Do rabbits hibernate?
May 10, 2021
Did you notice many rabbits visiting your yard or porch during winter?
If that’s not the case, then where do all the rabbits go during winter?
Do rabbits hibernate?
By the time you finish reading this post, you will know what happens to rabbits during winter.
Rabbits go through their life as usual as many animals do. Like all other animals in the wild, rabbits struggle through the winter. However, that’s how nature works.
Let’s get into more details about rabbits’ survival instincts during winter and in freezing temperatures.
- How do wild rabbits keep warm without hibernating in winter?
- What do wild rabbits eat in winter?
- Where do these rabbits stay in winter?
- Why do I see many rabbits in my yard or garden in winter?
- What can you do to help these cute fluffy animals?
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Do rabbits hibernate?
The answer is NO. Rabbits are not one of those animals that can sleep throughout the winter. Animals that hibernate during winter can slow down their digestion process of the food they consumed.
Hence, the body slowly digests the food while the animals are hibernating. Unlike in rabbits, the digestion process is quick.
A rabbit cannot hibernate throughout the winter and expect to rely on the food they ate before a month.
Rabbits are delicate and small animals, and hibernating throughout the winter is not an option for them.
Instead, they need to live their life as usual all around the year, regardless of the season.
How do wild rabbits keep warm without hibernating in winter?
Many animals keep warm in winter by hibernating. Hibernating is staying put in place for a long time. Hibernating animals will not go out to look for food or prey. Their slow digestive system helps them with the process.
Fortunately, wild rabbits grow a thick fur coat during the winter season. Primarily this thick fur coat prevents rabbits from hypothermia.
The thick fur is not always enough to keep rabbits safe in freezing temperatures.
Rabbits also use their body fat to insulate their body temperature. Under their skin, they have fat that helps them to keep their body warm.
Seeing wild rabbits in winter, people think it is difficult for them.
True, it’s difficult to survive in freezing conditions.
That applies to all the wild animals during winter when food is scarce.
But I want to mention that rabbits have a thick fur coat and body fat that helps with body temperature insulation. Hence rabbits naturally have all that they require to live in cold weather.
With the thick fur coat, rabbits can get heatstroke during the summer season.
However, if the winter is too harsh, then the rabbit will get hypothermia.
Hypothermia is a condition when the body temperature gets extremely low, and at that point, a wild rabbit may not be able to regulate the body temperature back to normal.
Where do rabbits stay in winter?
There is a reason why you see rabbits on your porch or your garage during the winter season.
It’s common to see rabbits sitting close to each other in your garage. They stay close to each other to share the body’s warmth.
Your garage or abandoned houses can prevent rabbits from the chilling wind outside.
Mostly cottontail rabbits prefer to look for shelters.
However, most other breeds of rabbits would dig in burrows or find logs where they can sleep. Rabbits are prey animals, and they naturally have good survival instincts. They are intelligent animals to figure out things for themselves to live long enough.
Yet rabbits in the wild can live up to only two years, unlike domestic rabbits, can live up to 12 years.
What do they eat in winter?
Rabbits are herbivores, and their staple is hay or grass. Hay and silage are rich in fibers that help them with their digestive system.
During winter, snow covers most of the ground, and rabbits need to find alternative fiber-rich resources.
In cold weather, rabbits rely on dry barks or twigs. Anything rich in fiber and not covered in snow helps rabbit to sustain throughout the winter.
Likewise, any vegetation that is dry due to the cold season is suitable for rabbits.
Rabbits don’t hibernate, and they continuously have to find food yet scarcity.
Rabbits also eat their poop to absorb the most nutrition from their diet.
Rabbits’ delicate digestive system cannot absorb all the nutrition from the food at first. So, the rabbits eat their poop to pass it through their digestive system to get the most nutrition out of their food.
Why do you see rabbits in your yard in winter?
It’s normal for wild animals to flock where they have food available.
During winter, food is scarce in the wild. Wild rabbits looking for food may end up in your yard near your garden.
Many people complain that rabbits destroyed the garden at night. As rabbits are active during dawn and dusk only, it’s likely the rabbits destroyed your garden at the beginning of the day.
Flowers and fresh green leaves are attractive meals for rabbits in winter.
If they can’t find food in the wild, wild rabbits will get close to your garden where the food is available.
Rabbits are cute but can be destructive. When the conditions are harsh in the wild during winter, the wild rabbits may pick your home as their home too.
There are several other reasons for rabbits to come to your home during winter.
In the wild, when snow covers everything, rabbits have a hard time hiding from predators. Being prey animals, rabbits need to find a safe place to survive. If they think the small bush and plants in your garden are a safe place to hide from wild predators, they will stay in your garden for a while.
But that doesn’t mean these wild rabbits are entirely safe in your garden. These wild rabbits in your garden will also attract predators eventually.
Winter is difficult for all wild animals. But all animals have their way to survive in winter.
Some survive by hibernating, but rabbits are not one of them. Rabbits need to live their regular life during winter regardless of the scarcity of food. That’s also a reason why there is a decline in the rabbit population every winter.