When I bought my first pair of rabbits in Thailand around eight years ago, I was told by the breeder they were both girls. Five months later and one of the girls was pregnant, with the other ‘girl’ obviously being the father. The mother-to-be gave birth in the corner of my bedroom on a blanket on the floor and, from then on, she was a good mother with the small litter of two kittens she ultimately had.
Living in Bangkok, Thailand, however, which is officially the world’s hottest city, I had to make sure I took extra precautions as it can be difficult to keep baby rabbits cool and healthy in a hot climate.
If you live in a hot climate, whether it’s Dallas, Texas, Athens, Greece or Bangkok, Thailand, you too will have to take some precautions to make sure your newborn baby rabbits don’t overheat. These tips will help.
Keep the room at a consistent temperature – The optimal temperature for rabbits is between 68 to 73 degrees fahrenheit. Newborn baby rabbits can stand it warmer than that, as they are born without fur and don’t grow fur for most of their first week of life. If you live in a hot climate, however, you still want to watch the temperature as a newborn baby rabbit can still overheat.
The room also needs to be kept at a consistent temperature even when you are trying to keep baby rabbits cool, as being hot and then cold can give your newborn baby rabbits a life-threatening chill.
Keep baby rabbits cool with constant air conditioning – In my apartment, if I don’t have the air conditioning on, it’s routinely 80 degrees fahrenheit plus. Having lived in Thailand for over a decade, that temperature is perfect for me. For Thai rabbits, however, and their thick fur coats, it can be more than just a little uncomfortable. In fact, it can be dangerous.
With baby rabbits that also means, while you don’t want to be blasting air conditioning so they catch a chill, particularly as they don’t grow fur for the first week of life, you also don’t want them to die from overheating.
That’s why I set my air conditioning at a pleasant 75 degrees from the minute they were born, and I kept it on at that temperature all day. As Bangkok doesn’t cool off much at night, it needed to run it most of the night as well.
If you live in a hot climate that does go cooler in the evenings, however, you may be able to turn the air conditioner off once it reaches eight or nine pm. I chose 75 degrees, of course, because newborn baby rabbits don’t have any fur, so they can stand it a little warmer than their parents might.
As for the mother rabbit, she didn’t seem to want to be close to her kittens, and just appeared a couple of times a day to feed them and a few other times to check on them, so she stayed in the part of the apartment where her cage is, and that’s always kept at a constant 70 degrees. Cool enough for an adult rabbit.
Provide blankets – While the idea is to keep baby rabbits cool, you also don’t want them to get cold if a sudden colder spell occurs – particularly in the middle of the night when you are sleeping. That’s why I made sure my baby rabbits were kept in a large basket with a blanket they could snuggle into if they got cold.
I caught them a couple of times with their heads pushed under the blankets happily sleeping and just their little butts stuck out, so they must have felt a little chill.
Fans aren’t a good idea – I never use fans with my rabbits, whether they are newborn babies or adults. That’s because the air from the fan needs to be blowing on them to keep them cool, and my rabbits hate how that feels.
Plus, a blast of constant air trained onto a newborn baby that doesn’t move around can cause it to have eye or ear problems, and so isn’t such a good idea.
When your baby rabbits’ fur appears – Newborn baby rabbits usually begin to develop fur around four or five days, and by the end of two weeks are usually quite well covered. That’s when I turned the air conditioner down a little, so the constant temperature was then running at 77 degrees.
To ensure they stay completely cool, and once they start moving around, you can also fill some plastic bottles with water, freeze them in your freezer and then leaving them lying around the room. If your baby rabbits are hot, they’ll soon seek them out, and spend some time lying against them.
Monitor your baby rabbits’ behavior – You can tell quickly if your baby rabbits are overheating, as they will lie out full length and start to pant. As soon as you see this happening, you must get the room cooled down to a more acceptable temperature, as they can die from heat exhaustion quickly.
That’s why, for me, it just made sense to keep the air conditioner at a constant temperature so there was never any type of emergency, and my baby rabbits stayed perfectly comfortable and cool.
You can get a lot more tips on how to properly take care of your pet rabbits on the House Rabbit Society’s website.