Bunnies are considered a sign of the arrival of the spring season. When people notice bunnies popping out of their holes, it simply indicates summer is here. But when summer is over, do bunnies hibernate?
The answer is NO! bunnies do not hibernate. There is not a single rabbit species that hibernate during the winter season. The fact is your cute bunnies are still active and enjoy their food throughout the season.
However, it does not mean that the cold doesn’t affect bunnies. The cold weather affects bunnies as much as it does humans. Their food supply gets short. The buds, grass, and weeds get buried under the snow.
Do Bunnies Hibernate? – What Do They Do In The Cold?
Hibernation is essentially an animal’s way of survival during certain seasons. Hibernation occurs when a season changes with the passage of time.
It can be the temperature and condition of weather and the availability of food resources.
It is basically a state of inactivity of an animal for a long period of time. The chemical reactions in the animal’s body also slow down. They do this in order to preserve their energy and other internal resources.
The animals that hibernate possess the following:
- Low body temperature
- Decreased heart rates
- Slow respiratory rates
- Slow metabolism
During hibernation, the animals do not perform essential activities of life like for example feeding their young born, and mating, etc. This is due to the fact that it costs the energy supply of the animal.
Some hibernating animals move from one place to another for a better place and to have a food supply nearby. Moreover, to keep themselves safe from predators who are roaming to hunt them down.
1) How Does A Bunny Survive During Winter?
It is not easy for bunnies to survive during the winter season. They constantly have to find food, avoid any predators and look for a warm place to stay.
When they are deprived of their favorite treats, the cute bunnies tend towards those plants which they ignore throughout the year.
A bunny that should be feeding on treats like, green beans, watermelon, bananas, oranges, and broccoli tends to eat woody plants in the winters. These include bark, green bushes, twigs, and even needles of pines.
Due to cold and the dire need for food, the bunnies cause great damage to houses, shrubs, and bushes, etc. They sometimes ingest their own waste for the purpose of recycling the nutrients.
Your cute bunny friends spend the cold days of weather in whatever place they can find easy to get shelter. Bunnies are quite clever creatures. They usually hide in areas that are warm and which are closer to food sources.
These requirements of theirs get fulfilled when they seek shelter near people’s homes.
In some cases, they tend to seek a hiding spot in people’s garages and windows in order to get warm. Fun Fact, they usually go at night for finding food supplies.
2) Do Domestic Bunnies Hibernate?
The simple answer is no, domestic bunnies do not hibernate. Do not expect your cute bunny friend to slow down and seek shelter during the winter season for hibernation. It is simply not going to happen.
There are some bunnies especially the domestic ones who love the cold weather. They are quite active, full of energy, and quite playful during winter. That is the reason they are called zoomies.
An important fact about rabbits is that they are more likely to have health issues from heat due to heat exhaustion. They are less likely to suffer from cold. A lot of rabbit owners are not aware of this fact.
Hence, make sure you give your cute little friend a lot of fresh water and a cool place to live during hot summer days.
3) Where Do The Wild Rabbits Hide During The Winter Season?
Whether they are wild or domestic, rabbits of any species do not undergo hibernation. They stay where they normally are and do not go anywhere during the cold.
They will play in the same places as they do during the summer and springtime. But the only difference is that they come out very little during winter as compared to other seasons.
You can find this cute little creature digging holes in the snow or finding warm places for themselves to hide. They also try to stay away from predators who are also looking for food during the cold season.
4) Can You Feed The Wild Bunnies During Winter Season?
You may be thinking about feeding a wild bunny during the winter season but watch out because it is not a good idea.
You can feed wild animals but you don’t have to as by doing this you will take away the natural instinct of rabbits.
They won’t be able to go after their food and they will get dependent on you. They are herbivores and feed mainly on green leaves, veggies, grasses, tree buds, and flowers, etc.
Hence, you have to leave them to be just the way they are. Let them find their own food. It is what they love to do and is best for them.
