Rabbits are Thailand’s most popular pet. For sale at just about every pet shop, pet market and even on street stalls in the middle of busy towns, rabbits are sold by their tens of thousands every year. Not really suited for such a hot climate though, rabbits that are not kept properly cool in Thailand die quickly. Particularly if you’re keeping your rabbits outside in Thailand, these tips to keep a rabbit cool must be followed consistently or your poor bunny won’t last long.
Keep Their Coat Combed and Trimmed – Think about how hot you would be if you were forced to wear a fur coat all the time, even when it was 105 degrees outside. That’s just how your rabbit feels outside in Thailand, or even inside if the air conditioning isn’t on. To keep your rabbit cool, combing his fur and trimming it every week is a must. This will keep the excess hair to a minimum and a quick trim will get rid of hair that’s doing nothing but making him hot.
Use a Fan If Outside – I have rabbits that spend part of the day outside on my balcony (in the shade!) and part of the time inside in the air conditioning. When they’re in their cage outside, I make sure there’s a large fan trained on the cage, so there’s air flow running through at all times. My rabbits don’t like the air being blown directly on them and, if yours don’t either, just make sure they can at least feel the air moving as it does help keep them cool.
Freeze Ice Packs Every Day – If I know the day is going to be excessively hot (90 degrees and above), I always make sure, the night before, that I’ve frozen several hard plastic ice packs. Then, before I go out, I place them around the cage in strategic positions, usually in places I know my bunnies like to lie. Sure enough, when I come home, they’re usually snuggled up next to one each as the ice keeps them cooled off and more comfortable. A friend also uses plastic bottles filled with water and frozen, but for my rabbits they nibbled on them too much and would gnaw through the plastic and the ice would melt, so I stopped using them.
Make Lots of Shade – My rabbit’s cage is basically my entire balcony. Covered at the top, so they can’t jump off, I have several small plastic children’s chairs and stools placed all over the balcony. In two locations, I also have large raffia mats covering the ‘roof’ of the cage to keep the sun out. With all of this architecture, my rabbits have plenty of shady places to lie when the Thai heat really gets brutal.
Use Marble Slabs – Another cool trick for a hot country like Thailand is to keep your rabbit cool by placing a few small marble tiles around the cage. Marble never heats up so, on a hot day, your rabbit can lie on a piece of it and stay cool. I bought mine at a Thai hardware store and, for the low-quality type, which is all you need, I only paid 390 baht ($11.40) for 2 large tiles. I bought two packs, so four tiles, and this was enough to have cool lying space on the floor of the cage for two rabbits.
Keep Inside If Excessively Hot – Have an indoor cage available so that, if the Thailand heat gets over 95 degrees, you can bring your rabbits inside, at least for the day. I bring mine inside at 10 am on days where I know the heat index is going to be well over one hundred, then put them back outside once it’s cooled off. If that sometimes means they get to sleep inside when the temperature hasn’t cooled much then, so be it. At least they stay cooled off and healthy inside and don’t die of heat stroke outside.
Watch Carefully For Signs of Overheating – If your rabbit lies flat out with its head raised up high and starts to pant, it’s overheating. You need to bring it inside immediately and get it cooled off. Running a cool bath (just an inch or two of water) and holding it in there for a few minutes can get bunny cooled off fast. If you don’t, particularly in a country as hot as Thailand, your rabbit can literally die of heat stroke in a couple of hours.
Keeping a rabbit cool in Thailand is often nothing more than common sense. Just like in any hot climate, making sure your rabbit doesn’t overheat is as simple as following a quick daily routine. I’ve had my rabbits outside in Thailand for almost two years and all of them have done just fine. I am aware of the heat index every day though and check the weather forecast before I leave my apartment to ensure a heatwave doesn’t suddenly arrive and surprise me. If you follow these quick and easy tips to keep a rabbit cool, you too can have healthy, cool rabbits outside in Thailand for years to come.