Incredible Facts! Do Bunnies Hibernate?

Do Bunnies Hibernate? To the best of my knowledge, rabbits do not hibernate, but they do change when winter comes. In the following article, I will analyze whether rabbits hibernate.

What is Hibernation?

  • Hibernation is an animal’s innate response to survival.
  • Hibernation is due to the changing of seasons (temperature, sunlight, weather conditions) and changes in the availability of resources, mostly food sources.
  • It is a state of prolonged inactivity of the animal, along with all the chemical reactions inside an animal’s body slowing down to preserve internal resources and energy.
  • When animals hibernate, their body temperatures, metabolism, respiratory rate, and heart rate all slow down. Some animals will move around a bit depending on the temperature and weather, but they don’t do any important life activities that require a lot of energy.

Do Bunnies Hibernate?

do bunnies hibernate

Pet bunnies and wild rabbits do not hibernate, but they may exhibit changes in behavior and appearance if exposed to colder conditions.

During the colder winter months, bunnies ingest more coarse, wood-based food sources (versus sweeter, juicier meals – even tomatoes!), such as tree bark, twigs, and conifer (pine tree) needles, sometimes even digging and foraging under snow to find it.

Most wild rabbits are most active foraging for food during dusk or dawn as the dim light reduces their chances of being seen by a predator. This is known as a crepuscular animal.

Do Wild Rabbits Hibernate?

Wild rabbits do not hibernate, but their behavior will change during the winter. These changes include a much different winter diet vs a summer diet. During the summer, wild rabbits survive by eating vegetation and weeds like grass, clovers, flowers, wildflowers, and vegetables.

However, in the winter, wild rabbits don’t have access to their favorite warm-weather foods, so they have to find new ways to survive. In the winter they rely upon food buried in the snow, and the main part of their diet is tree bark.

How Do Rabbits Survive Without Hibernating?

  • Many animals hibernate in the winter because food becomes more scarce and there are typically harsher weather conditions, both of which can kill them. However, because food is normally available year-round for rabbits, hibernation is not completely necessary and therefore has not evolved in the species. Instead, rabbits stay in their home territory and don’t move much.
  • As long as a wild rabbit has enough food to build a layer of insulating fat in its body a grow a thick fur coat, it can survive in the cold winter.
  • As gross as it sounds to us humans, wild rabbits will also ingest feces when food is scarce to potentially add calories, nutrition, and even some vitamins (especially vitamin B!) back into their diet. Kinda gross, right?!?

Where Do Rabbits Live in The Winter?

  • The remaining time after rabbits spend foraging is spent mostly on sleeping to preserve energy and keep warm.
  • The cold weather leads to a significant decrease in vegetation density and trees losing leaves and branches.
  • This makes predators spot wild rabbits much more easily. It is not easy to hide and survive in twigs and branches when you can be spotted so easily by predators looking for a snack.
  • Rabbits have to find places to hide from predators and eat without being hunted, so they dig holes and find warm, safe, tight spaces, in hollow logs, rock piles, and leaf or brush piles.
  • Some rabbit breeds also change their coat color so that they blend in the gray and white landscape of the snowy, desolate winter landscape.

Do Domesticated Rabbits Hibernate?

  • You shouldn’t expect your pet bunny to enter hibernation during the winter months because rabbits don’t hibernate.
  • In fact, some pet bunnies like the cold weather and may have increased energy and playfulness in winter.
  • Many pet rabbit owners are unaware that rabbits are much more likely to have problems with heat and heat exhaustion than cold-related hibernation or health issues.
  • So make sure to give your pet plenty of access to cool places and fresh water all summer long.

Why Don’t Bunnies Hibernate?

Because rabbits are somewhat adapted to find enough food and stay warm in winter, they can stay active enough that their bodies do not need to go into ‘power save‘ mode like other animals that hibernate must do.

Remember, the whole point of hibernation is a survival mechanism for animals that can’t find enough resources to survive the cold winter months.


Bunnies don’t need to hibernate because they have enough food available to them all year round, and they can grow a thick fur coat. However, it is easier for predators to spot them in the winter when there are no leaves on the trees and bushes, so they tend to hide in burrows and under plants to stay safe and warm.

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