Winter Living - Outdoors

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savingbuns

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Hope there are still some Eastern Ontario members here, that might be able to give Robin and I some pointers on keeping our newly rescued bunnies outside for the winter.

Now notwithstanding those very odd days where the weather man warns to bring your fur animals inside - (we have already prepared for that and will come in to the laundry room should there be warnings)

So just need the tips for their hutch and water - feeding runs and such with winter - snow in mind.

We just got a new hutch for them which I am going to make a few modifications right away - the doors are dab smack in the middle so will be closing them off and making new ones on the ends with a draft baffle - like they do in outdoor dog houses. The hutch is too low so it will be raised.

Putting insulation on the bottom and will enclose most of the space under the hutch for their outdoor hiding place and eating area - sort of like a bathroom/dining combo.

Will make a sub wall system to slid in extra insulation - that will keep the hutch warm in the winter and a little cooler in the summer.

The hutch has two 3 foot ex runs attached. Okay to stretch their legs in and not be so confined to a hutch all day. As my buns are somewhat bigger I want them to have a bit of ceiling height so they can stretch up in the mornings on their hind feet - good for the back muscles and general health. So removing the flat screen roof and making it into a peak and solid for more wealth protection and shade.

I plan to have an outer pen for the hutch to be inside of - so that they can be let out and run somewhat free all day. It is nicely tucked under trees and out of the wind too - but I will not be able to cover the top of that larger pen - so they will have to be put away in their safe house so to speak each day. Maybe after a year and we see how the care of them goes we may build a structure with a screen over it in the trees.

Any additional suggestions would be really great - to keep these cuties nice and warm....
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NorthernAutumn

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I would encourage you to find some sort of cover for your larger external pen. Hawks and owls can make short work of rabbits, even under the most watchful eye. Snow fencing is light, durable and cheap - would be very easy to put that over the larger enclosure, and you would't have winter snow load problems.

Glad to hear you are using the draft baffle style!

RSPCA guide lines suggest that pen size should allow for at least 3 large leaping hops, in all directions. Obviously, you can adapt your runs to your rabbits' dimensions using that rule of thumb.

Whereabouts in Eastern ON?
 

Bville

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I'm keeping my rabbits in an outdoor hutch this winter too. I live in upstate NY. Your insulation sounds great. It might be all you need. I didn't insulate our hutch so I am using a couple of small animal warming mats that I bought from an eBay store. I have also had my husband make a box to put inside their "bedrooms" and put straw all around it to insulate. My two dwarf bunnies have rearranged the straw to their liking and it's really quite interesting how they've made their own tunnel and bed with it.
 

ChocoClover

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How did it work out? I'm still working on my own winter setup and if you learned anything, I'd love to hear it.
 
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Bville

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They did great over the winter. Smokey got an eye infection in the spring and was starting with GI stasis so I brought him in for a couple of weeks until he was better. In addition to the warming mats, I got heated water bowls to prevent the water from freezing.

After surviving subzero temperatures all winter long, I just had to move all three of my bunnies inside for a few days because of the heat...go figure! The trees I was counting on to shade their hutches for the summer are slow to get their leaves and it is supposed to be in the 80s for the next couple of days. I spent a bunch of time this past week on some hot days going out to take them frozen water bottles and tiles and also wet down their head and ears to keep them cool. Bringing them into my cool basement for a few days seemed easier, but it did take me an hour and a half to set them up down there. Smokey is doing binkies, but Fred looks freaked out. Pepper is rearranging her cage...just like a woman!!
 
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