I own a Holland Lop, that I’ve had my bunny for a full year.
I got Snoop, my bunny, last July, and he lives outside in a rabbit tractor. As his first winter approached I was curious if my bunny was going to hibernate so I did some research.
I thought I’d share what I learned in my research and from my own first-hand experience with my outdoor pet rabbit.
Neither pet bunnies nor wild rabbits hibernate. However, they will experience some changes in behavior and even in their appearance during the winter months if they are exposed to colder conditions.
Do Wild Rabbits Hibernate
Wild rabbits do not hibernate, but their behavior will change during the winter. These changes include a much different winter diet vs summer diet.
During the summer, wild rabbits survive by eating vegetation and weeds like grass, clovers, flowers, wildflowers, and vegetables.
However, in the winter, wild rabbits don’t have access to their favorite warm-weather foods, they have to find new ways to survive.
In the winter they rely upon food buried in the snow, and the main part of their diet is tree bark.
We have tons of wild bunnies in our yard, most of them being light brown with fluffy white tails. We see these wild rabbits out and about year-round, so I know they don’t hibernate.
It’s even easier to see them in the winter because there is less vegetation for them to hide within, and their brown coats stand out in contrast to a fresh white snowfall.
In the morning after a snowfall, we enjoy tracking the wild rabbits by their little paw prints in the snow! You’ll be surprised how much you can learn about a rabbit’s life from his tracks in the snow.
You can see what areas they visited, what they dug through the snow to eat and even track them back to the burrow where they live.
Do Pet Rabbits Hibernate In The Winter?
Pet bunnies do not hibernate regardless of how cold it gets. They don’t even get sluggish in the winter and usually will demonstrate more energy than they show in the hotter summer months. Bunnies prefer cold to heat.
They do have it easier than wild rabbits, because of your providing shelter and food.
I did my research before getting my bunny because I knew that I would be keeping him outdoors. Everything I was reading was saying that my bunny wouldn’t hibernate.
Even after all my research, I was curious how winter would affect my rabbit, so I made sure to keep a close eye on him.
5 Ways That Winter Effects Bunnies
If your bunny lives outside like mine, you’ll want to make sure he or she has a covered area to hide in. If they have a covered area they’ll be fine, in fact, rabbits LOVE winter time.
Bunny’s are actually more likely to die of a heat stroke than die of hypothermia, so don’t worry about your bunny freezing as long as you’ve provided a suitable outdoor shelter.
If your still worried about your rabbit getting cold while living outside during the winter, check out our article “How To Keep Your Rabbit Warm In The Winter”
If your bunny lives indoors, winter won’t affect them because they don’t have to deal with temperature or sunlight changes.
If your bunny-rabbit lives outdoors, their fur, eating habits, and even their behavior can change!
1. Rabbits Fur Changes In The Winter
Going into the fall season, your rabbit will start to grow a thicker winter coat while at the same time shedding its summer fur.
Your bunnies fur will probably change colors as this new coat grows in. In my rabbit’s case, his winter coat got darker in color, and in the summer it gets lighter.
This change in color kind of makes sense because darker colors attract more heat to keep them warmer in the winter and lighter colors are cooler in the heat of the summer.
2. Rabbits Eating Habits Change In Winter
In the winter your rabbit will eat more, they do this to help keep their body temperature at a stable level.
Our Californian rabbit, Buster, is the weather forecaster for our family.
He seems to know when a winter storm is coming and he eats way more than normal starting about six hours before the storm arrives.
He’s way more accurate than the weather man on TV.
Watch your outdoor bunny and let me know in the comments if you see the same forecasting ability!
3. Rabbits Drinking Habits Change During Winter
In the winter your bunny-rabbit will be drinking less water because it’s not as hot. In the summer, however, your rabbit will drink WAY more water.
During the winter months, you should check on your bunny-rabbits water 1-2 times a day. This needs to be done because their water will freeze, making it impossible to drink.
Just because their drinking less water, doesn’t mean that you should stop maintaining constant water availability.
While they can get water from snow, my bunnies are much happier when they can get a drink of warm water several times throughout the day.
4. More Time In Their Beds
In the winter, your bunny won’t hibernate, but they will be spending more time in their bunny bed.
This is usually because the conditions are a bit harsher, and they’re hunkering down to stay warm and out of the wind.
You can help them out by making sure they have a sheltered area padded with hay or cedar chips.
Here is an article we wrote about keeping your outdoor bunny warm during the winter months.
5. Changes In Your Rabbits Energy Level & Playfulness
Rabbits are most playful in fall because they love cool weather, but as it gets colder they’ll get a little less active.
They also don’t enjoy super hot weather, so you might notice in the summer they aren’t quite as energetic either.
You might also notice that in the summer your bunny will be more playful in the evening because it starts to cool down.
Rabbits are dawn-dusk animals or “Crepuscular” pets. If you want to learn more check out our article “Are Rabbits Nocturnal, Diurnal, or Crepuscular?“
From both research and personal experience, I can assure you that rabbits do not hibernate, even if they live outside and experience the full force of winter weather.
However, they will change in both appearance and behavior.
Please let me know in the comments what changes you see in your pet rabbit through the seasons. Every bunny, just like every person, is a little different. I can’t wait to hear about your rabbit.
P.S. If you have a picture or video of your cute bunny that you’d like to see on our website or social media accounts you can email it to my dad at Stacey@RabbitPros.com.