Some endotherms (warm-blooded animals) at times hibernate or go to a state of inactivity and metabolic depression. Metabolic depression is an energy reservation mechanism that results in hibernation, inactivity (torpor) and dormancy (estivation).
Therefore, “hibernation refers to a season of heterothermy characterized by low body temperature, slow breathing and heart rate, and low metabolic rate.”
When heterothermy occurs, warm-blooded animals change between controlling their body temperature to letting it be affected by the surround environmental temperature.
Whereas some animals are obligate hibernators and they do so whether they have food or not including rodents such the mouse lemurs, monotremes, marsupials, European hedgehogs and so on.
Other animals are facultative hibernators that hibernate when they have no food, its cold or both including the prairie dog, white and black-tailed prairie dogs. What about hares and rabbits? Do they migrate or hibernate when the environmental conditions are not conducive such during winter?
Do rabbits hibernate during winter
As already noted, some rodents hibernate. However, rabbits are not rodents. They are lagomorphs together with hares and pikas. Therefore, if you are wondering whether pet rabbits hibernate or wild ones, the answer is NO. They do not hibernate (both domestic and wild ones). They remain active throughout the year.
Also, “jackrabbits do not migrate or hibernate during winter; the same habitat is used year-round.”  However, they can travel as far as 2 to 10 miles looking for where to forage. During the night, they can forage on open areas but during the day, they forage in areas covered with shrubs to avoid preys.
Similarly, cottontails do not migrate or hibernate. They will be active during dawns and dusks but remain hidden during the remainder of the time. During winter they will forage “out over the surface of the snow cover and consumes dominantly woody plant parts including the twigs, bark, fruits, seeds, and buds of oak, dogwood, sumac, maple, and birch.” 
It should be clear that rabbits do not hibernate. This is the same case to hares even during winter or when temperatures are unfavorable. What do they then do during winter when it is all snowy?
What do rabbits do in the winter?
During winter, most of the vegetables which wild rabbits forage get covered by snow. Therefore, these animals will “survive by foraging for food under the snow” . Also, they will eat more of the conifer needles, twigs, tree buds, as well as tree bark.
Since they are covered with fur, they can tolerate freezing temperatures without becoming less active. However, their food requirements are higher.
Therefore, when weather is cold and unpleasant, they will not migrate but shelter in cavities that could be either man-made or natural ones including culverts or under thickets. Existing rabbit warrens will also form a good sheltering place.
Domestic rabbits during winter
Pet rabbits do not hibernate even during winter, just like the wild ones and hares. Therefore, you need to ensure you provide them with a conducive environment. Despite their ability to tolerate even freezing temperatures, draughts and wetness might affect them.
You can resolve the winter problem by
- Buying hutch covers such as BUNNY BUSINESS Hutch Cover for Grove, Trixie Natura Hutch Covers, Scratch and Newton’s hutch hugger, RabbitShack Hutch Cover among others. They will help stop rain and wind.
- Using heated rabbit hutch lamps and pads including Snugglesafe Microwave Wireless Heatpad With Fleece Cover, K&H Pet Products K&H Small Animal, Premier Heat Lamp for Brooders, Blue Spotted Ceramic Infrared as well as Ceramic Infrared.
- Build an insulated hutch or move your hutches to a warmer place including into your house or garage.
- Provide warm bedding to keep your pet warm and avoid the cold floors. A generous layer of straws will work well.
- Provide them with extra food since they will use more energy to try to keep themselves warm during winter.
- Also, ensure their drinking water is not frozen by going for heated water bottles and bowls such as Farm Innovators Model HRB-20 Heated Water Bottle for Rabbits or Allied Precision, K&H Thermal Heated Dog Bowl., Heated (API) Bottle, and so on.
- Finally, encourage them to exercise to keep fit and reduce boredom. Provide them with play or exercise toys since cold weather encourages their playful nature. Toys such as Rosewood Pet Bunny Fun Tree, Original and X-large Activity Zone, Maze Haven, Smartkitz Large Cardboard Pet Castle will work well.
Do rabbits migrate
Wild bunnies do not migrate during certain seasons. They stay put in their warrens unless made to do so due to human activities. Even during winter, they do not migrate.
We hope various questions such as do wild rabbits hibernate during winter including snowshoe hares and arctic hares or how do rabbits hibernate have been answered. Buns do not hibernate.
Now that you know they don’t, if you have them as pets, protect them from rain, wetness, and wind. Keep them warm and provide them with enough food. Ensure their water does not freeze.
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