|SUMMER TIPS FOR KEEPING YOUR BUNNY COOL AND HAPPY
|HEAT KILLS BUNNIES
|It is critical that your bunny be kept in a well shaded and well ventilated area during the summer months. Keep them out of direct summer sun at all times.
|FROZEN BOTTLES HELP
|Fill 2 litre soda or Gatorade bottles with water and freeze overnight. On any day that the temperatures are expected to exceed 80 degrees, put one or more bottles in the cage with your rabbit. Some bunnies will lay on the bottle, others will be happy to just have the air cooled by blowing around the bottle.
|Adding ice cubes to the drinking water is helpful as well. It cools the area slightly and encourages them to drink more. Rabbits will not drink hot water and become dehydrated quickly.
|FANS AND SWAMP COOLERS
|If you run fans or swamp coolers for your bunnies, be sure to direct the air flow ABOVE or BELOW the cage, not directly on the rabbit. Swamp coolers should have vinegar or tea added to the water supply frequently to prevent the growth of a bacteria called Pseudomonas.
THERMOSTATS built into fans are a great way to be sure the rabbits stay cool while you are away. You can set them to go on a certain temperature and will turn themselves off when it cools down.
In summer months after heavy winer rains mosquitos are rampant. They can carry a virus known as Myxamytosis which can be deadly to rabbits. There is no treatment other than paliative care to reduce suffering. It can be evident by tumors on the face or body, severely weepy eyes, lethargy and loss of appetite.
PREVENTION is your best defense. Check for any standing water that can be host to larvae. Change rabbit drinking water daily. Bounce dryer sheets can deter mosquitos as well. You can hang them over your cages but not so close that the rabbit can reach it. Screen doors are helpful. Spraying deet products like OFF on door jams and window sills, and on wooden surface of hutches will help keep mosquitos away.
Check with your county Vector Control Department to see what services they offer for prevention. Mosquito fish are helpful if you have stock or ornamental ponds. There is a product called "Dunks" that can be put in bird baths and stock ponds as well. Vector control has crystals that can be put in muddy areas such as around water troughs where cattle or horses leave indentations in the ground that fill with water dribbled from their mouths while drinking.
|MISTERS:Misters are another way to cool the air around your rabbit. Unless the temperatures exceed 100 degrees, I prefer not to get the rabbits wet but just to cool the air with the mist. If you attach the mister to the top of the hutch the mist will circulate around and run down the back of the hutch acting like a swamp cooler.
If your rabbits are in a barn, shed or other building, you might try putting a sprinkler on the roof. As the water falls off the roof it acts as a swamp cooler. We have sprinklers on the roof of the barn which slopes east and west. Then on the south side we run misters along the walkway. Box fans are installed in the windows along the walkway and carry the cooled air into the barn down the center of each isle. The north side has misters about 8 feet away to avoid getting nests wet but still cooling the air.
Sprinklers running parallel to or on top of outdoor hutches work as well although it tends to waste a lot of water and makes a mess in poorly drained areas.
You can make little air conditioned rooms for your bunny by putting a small frozen bottle inside a nest box, wooden hiding box , igloo or cocoon . A small bottle will cool the area remarkably. PVC pipe is another way to keep them cool. Our rabbits love their pipe and some will just lie with their head and ears int he tube to stay cool.
When leaving on vacation it is best to take the bunny to someone who will be able to tend to the cooling process.
Don't leave the rabbit unattended for more than 12 hours without someone checking on it to be sure it has plenty of COOL water to drink and adequate cooling in the form of frozen bottles or misters etc. Rabbits become overheated very easily and can die in a matter of hours. Power failures or rotating black outs can kill a rabbit in minutes.
|WATCH THE DECLINATION OF THE SUN:
As the earth rotates, the position of the sun changes as well. A patio cover that sheltered the bunny during the winter may fall prey to late afternoon sun (the hottest kind) that can reach under a previously protected space. Make a point of checking the sun's position relative to the cage throughout the day BEFORE it gets hot!
|SYMPTOMS OF HEAT STROKE:
If you come home and find your bunny laying stretched out with his head back and breathing through his mouth, HE IS IN TROUBLE! Cool him quickly be putting him in a sink or tub of room temperature (not too hot, not too cold) water. Pour the water over his ears. Rabbits cannot pant or sweat and exchange heat through their ears so cooling the ears is critical. When normal breathing resumes, remove him from the water and towel dry. Lay the rabbit in a shower stall or tub until normal activity resumes and fur is dry.
When a rabbit is found running frantically around his cage in very hot weather, it is probably the result of heatstroke. The brain swells causing irrational behavior. Wrap him in a sheet or light weight cloth to calm him and immerse in tepid water as described above.
|REMEMBER, these are living creatures and YOU are responsible. Adults must double check on the condition of the animals and must NEVER assume a child has properly cared for the animal.