Rabbits prefer cooler temperatures and they can overheat quite easily.
I came home one summer’s day to find that my rabbit was panting and feeling lethargic. Plus, my rabbit’s ears were hot.
I know what my rabbit’s ideal internal body temperature should be, so I decided on a whim to take its temperature.
I was shocked to see it was 105° F. I realized my rabbit was overheating because it was so hot.
I wondered if I could turn on the AC to help my rabbit cool down. After all, what else could I do?
Rabbits only need the air conditioning to be turned on during hot summer days or a heatwave. A rabbit may also need the AC on “on” when they are overheating. You can also keep the AC on even while you aren’t at home so your pet rabbit can stay cool.
When Do Rabbits Need the AC to Be On
Rabbits need to be cooled down during the summer months when it is hot outside or during a heatwave.
The ideal temperature range for rabbits is 50° F to 70° F. However, these small mammals are also comfortable in temperatures as low as 45° F or high as 75° F.
Your rabbit may start overheating when the outside or room temperature reaches 80° F or more. If your rabbit has long hair, then it may start to overheat at 75° F.
When the temperature gets to 95° F, your rabbit won’t be able to regulate its internal temperature.
So turn the AC on in your home on those hot summer days or when your rabbit’s internal temperature is higher than 101° F to 103° F.
Signs Your Rabbit Is Overheating
If you aren’t sure that your rabbit is overheating, there are a few signs to look out for.
Feel your rabbit’s ears while you pet and stroke it. If the ears feel hot or are red, then your bunny may be overheating.
Take your rabbit’s internal temperature with a digital thermometer to be sure.
Wetness Around the Nose
Another sign your rabbit is overheating is wetness around its nose.
If your rabbit’s nose and mouth are blue, your rabbit may be suffering from severe heat-stroke.
While a lethargic rabbit could point to a number of illnesses, one of these could be a rabbit that’s overheating.
When your rabbit is lethargic, it won’t be playing or hopping around.
Your rabbit will be lying down and most likely won’t groom itself. There will also be a lack of appetite that accompanies lethargy.
While a slobbering dog is normal, a rabbit that salivates isn’t.
So if your rabbit is salivating, it’s one of the signs that it is experiencing hyperthermia.
Hyperventilating or Shallow Breathing
If your rabbit is breathing fast, shallow, or irregularly, it may be suffering heat exhaustion.
You may also notice that your rabbit’s nose is twitching more.
If your bunny is out of sorts, it could be a sign that it’s experiencing severe hyperthermia.
Convulsions or seizures are another indications of a rabbit that’s overheating; however, it could also be a symptom of other diseases.
10 Ways to Cool Down Your Rabbit
When it is hot or there is a heatwave, ensure your rabbit doesn’t overheat.
Follow these tips to help your rabbit cool down:
1. Turn on the Air Conditioner
Even when you aren’t home but it is hot, turn on the AC if you keep your pet rabbit indoors.
Rabbits actually prefer colder temperatures over hot conditions, so the AC chilling the room will be ideal for your bunny.
If you live in an area where summer days regularly see temperatures soar and reach more than 80° F, keep the AC at 70° F or 75° F even when you aren’t at home.
This will ensure your rabbit stays nice and cool and won’t overheat.
2. Turn on a Fan
Similar to an AC, you can also turn on a fan if you don’t have an air conditioner.
The fan should be put on its oscillating function (if it has this feature) to cool down the room.
If the fan can’t oscillate, avoid letting the fan blow cool air directly on your rabbit.
3. Add Cold Water to the Water Bowl
Another way to keep your rabbit cool on hot days is to fill the water bowl with cold water from the fridge.
You can also add a few ice cubes so the water stays cooler for longer.
4. Get Ice Bottles
Freeze water-filled bottles and then place a couple of these around your rabbit’s cage or hutch.
When your rabbit feels hot, it can lay next to the bottle to cool down. You can also use ice bricks if you have those in your freezer.
5. Spritz Your Rabbit’s Ears With Cool Water
With a spritz bottle, you can spray your rabbit’s ears to help it to cool down.
Make sure you don’t soak the fur on your rabbit’s ears and don’t use icy cold water.
Excessive cold can make your rabbit feel uncomfortable or they could have a fright at the cold water.
If severe enough, a fright could result in a heart attack, which can be fatal.
