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The South Australian Rabbit Fanciers Society Incorporated

Summer heat and your rabbit

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Summer heat and your rabbit
Show Results 2012

SUMMER HEAT AND STRESS IN YOUR RABBIT

A collation of articles and prevention ideas for summer heat

REMEMBER:

Your rabbit is wearing a fur coat, and is totally reliant upon you, it’s owner, for it’s care. Would you leave a child outside in the heat to suffer? You would be prosecuted for doing so!

Your rabbit is a small furred animal, prone to heat stress and ultimately death in prolonged high temperatures. While you are comfortably watching TV, browsing the net or enjoying summer, is your rabbit being cared for as it is entitled to be, as a living thing?

FACTS:

* A temperature of 21C is considered a comfort zone for rabbits. Above or below this requires use of energy to heat or cool themselves.

* At 30C your rabbit is uncomfortable, attempting to stretch out and regulate it’s temperature.

* At 35C your rabbit can no longer regulate it’s internal temperature, and at this stage it may ultimately lead to death.

Causes of Heat Stress (Heat Stroke):

* Environmental temperatures above 35C, high humidity

* Inadequate shade and ventilation.

* Over crowding – excessive bodies equate to extra heat being given off.

* Excessive weight or pregnancy.

* Direct sunlight at any time of the year may also result in heat stress and death.

* Dehydration – failure to provide fresh clean water at all times.

Signs of heat stroke include:

* Panting, dribbling/salivation, ear reddening, limp, unresponsive, refusal to move, delirium, convulsions and death.

How heat kills a rabbit:

When a rabbit is too hot, they must lose heat or suffer brain damage through cell death. Your rabbit pants to assist in heat loss; as they pant, moisture is lost in great quantities. A lack of hydration results in low blood volume therefore less oxygen to the brain and other vital organs.

When serious damage is done to these organs and brain, the rabbit will show neurological seizure signs and die.