During the snow, their food supply may get short. But they are quite clever little creatures and will look for shrubs and trees to fulfill their needs.
No matter what the conditions are these creatures will find a way to source their food.
5) How The Body Of A Bunny Helps Him To Survive During Cold Season?
A number of people might be unaware of the fact that bunnies do quite well in the winter season. They have the kind of bodies which will adapt to any change in the weather condition.
Similar to other animals, the bodies of bunnies adapt to climatic change and protects them in the cold. As the weather gets colder, the coats of these bunnies tend to get thicker which provides them insulation and heat.
It keeps their body warm and protects them from foreign elements. When the weather starts warming up, these rabbits shed this thick fur. If you own a pet bunny you will know how much fur do they shed inside your house.
Another interesting fact about bunnies is that they eat a lot before the winter season. They do that in order to get a layer of fat that will keep them warm and will provide them with an extra source of energy.
The body of a rabbit consist of two layers of fat, a white one and a brown one. The white one is a storage space for energy and helps in the insulation of organs.
While the brown one occupies less space and provides heat when they burn.
6) Do Bunnies Migrate?
Rabbits do not migrate during winter. They spend their lives in the same place where they usually are.
Migration takes place when certain animals move to another place a long distance away from their homes. This migration occurs either annually or with the change of season.
This migration can also happen when the birds leave their nests and fly towards the sound during the cold season. Or when the salmon move towards the ocean on annual basis.
There are a number of different species especially mammals who make long-distance migrations for their survival during different seasons. However, your cute little bunnies are not part of these species.
Rabbits usually claim a few acres of land and they won’t go far from that point.
But during their time of mating, they increase the size of their territory up to 10 acres. Still, they do not migrate and stay at one place their entire life.
Reason Behind No-Hibernation Of Rabbits
You must be thinking about why rabbits do not hibernate, aren’t you?
The reason behind the no-hibernation of rabbits is that they are adapted to such situations. They are able to find food and warm shelter for themselves.
The bodies of these cute little creatures stay active. Strictly speaking, they do not need a power-saving mode to preserve their energy just like other hibernating animals.
Don’t forget the whole concept of hibernation for animals is to survive. This concept is for those animals who are unable to find food supplies during the winter season. Because of which they won’t be able to survive the cold.
3 Difficulties Bunnies Face During Winter
No doubt rabbits can survive the winter without going on hibernation. Their bodies adapt to every seasonal change. But apart from everything else, still, they face a number of difficulties during the winter season.
During the winter season, the population of rabbits declines drastically. Experts estimated that only about 30% is the survival rate of wild rabbits during the winter season.
This huge decline in the population of rabbits during the cold season occurs due to a number of reasons:
1) Shortage Of Food Supplies:
The biggest difficulty that rabbits face during the winter season is the scarcity of food supplies. They are herbivores and eat bushes, leaves, and grass, etc. but during the cold, they are all buried under snow.
So, it’s quite difficult for them to find food during the cold and that’s why sometimes they are forced to eat the things which don’t like.
2) The Fear Of Predators’ Attack:
During the summer and spring seasons, there are a lot of places for rabbits to hide and take shelter. But during the winter it gets quite difficult for bunnies to find a hiding spot. These hiding spots disappear during winter.
These cute little bunnies become vulnerable to the famished predators roaming around. It gets difficult for them to go out for finding food due to the fear of these violent predators.
3) The Fur Coat Of Rabbits Is Not Insulated Fully:
Rabbits are smart creatures and can survive in cold. All thanks to their thick furry coat. But these coats are not essential enough to survive freezing temperatures.
When the temperature falls below the freezing point, or when there are cold chilly winds, these can lead the bunnies to hypothermia.
The coat of the rabbits takes a long time to dry off when they get wet resulting in the death of the rabbit as well.
Do Bunnies Hibernate? How To Help Them In This Season?
