Do Rabbits Hibernate In The Winter? (Explained)

Do you know where do the wild rabbits disappear during the winter months? Many of us don’t have the exact idea about wild rabbits. However, in this article, I will discuss the rabbit and hibernation. So. do rabbits hibernate?

No, unlike some mammals, rabbits don’t hibernate or migrate during the cold winters. They stay in the same place and seek food like the other seasons. They go far away to seek food during the heavy snow. Because they are dependent on the green plants and surface-level plants.

What Is Hibernation?

Hibernation is a complex process for animals to conserve their energy during adverse weather conditions. Hibernation and winter are very closely related. Simply, hibernation is a physiological state of the animals to survive in adverse conditions when food is not available.

During the cold winter, when snow covers everything, most of the animals suffer from food. That is why hibernation is important for wild animals.

Do Rabbits Hibernate In The Winter

What is The Purpose of Hibernation?

The main purpose of hibernation is to survive actually. When foods are not available and snow is everywhere, literally the wild animals are helpless.

Hibernation slows down the metabolism rate and other chemical formation to store the fat substance in their body for more time to use the inner energy.

Do Rabbits Hibernate?

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No, rabbits don’t hibernate even in the freezing temperature. They have to find out food to save themselves. But unfortunately, most of the rabbits can not survive in the winter because of the scarcity of food.

Rabbits eat grass and surface-level plants during the snow season. But most of the rabbits are not fortunate enough to get available food during the harsh winter.

Do Rabbits Migrate?

No rabbits don’t migrate from one place to another place during the winter. They remain in their den and looking for food. Sometimes, they may go away from their habitat in search of food. Probably you may see them in your backyard or garden.

Basically, migration means switch to another place completely. Some animals migrate for food and other natural and artificial reason. But rabbits don’t migrate for food, weather, habitat, and other reasons. They prefer their habitat where they grew up.

So, Which Animals Hibernate in winter?

Now you might be interested to know the hibernating animals. Well, there is a lot of species that are hibernating in the winter. Bears, Chipmunks, Box Turtles, hedgehogs, and land snails are the perfect example.

These animals are inactive during the winter. When the temperature falls, their metabolism rate becomes low and they hibernate in a safe place. Rabbits are totally different from them indeed.

Related: Looking for the best hay for your bunny? Read this in-depth article.

Where Do Rabbits Shelter in Cold months?

Food is one of the most important concerns for rabbits all over the year. Because rabbits literally eat a lot. They love to eat all day long.

Anyway, in the cold months, apart from food, the predator is another challenge for the rabbits. When snow covers everything, rabbits are opened to predators. So, security is a big concern for the rabbits in the winter. That is why rabbits usually stay in their territory.

do rabbit migrate

Where Do Rabbits Go in The Winter?

Usually, rabbits seldom come outside during the winter. They stay in their home. They can survive a few days without food in the winter because of the presence of their fat layer.

In winter, their thick coat of fur keeps them warm. Most importantly, they stay close in their territory. That is why they can survive.

Sometimes, when it is a prolonged snowfall or harsh winter, they come out in search of food. In this time, they explore every corner for food.

How Do Rabbits Survive in The Winter?

Survival is really tough for the rabbits in the cold weather. Normally, the life span of the rabbit is 5-10 years. but in the wild, very few rabbits can survive more than a year.

You know, a rabbit is a prey animal. So, the predator is the main concern for the rabbits always. Additionally, rabbits don’t get enough food in cold weather. More than 60% of rabbits die in the cold months due to predators and scarcity of food. Sad but this is true. Probably the rate is way higher than 60%.

Now you may think then the rabbit will be vanished from nature. Actually, rabbits are very fertile. They have a powerful breeding chain. That is why they can survive in nature.

Here is a possible way to survive rabbits in the cold months.

Do you have rabbits and keep them in an outdoor hutch? read this article to learn how to keep the rabbit warm in the winter in an outdoor hutch here.

Stay in the Burrows

Usually, rabbits stay in their burrows. Because burrows keep them warm and save them from predators.

Reduce the Movement

Usually, rabbits don’t go out frequently in the cold months. They conserve their energy and keep themselves warm and healthy.

Change the Diet

Rabbit loves fresh vegetables and fruits. But in the winter they switch their food habit quickly. They start to eat various wood-based food like the bark of the tree and others. They eat the available food but rabbit don’t hibernate.

Seek for Food

Although rabbits don’t migrate they still seek food. At this time, they attack their nearest vegetable garden. Actually, they are helpless which is why they are looking for an easy source of food.

do rabbit really migrate in the winter

How Do Wild Rabbits Keep Warm in The Winter?

Wild rabbit stays together in their burrows. Rabbits are very conscious about their territory. In winter, they stay close. Their burrow is airproof. Moreover, they usually don’t come out from their burrow. Ultimately, they remain warm in the winter in their territory.

Anyway, these are the main ways for rabbits to keep them warm.

Underground burrows

Underground burrows not only save them from predators but also keep them warm and cozy in the winter. Moreover, they build their burrows uniquely. And the burrows don’t get hot in the summer. Underground burrows are comfortable for the rabbits all around the year.

Thick Fur

During the winter, thick fur grows. This is the real blessing for the rabbit in the winter. Thick-coated fur keeps them warm and cozy even in the frozen temperature.

Store straw in their burrow

Straw is a good insulator indeed. Rabbits store as much as possible straw in their burrows to keep their burrows warm and cozy. Moreover, straw is the idle food for the rabbit.

Adipose tissue

White adipose tissue and brown adipose tissue are very important for the rabbit in the winter. When Brown adipose tissue fat burns, it produces heat. Ultimately, it keeps the rabbit warm. Heat producing in the rabbit body is called thermogenesis.

How Cold Can Rabbits Tolerate?

Although rabbits are small and cute, they can surprisingly tolerate up to 40 degrees Fahrenheit. Less than 40 degrees Fahrenheit is too cold for the rabbits. Rabbits can survive in the minus temperature, but they need insulated and protected habitat.

What Makes Winter Difficult for Rabbits?

Food is the main problem for the wild rabbit. Rabbits eat continuously and they need a lot of food indeed. in wild, wild rabbits mainly eat fruits, vegetables, and grass. But they don’t store it in their territory. Ultimately, they are in difficulties in the winter.

Another option is the lack of a hiding place. you know rabbits are prey animals. During the snowfall, everything is coved by snow. So rabbits are open to predators.

Apart from the shelter and food, winter itself is one of the big challenges for the rabbits.

Can I Feed the Wild Rabbits in The Winter?

Yes, you could feed the wild rabbits in the winter. But you have to maintain some precondition. Because wild rabbits can be a vector of diseases. Moreover, they are frightened. So, they can run away when they see you.

You can read this article to learn how to and what to feed the wild rabbits in the winter.

How to Care for A Domestic Rabbit in The Winter?

Let’s talk about the domestic rabbit now. it is very important indeed to take extra care of the domestic animal.

You have to ready their hutch for the winter. Moreover, food is very important. they need more nutritious food so that they could produce more heat.

If you are living in a cold region you could use, heated water bottle to keep the water warm even in the minus temperature.

Additionally, you could use, heated lamp in the hutch to keep the hutch warm and cozy in the winter.

Final Thoughts

So, whether it is a wild rabbit or a domestic rabbit, no rabbits hibernate in the winter. They are prey and fragile animal. So, they need special care in the winter.

I hope you have understood all about rabbit hibernation. Thanks for reading and don’t forget to share.

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Alex is a full-time rabbit lover and part-time Biologist. He is a proud parent of two rabbits. It's his childhood dream to rescue endangered animals and make the world better for living.

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