

Checking your rabbit’s temperature

The most reliable way to tell if your rabbit is cold is to take their temperature. A rabbit’s normal temperature range is 101-103°F. If their temperature drops below 99°F, hypothermia is setting in and immediate action is required.

Follow these steps to take your rabbit’s temperature safely and accurately:

  1. Acclimate – Leave the thermometer out of the package for 15 minutes to remove the chill.
  2. Lubricate – Coat the end in a little pet-safe lubricant for easier insertion.
  3. Position – Gently wrap your rabbit in a towel, leaving hind end accessible.
  4. Insert – Gently insert the thermometer 1-2 inches into the rectum, angling slightly up.
  5. Wait – Wait for it to fully register, about 30-60 seconds.
  6. Read – Record the temperature and return rabbit to enclosure.
  7. Disinfect – Clean thermometer thoroughly between uses.

Taking their temperature whenever you suspect they are too cold will remove any guessing and let you know for sure.

How to warm up a cold rabbit

If you confirm your rabbit is hypothermic or their behavior indicates they need warming up, there are several effective methods to help them regain a normal temperature:

Adjust ambient temperature

If the whole room feels chilly, simply turning up the thermostat a few degrees can make a difference. Setting the temperature to 65-70°F is ideal. Place a space heater nearby to directly warm your rabbit’s housing, but keep it far enough to prevent overheating.

Move to a warmer area

Relocating your rabbit’s housing to a warmer room, like the bathroom or laundry room, can help them warm up quicker. Make sure the new area is free of drafts.

Add bedding

Increasing the amount of cozy bedding in their enclosure gives more insulation. Good options include straw, fleece blankets, and recycled paper litter. Fluffing up their existing bedding creates air pockets that trap heat better.

Offer a heating pad

A pet-safe microwaveable heating pad under one side of the enclosure warms from the ground up. This allows them to self-regulate by hopping on and off.

Fill a hot water bottle

Wrapping a hot water bottle in a towel and placing in the enclosure gives them a warm spot to cuddle against. Ensure it’s not uncomfortably hot by testing temperature before use.

Blow dry their fur

Use a low setting on a blow dryer to gently warm up their fur. Keep it moving continuously to avoid burning their skin. Focus on their back, sides and upper areas.

Offer warm water

Give your rabbit a bowl of warm water. As they drink, it raises their internal temperature. Add water to pellets to create a warm mash.

Increase movement

Encouraging gentle exercise like hopping around raises muscle temperature. You can motivate movement with favorite treats or toys but avoid stressing them.

Preventing your rabbit from getting too cold

Making a few adjustments to their housing and care routine can help protect your rabbit from the cold in the future:

  • Place enclosure away from drafts and windows.
  • Cover wire floors and walls to prevent cold rising from below.
  • Add extra bedding during colder months.
  • Ensure their fur is clean and mat-free for insulation.
  • Let them enjoy exercise time in warmer area of your home.
  • Limit time spent in outdoor enclosures during cold snaps.
  • Offer fresh Timothy hay at all times – digestion creates heat.
  • Make sure they always have access to drinking water.

Following these measures will help keep your rabbit warm and comfortable even when temperatures drop outside. Pay close attention for any signs they are feeling chilled.


Rabbits can’t regulate their body heat as well as other pets. This makes them prone to feeling cold at temperatures most humans find comfortable. Learning the subtle signs, like shivering and huddling, that indicate your rabbit is too cold allows you to take action to get them warmed up quickly. Adjusting their housing setup, bedding, and other care habits can help protect them from the cold. Being proactive will keep your bunny happy and prevent more serious health issues related to the cold. With proper attention to their comfort level, rabbits can thrive as indoor pets year-round.

Frequently Asked Questions

What temperature do rabbits like to live in?

The ideal temperature range for a rabbit is 60-72°F. Anything below 55°F or above 80°F can cause them stress. Their enclosure temperature matters more than overall room temp.

Do rabbits need heat lamps?

Healthy rabbits do not require special heating as long as their environment stays within an appropriate temperature range. Heat lamps can help raise the ambient temperature if they are cold. Always monitor use closely to prevent overheating.

Can rabbits get sick from the cold?

Yes, rabbits are susceptible to upper respiratory infections and pneumonia if housed in cold conditions long-term. Short-term cold exposure suppresses their immune system. Hypothermia can be fatal in extreme cases.

Should I cover my rabbit’s cage at night?

Covering their enclosure at night helps retain warmth and block drafts. Just ensure adequate ventilation is still possible to prevent moisture buildup inside.

How often do I need to check if my rabbit is cold?

When temperatures are borderline, it’s a good idea to check your rabbit’s comfort level every few hours. Look for huddling postures, cool ears, shivering, and stiffness. Checking their temperature confirms if intervention is needed.

Can I put a blanket in my rabbit’s cage?

Yes, it’s recommended to provide extra blanketing when trying to warm a chilly rabbit. Fleece and quilted blankets work well. Avoid loose threads they could catch claws on. Make sure they can still hop around freely.

Should I give my rabbit a hot water bottle?

Offering a microwavable hot water bottle, wrapped in a towel, can provide a cozy warming spot for them to cuddle against. Monitor use and don’t allow direct contact to avoid burning.

Can I use a space heater to warm my rabbit’s room?

A space heater can safely raise the ambient temperature of their room a few degrees. Place it far enough away to prevent overheating their enclosure. Never leave unattended or overnight.

Breed Ideal Minimum Temperature
Netherland Dwarf 65°F
Mini Rex 60°F
English Lop 55°F
Flemish Giant 45°F