Hepper is reader-supported. When you buy via links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission at no cost to you. Learn more.

Do Pet Rabbits Hibernate? Rabbit Behavior Explained

Patricia Dickson

By Patricia Dickson

Flemish Giant rabbit sleeping

Rabbits are abundant in the wild, and many keep them as pets. Some people have the mistaken assumption that rabbits hibernate in the winter. The truth is that neither wild nor pet rabbits hibernate.

However, it’s important to note that if the rabbits are exposed to colder conditions, they will change their appearance and behavior. If you’ve ever wondered how to care for your pet rabbit in the winter,  we’ve got you covered. We’ll discuss how rabbits change during the winter and how to protect your rabbit from the colder conditions.


Do Pet Rabbits Hibernate?

No, pet rabbits do not hibernate, and neither do wild rabbits. People don’t see wild rabbits running through their yards in the winter because they tend to stay in one place when the temperatures drop. A pet rabbit is in a secure location, being kept warm, and fed, so they have even less reason to hibernate than a wild rabbit.

Dutch Dwarf Rabbit
Image Credit: Volha Suhakova, Shutterstock

Ways Cold Affects Your Pet Rabbit

If your bunny lives inside, it won’t be affected by the winter. However, if they live outside, there are a few ways that winter will change your little furry friend.

Fur Changes

If your rabbit lives outside, it will get a thicker coat in the winter months. This shedding will start in the fall, and your rabbit will have a thicker coat by winter. Sometimes, the color of the rabbit’s fur will change as well, with its winter coat being darker and the summer fur being lighter.

Eating Habit Changes

In the winter, you might notice your bunny eating more. They eat more to help stabilize their body temperature. This will happen if your rabbit lives outside but won’t occur if you keep it indoors.

thrianta rabbit
Image Credit: Georgia Evans, Shutterstock

Drinking Habit Changes

If you’ve noticed that your rabbit drinks a ton during the summer months, it’s because they are staying cool. In the winter, the rabbit will drink a lot less because they aren’t hot and don’t need to. Make sure you check our rabbit’s water bottle two or three times a day during the winter so that it doesn’t freeze.

Spending More Time in Their Bed

While bunnies don’t hibernate, you will find that your bunny spends more time snuggled in its bed during the winter season. They usually do this because the conditions are harsher, so they snuggle down into their beds to stay out of the wind and extreme conditions. With the tips in our next section, you can help your rabbit stay warm and safe during the brutal winter season.

amber rex rabbit
Image Credit: Diana Sklarova, Shutterstock

How to Protect Your Pet Rabbit During the Cold Season

While rabbits are quite energetic during the fall, they tend to slow down during winter because of the cold.

Shelter Them

Make sure that your rabbit has shelter from winter storms and the wind. You should put its hutch in an area that blocks against the wind, snow, rain, and sleet. You don’t want a cold wind blowing into your rabbit’s hutch and making it uncomfortable. You can place a cardboard box in the hutch lined with barley straw or paper to keep your pet insulated from the cold. If you have an outdoor hutch made of wire mesh, you can drape a tarp over it to shield the rabbit from the elements.

Keep Them Dry

Rabbits don’t like to live in wet or damp conditions. Make sure that you keep the rabbit hutch dry and clean. If you see that water is somehow seeping into the hutch, it’s best to move it to another location.

Black Beveren Rabbit sitting in hay
Image Credit: luetho, Pixabay

Feed Them a Little More

Rabbits constantly consume hay, but during the winter, you should increase your supplies since they will eat more.

Protect Your Furry Friend

While you’ve done everything possible to make your rabbit cozy and warm during the winter, you must also protect your furry friend from predators. While predators are also out and about in the warm months, they are looking for food more during the cold winter.

During the winter, animals such as badgers and foxes are hungrier and bolder, which means they will work hard to get through the hutch to your pet. Ensure the hutch is durable enough to stop a predator from breaking through and making your rabbit a meal.

rabbit eating pellets
Image Credit: Kaewmanee jiangsihui, Shutterstock

Make Sure to Give Them Access to Their Run

Even though it’s winter and cold outside, your rabbit still needs to be able to get exercise. If it’s too frosty outside for your rabbit to run and play, you can take it indoors in a secure room for exercise.

divider_rabbitFinal Thoughts

Contrary to popular belief, rabbits do not hibernate in the winter. However, its eating habits will change, and its fur will grow thicker. If your pet rabbit is kept outside, it will get a bit slower during the winter season, but it will still come out to exercise, eat, and sit in the sun. If you have your rabbit in a hutch outside, it’s essential to keep your rabbit warm, cozy, and dry during the cold of the winter.

Featured Image Credit: hacksss, Shutterstock

Related Articles

Further Reading

Vet Articles

Latest Vet Answers

The latest veterinarians' answers to questions from our database