It is kind when you think about helping the wild rabbits in the freezing cold weather. However, what you can do is to leave them to their natural instinct.
It is quite natural for a number of different animal species to have a decrease in their population during the winter season.
It’s sad, isn’t it? But you can help them in one way by planting bushes, trees or foliage, etc. that will help them during the cold days.
This will increase the number of food resources for these cute little bunnies in the winter and will give them more chances of survival.
The bunnies who live or take shelter near cities or towns have a higher chance of surviving in the winter as compared to the ones in forests. Furthermore, in cities and towns, there is very little danger of predators.
The only big danger in cities and towns is of fast-moving cars. The structures build by humans also provide shelter to these bunnies during the cold. Some of them get into peoples’ garages and take shelter there.
So, you are helping them in this way as well by letting them stay at your garages and planting trees for them.
1) How Do Bunnies Survive The Winter Without Hibernating?
Rabbits have bodies that help them in their survival during the cold. But the most interesting thing is that they sleep for a long period of time during the cold season.
Bunnies spend their entire day sleeping for almost 8 hours. And they do this napping by dividing their 8 hours of sleep, in short naps like for 25 to 30 minutes of nap several times a day.
A lot of animals hibernate during the winter season because of cold and shortage of food. But for bunnies, it’s not an issue. They are able to find their food and a warm place to get settled during the cold days.
Even when there is a shortage of food for bunnies, they still find some things to eat which they don’t like and ignore throughout the year.
2) How You Can Take Care Of A Domestic Bunny During The Cold Days?
Domestic bunnies or in other words pet bunnies are safely kept inside the house. They don’t need to worry about anything whether cold or scarcity of food or running from the predators.
However, one thing you have to make sure that don’t take these cute little bunnies outside during the cold weather. Keep them warm and give them their special treats.
Click here to know what you can feed your pet bunny during winter.
Make sure to keep your rabbit’s hutch covered. This will keep him safe from cold winds. Replace their water every day and get them extra bedding to keep them warm through the cold nights of winter.
Click here to know how you can make your rabbit’s hutch sheltered.
Make sure you don’t feed them treats that are cold. Because this can lead them to develop pneumonia or other similar diseases.
3) How Can You Determine Whether Your Bunny Has Hypothermia Or Not?
Hypothermia occurs when the body temperature falls extremely low which can be fatal. Hundreds of animals lose their life to hypothermia every year. Every rabbit owner must know the symptoms of hypothermia.
Whenever your bunny started developing hypothermia, the ears of your bunny as well as the feet will get extremely cold. Then they will start turning pale. Your rabbit will be unable to move that much or sometimes they will move but very slowly. After that watch out for shallow breathing.
Moreover, the heart rate of your bunny will significantly slow down. Make sure you watch for these symptoms and in case of the above symptoms contact your vet immediately for further assistance.
Click here to know more about hypothermia in rabbits.
4) How Much Cold Can Your Bunny Friend Tolerate?
Generally, bunnies are animals of cold weather. Their bodies can adapt to any change in the weather. They are able to tolerate very low temperatures even sometimes as low as below 0-degree Celsius.
However, if they are exposed to damp situations or get wet somehow, they can get pneumonia. Pneumonia itself can be lethal to these cute little creatures.
Moreover, some older rabbits who are prone to arthritis spend a very tough time in winters. Arthritis is quite painful and these rabbits have to bear the pain and survive the cold painful days.
Do Bunnies Hibernate: Conclusion:
So, do rabbits hibernate? The short answer is no your cute little bunny friends do not hibernate during winter. Rabbits do not migrate to other places as well. They stay in one place and spend their entire life there.
Make sure you keep your pet bunnies warm and feed them their favorite meals during the cold season. Furthermore, provide your bunny friend with double bedding to keep him warm throughout the night.
Try to plant trees and shrubs etc. This will help the wild rabbits get their food during the winter season. The snow covers all the food sources for them in winters and there is a scarcity of food for them.