Do Baby Rabbits Need a Heat Lamp?
Deep in the wildness, rabbits hide in tunnels and dens to evade cold temperatures. Since it is impossible to burrow hiding spots in the hunches, most pet owners struggle to keep their newly born pets warm. It is common to find individuals using heat lamps or heat pads in the cages out of frustration. Unfortunately, this option causes more trouble than merit.
Remember that mother rabbits instinctively prepare during the pregnancy period to welcome their babies in a warm environment. Therefore, an external source of heat would not add much value to your little friends. Unlike other animals, rabbits make warm shelters and nests using fur or hay as insulation from the cold.
Here is an imperative guide on why heat lamps are not a necessity in the hunches in line with proper rabbit nurturing requirements.
Dangers of Using Heat Lamps
While a heat lamp seems like the quickest way to keep your baby rabbits warm, note that there is a whole load of perils attached to it.
- Heat lamps have a high potential of overheating the enclosure
- Rabbits prefer a cold environment and are susceptible to excess heat
- Excess hair and heat make rabbits prone to hyperthermia, a life-threatening condition
- Rabbits love chewing on cables and can get electrocuted if they come into contact with them
- Hay nests can easily catch fire if a heat lamp is placed close to them
- Heat lamps in rabbit enclosures are a real menace to both adult and baby rabbits.
First, heat lamps have a high potential of overheating the enclosure. In reality, rabbits are susceptible to excess heat and prefer a cold environment. Similar to pigs and other animals, rabbits do not have sweat glands. Therefore it becomes quite a challenge to control their body temperatures with a heat lamp in the vicinity.
Furthermore, a rabbit’s fur grows excessively thick before the cold season kicks in. As a result, the combination of excess hair and heat makes your mischievous friend prone to hyperthermia. This life-threatening condition causes kidney, respiratory, heart, nervous, and digestive tract complications when the temperature exceeds 40 degrees.
Moreover, rabbits love chewing on any cables they come across. Although some manufacturers claim to make secure cords, the stakes are high and your bunny can get electrocuted if they come into contact with them.
Likewise, hay nests can easily catch fire if you place a heat lamp close to them. Altogether, heat lamps in the hunches are a real menace both to adult and baby rabbits.
How Baby Rabbits Stay Warm?
Although mama bunny would do anything to keep her babies warm, the first week is critical because they have minimal fur. Fortunately, by day 12, baby rabbits develop a thick coat of hair that enables them to evade most freezing problems.
Once born, baby rabbits manage to maintain optimal body temperatures by hanging on their mother’s fur and clinging on their siblings deep hidden in the nests. If possible, avoid interfering with this adaptation unless you notice the mother or babies struggling in the cold.
One quick way to tell that your rabbits are freezing is to touch their ears and paws. If they are overly cold or hot, that’s an instant sign of fever and other cold-related complications.
How Rabbits Build Their Nest?
Generally, a rabbit’s gestation period lasts about 31 to 33 days. Mostly, the nesting process happens one week before delivery. Here, mother rabbits dig a hole four inches deep and five inches wide. A few days later, pregnant mothers start pulling out their hair in anticipation of the new babies. Finally, they fill up the nest with bits of fur, hay, and leaves.
There are plenty of misconceptions about whether mother rabbits abandon a nest if someone disturbs it. Although it rarely happens, rabbits fail to return to the initial nest if they sense incoming danger to their unborn babies. However, it takes several interruptions by the pet owner to instigate that action.
Keeping Baby Rabbits Warm without Their Mother
In a few incidents, rabbits give birth out of the nest, or unfortunately, the baby may slide out. Dissimilar to dogs and cats, rabbits do not transport or repossess their babies. Therefore without the pet owner’s intervention, they may slowly die of the cold.
Before taking any action, check on the condition of the newly born kit. Does it feels warm or struggle to move about, or is lying motionless and cold? If the baby still depicts a sign of life, place it immediately against your skin. Impressively, this helps the baby to warm up instantaneously.
Another essential technique is to wrap them up with warm towels. You can place clean towels under a dryer and simultaneously alternate them till the kit feels warm or turn pink in color. If this fails to work, set the unfortunate creature in warm water through a storage bag.
The thumb rule is to avoid making the kit wet but allow heat to transfer from the warm water. Before placing the baby back in the nest, ensure that the kit is fully warmed up. Note that if it is too cold other babies may wriggle, leaving it freezing again.
When Can Baby Rabbits Keep Themselves Warm?
With baby rabbits born furless, they are helpless and cannot survive on their own. Naturally, kits snuggle on each other to keep warm. Weeks down the line, the habit minimizes after the first stray of hair makes them warmer.
Mainly, it takes seven to twelve weeks for a fine pelt of coat to grow on baby rabbits. Later at about 3-12 months, kits lose the soft baby fur and replace it with a sleeker warmer version.
All in all, it is vital to avoid separating or removing baby rabbits from the nest during the first eight weeks. Not only does it keep them warm, but it also enables them to enhance their immunity to their mother’s milk.
Will Baby Rabbits Die of Cold?
Based on their delicate nature at birth, kits can die within minutes if exposed to frigid temperatures. On harsh cold days, you can relocate the hutch indoors or enclose them in n the nesting area throughout. Importantly, schedule the birthing process during warm months to prevent unavoidable winter deaths.
Rabbit’s ability to keep their babies warm is undeniably unique and impressive. In typical instances, doe keeps the nest at an average temperature of 60 to 75 degrees.
Given that healthy kits need to thrive in an environment of about 100 degrees, it is vital to follow the tips mentioned above to keep your tiny pets hale and hearty.