What Temp is Too Hot or Too Cold for Rabbits?

Rabbits, somewhat surprisingly, actually have a pretty narrow temperature range where they are comfortable. It’s not uncommon to see them running around in the middle of the summer and even when it’s starting to get very cold out in late fall.

a rabbit eating a slice of carrot
a rabbit eating a slice of carrot

Nonetheless, rabbits can suffer from hypothermia and hyperthermia alike. What temperatures are too hot for rabbits, and too cold?

A rabbit will be uncomfortably hot around 80°F and overheating at 85°F or warmer. Most adults will be too cold when the temperature falls below 25°F. Rabbits will be most comfortable between 55°F and 70°F.

Interesting, eh? It’s easy to think of rabbits as being impervious to the elements because most folks imagine them as living in the wild 24/7, but domestic rabbits are surprisingly sensitive to temperature extremes.

In my experience, most rabbits prove to be very vulnerable to overheating in particular, because that fur coat that helps them so much in the winter is a hindrance in the summer.

There’s more you’ll want to know to keep your rabbits safe and comfortable, so stick with me…

Do Rabbits Do Better in Hot Weather or Cold Weather?

As a rule of thumb, rabbits are better able to withstand cold weather and are comfortable longer in cooler temperatures compared to warmer temperatures.

Consider that at room temperature, let’s just call it 69°F, a rabbit will be comfy but will, in short order ,become very uncomfortable if the temperature rises just 11°.

Conversely, it can drop almost 20° before they start to be adversely impacted by a chill, and drop a lot further still until they are genuinely in danger of the cold.

Comfortable Temps for You Are Actually Hard on Bunnies

That’s something that I want you to keep in mind with your rabbits: temperatures that will be comfortable enough for you can be outright dangerous for your rabbit.

Elevated temperatures especially can be highly problematic if they are already active or are unable to get out of direct sunlight. A rabbit that is forced to stay in the sun on a relatively mild 78°F (25 °C) day will easily start to overheat in short order!

Must always consider the safety of your rabbit according to what they can tolerate, not what is comfortable for you. This isn’t necessarily a case of if you are hot, they are hot, or vice versa!

How Do Rabbits Deal with Cold Temps?

Rabbits deal with cold temperatures by relying on their high metabolisms to generate body heat and also their supremely insulating fur. In extremely cold weather, rabbits will retreat to warm burrows and warrens for shelter when in the wild.

Luckily, most rabbits are pretty good at putting up with cool weather and they have to get downright cold before they are in any real danger: below 25°F as a rule.

How Do Rabbits Deal with Hot Temps?

Rabbits don’t cope with hot temperatures very well, and they typically rely on staying out of direct sunlight and in the shade when the weather warms up.

In the wild, they retreat underground to their warrens which remain considerably cooler than the aboveground temperatures.

In captivity, rabbits will try to stay hydrated, take advantage of air currents, and place themselves in physical contact with cool surfaces in order to cool down. But, that’s easier said than done thanks to that fur and high metabolism we talked about previously.

It’s a lot like you trying to stay cool by taking advantage of a weak breeze while wearing a fur parka zipped up to your throat! Wouldn’t work too well, would it?

Long Haired and Large Breeds Struggle More in the Heat

Keep in mind also that long-haired rabbit breeds as well as larger ones are particularly vulnerable to higher temperatures. They can potentially be in danger when the temperature is just 80°F, potentially even lower if they’re active or in direct sunlight.

Angoras, Rexes, Lionheads and other breeds falling into either category should be scrupulously watched if you can’t keep them in a climate-controlled environment or help them beat the heat.

But, the trade-off and the good news, is that these breeds do even better than other rabbits when temps plot thanks to their great size or extremely insulating fur…

Baby Bunnies are Vulnerable to Extremes

Another factor you probably predicted is that baby bunnies are more vulnerable to temperature swings compared to adult rabbits. The younger the bunny, the more they need to be protected and kept in ideal temperatures.

Bunnies are particularly vulnerable to cold, and likewise to cold shock. If a baby bunny overheats and you try to cool them rapidly by dousing them with water or dipping them, they might perish immediately from the shock.

These precious little ones are fragile, so make sure you take care to keep them comfortable and safe.

Be Sure to Check Their Pen or Enclosure Temperature

It’s easy to fall into the trap of looking at the thermometer or checking the weather report in the case of outdoor rabbits and then declaring them good or not good based on that alone. This is a mistake.

You need to factor in things like direct sunlight, air flow in their enclosure, cool or hot surfaces that might be warming or chilling them accordingly, and more.

Even in the case of indoor rabbits, it pays to take stock and assess if you need to remove bedding, add a cool piece of tile or stone for them to lie on, or do something else to help them moderate the temperature.

Making Sure Your Rabbits Stay Comfortable

It is possible to keep your rabbits comfortable, or at the very least safe, during temperature extremes but it can be a big job.

In cold weather, you need to provide insulation, warm bedding, and protection from moisture and humidity. Keeping them in a climate-controlled environment or providing a nearby heater, safely, could be a good idea.

Warm weather is more challenging, and it’s mostly a matter of making sure rabbits stay hydrated, have adequate ventilation, protection from direct sunlight, and cool surfaces to lie on in order to keep their body temp down.

Again, climate control is your friend here though, for folks who are keeping anything but a pet rabbit or two, this might not be an option.

Leave a Comment