Can You Let Your Rabbit Out in the Rain?

Torrential downpours. Light drizzles. Showers that seem to appear from nowhere. As a rabbit owner, wet weather can be your worst enemy if you’re not prepared. When those dark clouds roll in, is it safe to let your rabbit stay outside or will they end up in dire straits? Getting drenched in the rain can quickly become deadly for rabbits. In this comprehensive guide, we’ll cover everything you need to know about rabbits and rain. From how rabbits survive in the wild wetlands to what to do if your pet gets stuck in a storm, you’ll learn the exact reasons why rabbits and water don’t mix and how to keep your bunny safe. Don’t get caught unprepared in the next downpour!

Can Rabbits Get Wet in the Rain?

Yes, rabbits can absolutely get wet if they are outside in the rain. Rabbits have fur coats that help repel some moisture, but their fur can only provide so much protection from getting soaked in a downpour. Prolonged wetness can be very dangerous for rabbits.

A rabbit's fur coat consists of two layers – a dense, soft undercoat and a coarser topcoat made up of longer guard hairs. The undercoat helps insulate the rabbit's body and keep it warm, while the guard hairs protect the undercoat and skin from getting wet. But when it rains heavily for an extended period, both layers will eventually become saturated with water.

When a rabbit gets wet to the skin, it is at risk of rapid heat loss. Just like humans, rabbits are warm-blooded mammals and rely on their ability to maintain a consistent internal body temperature. Wet fur eliminates the insulating properties of their coat, allowing heat to quickly escape their body. Hypothermia can set in rapidly under these conditions.

In addition to heat loss, prolonged exposure to moisture can create other health issues for rabbits. Sitting in wet conditions can cause the skin to become irritated and inflamed. Bacterial and fungal infections on the skin are more likely to occur. Respiratory infections are also a possibility if the rabbit inhales too much cool, damp air into its lungs.

Rabbits spend a great deal of time grooming and maintaining their fur coats. When the fur becomes matted from rain, it makes it very difficult for the rabbit to stay clean and dry itself effectively by self-grooming. This compounds the other risks of being wet.

So while a rabbit's fur does provide some natural water resistance, it is not 100% waterproof. Rabbit fur can and will get soaked all the way through when subjected to heavy rain or wet conditions for too long. Getting drenched outdoors can be very dangerous for a rabbit, so it is best to limit their exposure to rain. Short periods of light rain may be tolerable, but extending a rabbit's time in the rain significantly escalates the health risks.

How Rabbits Survive in The Rain

In the wild, rabbits have adapted some behaviors and strategies to help them cope with rain and wet weather. However, their tolerance is still limited. Some of the ways wild rabbits survive in the rain include:

  • Seeking shelter – Rabbits will retreat to burrows, tunnels, and other covered dens to escape rain and stay dry. Their natural habitats provide many options for shelter.

  • Using dense vegetation – Areas with thick bushes, tall grass and dense brush allow rabbits to hunker down under vegetation to avoid some precipitation.

  • Relying on fur – The insulating topcoat and undercoat do repel some moisture and keeps skin dry in light rain. Rabbits regularly groom themselves as it rains to maximize this protection.

  • Building rain-proof nests – Rabbits dig burrows and nests that have protective top layers made of grass, leaves, fur, etc. This helps shield babies and adults from getting soaked.

  • Limiting activity – Rabbits tend to be less active in heavy rain. They conserve energy and make quick, short movements between shelter spots. Less exposure out in the open.

  • Shaking off – Rabbits are often seen shaking themselves vigorously when wet. This helps displace some water from their fur.

  • Grooming – As mentioned, licking and grooming fur helps redistribute oils and water resistance to maintain some dryness.

  • Temperature regulation – Rabbits can alter blood flow to skin areas to prevent excessive heat loss if their coat does get wet. Their circulatory system helps prevent hypothermia.

  • Breeding cycles – In the wild, rabbits limit breeding during rainy periods to reduce risk to vulnerable newborn kits.

While these behaviors allow wild rabbits to cope with some rain, extended heavy downpours, storms, and flooding will overwhelm their capacities and put them at risk. Truly wet weather-proof rabbits do not really exist. Domestic rabbits are even more vulnerable lacking natural shelter and adaptations.

Why Rabbits Shouldn’t Get Wet

There are several key reasons why pet rabbits should be kept dry in wet weather and not be allowed to get soaked:

  • Hypothermia risk – A wet rabbit loses the insulating properties of its fur, allowing its body heat to drop rapidly. This makes hypothermia a major risk.

  • Skin irritation – Wet fur traps moisture against the skin for extended periods. This can cause abrasions, rashes, and skin infections. The skin may crack and become inflamed.

  • Fur matting – Fur that gets soaked takes a long time to fully dry out. The undercoat becomes compacted and difficult to groom. Matted fur doesn't insulate properly.

  • Respiratory infections – Inhaling cool, damp air can irritate lungs. Prolonged exposure leads to increased risk of pneumonia and other illnesses.

  • Parasites – Wet conditions allow parasites like fleas, lice and mites to multiply more quickly in a rabbit's coat. This causes discomfort, itching, infections.

  • Bacterial growth – A persistently wet coat encourages bacterial growth. This allows illnesses like pasteurellosis to take hold.

  • Urinary tract infections – When the skin gets wet for extended periods, the moisture wicks inward raising UTI risk. Rabbits are prone to UTIs already.

  • Joint pain – Exposure to cold, wetness may aggravate arthritis and cause joint stiffness if a rabbit has pre-existing issues.

  • Stress – The discomfort and health risks associated with wetness causes psychological stress. A stressed rabbit is more vulnerable to other problems.

  • Flystrike – Wet fur near the rear attracts flies to lay eggs. Maggots can develop and cause deadly fleece rot / flystrike.

Rabbit owners need to monitor weather forecasts closely. Bring pet rabbits inside well in advance of rainstorms or wet conditions. Never leave them outdoors unsupervised in rain. Indoor housing is ideal for pet rabbits overall.

What To Do if Your Rabbit is Out in The Rain

If your pet rabbit accidentally gets stuck outside in the rain, it's important to act quickly but calmly:

  • Bring it indoors ASAP – Get it back inside and out of the rain right away before its coat is 100% soaked. Handle it gently.

  • Provide gentle warmth – Warm it with a towel from the dryer or other indirect, gentle heating source. Avoid hairdryers.

  • Dry thoroughly – Use clean towels to gently blot and absorb as much moisture as possible. Be careful about overheating from friction.

  • Check body temperature – Monitor for hypothermia symptoms like low energy, shivering, cold ears. Get emergency vet help if needed.

  • Limit drafts – Keep it away from drafts, air vents, fans until fully dry and warmed up.

  • Dry hair with cool setting – Use a blow dryer on a cool, low setting if needed in small sections. Never use heat.

  • Groom carefully – Gently brush and comb to loosen matted fur. Don't pull on any knots.

  • Treat skin irritation – Clean and treat any sores or abrasions. See a vet for antibiotics if needed.

  • Offer warm fluids – Provide warm (not hot) water in a bowl to avoid dehydration.

  • Monitor for issues – Watch for signs of respiratory infection or other illness over the next few days.

  • Adjust environment – Keep housing extra clean, dry and cozy while its coat fully dries out.

With quick action, minor wetting may not cause lasting harm. But prolonged rain exposure exacerbates all risks, so bring outdoor rabbits in immediately in rainy weather. Preventive measures are key to keeping pet rabbits healthy in wet conditions.


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