Lori Vear, ACDC Rabbit Director, is hot and bothered. She’s working hard to get pet rabbits indoors during the summer. “Outdoor hutch bunnies face life-threatening conditions. Rabbits do not tolerate heat well, and high humidity combined with temperatures over 80 degrees can kill a rabbit,” Lori explains.
High temperatures can cause a rabbit to suffer from heat exhaustion. Rabbit sweat glands are located in their lips, which are not very effective in dispelling heat. Bunnies cannot easily pant when hot, compounding the problem. As the temperature rises, rabbits tend to drink less water, causing dehydration, and then they do not pant at all. Unsurprisingly, Lori’s on a mission to get people to keep rabbits indoors in air conditioned environments.
She offers these tips to help pet rabbits who must stay outdoors survive the heat:
- Keep the hutch in complete shade and in a breezy area.
- Fill clean, empty plastic soda bottles with water, freeze them, and put them in the hutch for the rabbit to lie against. Replace often.
- Provide plenty of cool, fresh drinking water.
- Know the DANGER SIGNS: A bunny who is listless, stretched out, panting, or drooling is in a state of emergency. Bring him inside, rinse his ears with room-temperature water, offer him a drink of water, and get him to a vet immediately.
Still, Lori and many others believe that rabbits are pets best kept indoors. “Indoor rabbits are affectionate, playful, and easily litter box trained.”