6. Build a Towel Fort
Wet a towel and wring it thoroughly so it doesn’t drip anymore. Then, place the moist towel over a part of your rabbit’s cage.
When your rabbit feels hot, it can lay down under the area where you placed the damp towel.
7. Give Your Rabbit a Marble or Ceramic Tile
Just like dogs like to lay down on the cool tile floor on a hot day, so does your rabbit.
So get two to four ceramic or marble tiles for your rabbit, and on a hot day, you can place these in the hutch or cage.
When your rabbit feels hot, it can hop over and lay down on the cool tiles.
On those extra hot days, I like to place the tiles in my refrigerator for an hour or two so they can be cooler for my bunny.
8. Move Your Rabbit to a Cooler Area
Rather than run the AC or a fan, move your rabbit to a cooler area of the house. If you have a basement, then this is ideal.
Basements can be up to 15° F cooler than the rest of the house.
With no or few windows in the basement, sunlight can’t get in to warm up the area. So it is naturally cooler.
9. Move Your Rabbit to the Shade
Move your rabbit hutch to the shade if your rabbit stays outside or plays outside on hot days.
If your rabbit is in direct sunlight during a heatwave or summer, it can easily overheat and lead to heat exhaustion, dehydration, or other serious health concerns.
Also read: 7 Easy Ways to Keep Rabbit Hutch Cool in Summer
10. Feed Fresh Leafy Greens That’s Washed in Cool Water
When it is feeding time, wash the leafy green veggies in cool water. Don’t shake off the water droplets.
Feed this to your rabbit.
The extra water on the leafy greens helps to hydrate your bunny on those hot days and eating something cool is refreshing when it’s warm.
What Not to Do When Cooling Down Your Rabbit
There are a few things that are big no-nos when you need to help your rabbit cool down
- Feed your rabbit frozen treats, like frozen veggies or leafy greens. This can hamper their digestion and lead to a costly visit to the vet.
- Give your rabbit a cold or ice bath. Your rabbit will get stressed, leading to shock and possibly death.
- Cool down your rabbit too much. Their internal temperature should be between 101 and 103° F, so ensure it doesn’t drop below the 101° F point.
What to Do When the AC and Other Cooling Down Methods Aren’t Working
Your rabbit may be suffering from severe heat exhaustion, hyperthermia, or heat stroke when you try to cool it down.
At this point, it may already be too late.
So what can you do?
Call the Vet
Call the vet immediately if you notice that your rabbit is overheating.
Your vet will be able to advise you better what you can do or you may need to take your rabbit in for an emergency appointment.
If you have a friend or family member with you, you can drive to the vet while the other person helps you cool down your bunny.
Follow the tips I shared above. You can place a frozen water bottle or ice brick next to your rabbit during the car ride. Or you can spritz your rabbit’s ears with cool water.
You can also burrito-wrap your bunny in a damp towel. Ensure you don’t wrap your bunny too tightly.
The towel should also not be dripping wet. You merely want to help your rabbit to cool down, not soak their fur or get your rabbit to go into shock because of the cold.
Alternatively, try to get them to drink cool water from a water bowl or water bottle. And turn on the AC in the car, or open some windows to circulate air.
Some FAQs About Rabbit and Air Conditioning
What temperature is too hot for bunnies?
Outside or ambient temperatures of 80° F or more is too hot for rabbits, and they can easily suffer from heatstroke, heat exhaustion, or hyperthermia if it gets too hot for them.
How do you keep rabbits cool without an AC?
If you don’t have an air conditioner, there are various ways to keep your rabbit cool during hot summer days or a heatwave.
Place cold, icy water in your rabbit’s water bowl, mist your rabbit’s ears, place your rabbit in the basement or a cooler part of your house, trim excess fur, turn on a fan and use its oscillating function, place marble tiles in the fridge before moving them to your rabbit’s hutch or cage, or place frozen water bottles around the cage or hutch.
Can I spray my rabbit with water?
You can spray your rabbit with water to help it to cool down. Simply spritz a bit of water once on your rabbit’s ears on hot days.
Make sure you don’t drench your rabbit’s coat with water as it takes a long time for the fur to dry, and should your rabbit catch a cold because of cold wind, your rabbit can become seriously ill and die.
It’s good to know that rabbits can overheat and what to look out for when a rabbit is suffering from heat exhaustion.
If your rabbit is overheating, you now know what to do, and if you aren’t sure, give your local vet a call. Rather be safe than sorry, right?
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