At last after an incredibly lengthy hot summer, we are starting to experience cooler Fall temperatures here in the North Carolina Piedmont, and our rabbits are feeling friskier during the morning and evening family playtimes! But this also means that in our older home which has plaster walls nighttime temperatures can drop drastically and leave cold spots at the ground level beneath their hutches or our furniture, which is where our indoor bunnies prefer to nap and sleep, as it feels more like a burrow. One way that we strive to ensure their comfort and warmth is to cover the places where they play and lounge with easy to clean area rugs and plush non-pilling fleece fabrics in the form of soft store-bought baby blankets or large cut pieces from fabric bolts
Velluto snuggling in his polka-dot baby blanket!
Neither of our boys are huge chewers so we feel that these fleece blankets are safe options for them for relaxation. The blankets help to retain each rabbit’s natural heat and provide a sense of snuggling up to another bunny, which bonded rabbits naturally tend to do with each other. They also love to dig and smooth out the fabrics, a rabbit habit called “bunching”. Because our bunnies are always moving their blankets about, we inspect each blanket prior to washing to make sure there are not any frayed threads or fibers that a bunny could accidentally ingest and cause choking or a dangerous intestinal blockage. We also look for any small holes that could grow larger and potentially become a snare for a leg or paw, which could cause the bunny to panic and lead to a serious injury. Remember that for safe laundering, no fragrances, harsh chemicals, or dryer sheets should ever be used. Note: Although fleece is one of the fabrics least nibbled upon by most bunnies, the very fluffiness does sometimes make it difficult to remove all the bits of hay. I find that keeping a stiff-bristled hairbrush on hand dedicated for this task helps to remove most of the hay bits prior to washing, and if not, the fleece is usually on sale often enough at the fabric store to replace it.
Prince Oreo Pants resting his head upon the faux fur Christmas tree skirt!
We also like to provide our rabbits with smaller hand-sewn thick soft flannel blankets to fold and place inside their hutches, which they use as “lounging lofts”. These serve both as lightweight blankies that they can safely nestle into or under without risk of suffocation as well as a cushioned barrier for the grid wire bottom to prevent their feet from getting sore hocks. When the bunnies are playing with us in our family room, we sometimes give them faux fur or faux sheepskin thicker throw blankets to dig at and burrow beneath, but always with supervision, since we would never want either rabbit to become stuck beneath it and panic because he cannot find his way out. This stressful situation could cause the same sort of panic as being trapped by a predator, so make sure you are nearby to lend a hand if your rabbit likes this fun activity. The size of the blanket should be considered – a king-sized blanket or very heavy coverlet would be too risky to use for this play activity – a smaller baby blanket or lightweight sofa throw is much safer and more fun for your rabbit.
It is important to select better quality fabrics which will be safer, last longer, and be less likely to cause any of the above issues. Yes, it does cost more to provide better quality materials, but a responsible pet caretaker will want his or her bunny to get plenty of comfortable, safe, and restorative sleep to ensure that animal’s optimal health and well-being. Weigh your bunny’s comfort options with his or her destructive instincts to select the proper materials that best suit that rabbit’s needs. It requires constant monitoring and vigilance to ensure that your pet’s living environment is the healthiest it can be.
Take the extra effort to fully pamper your precious pet and you may even be rewarded with an adorable flop! For the non-chewing rabbit, adding a safe stuffed bunny toy can help to alleviate loneliness by providing comfort and someone else to snuggle with when you are not at home. Be sure to have your camera ready to capture some of the most endearing images of your adorable and special furry pal!
Below are some websites for you to visit for creative bedding and blanket ideas:
This November, SomeBunny is making flannel and fleece blankets to donate to Binky On! Rabbit Rescue, www.BinkyOnRabbitRescue.com, and our two beloved bunnies encourage you to share a little warmth by donating safe handmade, new or gently used blankets to an animal shelter near you!