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Where Do Rabbits Go in the Winter?

If you’ve ever seen a rabbit in the wild and wondered, “I wonder where rabbits go in the winter?” we’ve got some answers.

Even if you don’t see any rabbits during the winter, that doesn’t mean they don’t exist. They just have a lot of clever ways of staying warm and safe from predators when it gets cold outside.

In this article, let’s take a look at how these furry animals live through the winter months.

Where do rabbits go in the winter?

Winter is a difficult season for most animals, but rabbits are one of the few that can thrive. Rabbits grow their thick fur and hide in burrows to fight the cold of winter. They also consume a lot of food because they store it as fat to keep warm in the wintertime.

Key Takeaways:

  • Rabbits are among the animals that are active all year, including during the winter.
  • These creatures don’t migrate or hibernate.
  • During the winter, they change their diet, and many even feed on their own droppings.

Do rabbits migrate?

Snowshoe hare in snow
Snowshoe hare in snow | image by Dave Doe via Flickr | CC BY 2.0

Migration is a seasonal movement of animals in search of food, water, or shelter. The term migration is often used to describe the entire annual cycle of an animal’s life, including where they live and what they eat. Rabbits, on the other hand, don’t migrate—they stay in their area throughout the year, even through winter.

Do rabbits hibernate?

Marsh Rabbit
Marsh Rabbit | image by Everglades National Park via Flickr

Hibernation is a state of inactivity in which animals reduce their metabolism to conserve energy during periods of extreme cold. It’s a survival strategy that allows them to survive harsh winters without dying from exposure—something rabbits don’t have to do because they can hide or find new food sources when things get tough.

Instead of hibernating, rabbits will frequently change their lifestyles during the winter to help them survive the cold: they’ll eat more grass and hay in the fall to prepare their bodies; they’ll also spend more time in burrows or dens, where these creatures can keep warm and avoid predators outside.

Preparation for winter

Rabbits can prepare for winter in a number of ways, including eating more than usual during the fall and ceasing to shed their fur.

Eating more

Rabbit eating grass
Rabbit eating grass | image by Rodel Bontes via Flickr | CC BY 2.0

Rabbits eat more than usual in the fall because their bodies need to store enough fat to last through the winter. Rabbits won’t be able to find as many food sources as they would in warmer weather, so these rodents must ensure that they’ve enough stored energy in their bodies to avoid starvation. The stored fat in their bodies also keeps them warm during the winter.

Stops shedding their fur

Rabbits are born with the ability to survive the winter. They have thick fur that keeps them warm, and rabbits stop shedding their fur before winter to keep it thick and warm. Due to less exposure to the sun, their coats also change to a lighter shade, which helps them blend in with the environment.

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Where do rabbits hide during winter?

Rabbit in a burrow
Rabbit in a burrow

Rabbits spend the winter hiding in burrows. A burrow is a hole that rabbits dig in the ground to live and protect themselves from predators and extreme weather.

Burrows are typically 2.5 feet long and made up of several complex chambers. Unlike other rodents, such as squirrels, these creatures don’t store food in their burrows. Instead, they actively seek food outside of their underground homes, which is why you can see rabbits hopping around even in the winter.

Diet in winter

Rabbits are herbivores, meaning they eat plants. They eat mostly grasses and hay, but they‘ll also eat vegetables from their natural environment.

Since there are fewer food sources available to rabbits during the winter, their diet changes. Rabbits will eat any available plant matter at this time of year, including tree buds, twigs, and bark. These creatures may also eat their own droppings as a way of getting more nutrients from their food.

Temperature for rabbits

Rabbits are warm-blooded, meaning they can generate their own body heat. Although their ideal temperature is around 10-20°C (50-68°F), they can tolerate temperatures lower than that. These creatures can withstand temperatures below 0°C, making them one of the few animals that can survive the winter without migrating or hibernating.

How to help pet rabbits during winter?

If you have a pet rabbit, you should be aware of the following considerations in order to help your furry little friend survive the cold winter:

Vulnerable rabbits should be kept indoors

Woman and her pet rabbit
Woman and her pet rabbit

It’s best to keep your rabbit indoors if it’s too old, too young, or doesn’t have a thick coat. These kinds of rabbits are extremely sensitive to cold temperatures. They may become ill or die from exposure if they’re exposed to the elements for an extended period of time without a burrow or shelter.

Always maintain dry conditions for outdoor rabbits

If you have a healthy pet rabbit, you can keep them outside. However, to keep your pet happy and healthy, make sure their hutch is 100% waterproof, free of water stains, and well-insulated.

Keep their hutch clean

Rabbits in hutch
Rabbits in hutch

One of the most important things you can do to keep your rabbits healthy is to keep their hutch clean. Replace wet bedding with new bedding materials that’ll help your rabbit stay warm. It’s especially important to keep their hutch clean and dry in the winter, as cold and damp conditions can cause pneumonia and arthritis.

Final Thoughts

It may be surprising to see rabbits in the winter, but these creatures have a variety of adaptations to help them survive in the cold environment. They will, however, spend the majority of their time hidden in their burrows to keep their body temperature warm and avoid freezing to death.