Winter living for wild cottontails
by Carol Shenkenberg
Recently I found a little bunny living in my outdoor patio and have been feeding it greens and carrots. Wondering how it will survive the winter outside? Do they burrow somewhere and hibernate? It waits for me to bring food out in the morning and then I watch it for hours from inside my house. It has to survive Wisconsin winter weather out there!
***** Karen Sez *****
It'll survive. Rabbits do fine in sub-zero weather, especially if they have a outdoor patio to live in/under.
Cottontails don't hibernate, and they don't burrow. They typically sleep in a hollowed out depression in the ground, giving it some shelter from the wind and the worst of the cold. It might even be buried by snow, which is quite insulating.
Domestic rabbits do dig burrows, especially the females. If this rabbit is a feral domestic rabbit, it may dig itself a burrow which will protect it from the weather and from predators.
If you feel the need (especially if the rabbit is of the domestic variety), you can give it a fairly large wire cage that sits on your patio, and then stuff that cage full of straw or orchard hay. The hay provides insulation, and the bunny will nibble the hay little by little.
Tip: If needed, it might be wise to put down some sort of plastic sheet, if that "cage" is a cardboard box. Or, most wire cages come with the availability of a metal or plastic drop pan which catches the rabbit's droppings. Either plan will help protect your patio from the rabbit's manure and urine.