Can my rabbit go out in the rain?

Should we let our rabbits play in the rain? I wasn't sure, and there are many different answers on forums. So I asked a vet...


The sun shone brightly during the first few weeks since the bunnies arrived. Fish and Chips happily played and binkied in the garden, and we watched, enchanted. But then the weather turned nasty again. Temperatures dropped a bit, and for a couple of days we had periods of rain like stair-rods. We made sure our rabbits were safe and secure, and found gaps between the storms to let them out and exercise and run around. But it made me wonder – can my bunny go out in the rain? Can my rabbit get wet? And what should I do if my rabbit gets wet?

Just like everyone does, I googled it. But the results weren’t always helpful. People had different views from each other, and seemed to have different experiences. However, I think I found a consensus that most owners would agree with. To check this out, I asked our vet while our bunnies were getting their RHD-2 vaccination. So here’s what I found.

Can rabbits go out in the rain?

It’s okay for your pet rabbit to be out in the rain if your bunny is healthy, has the choice to get back under shelter, and has somewhere dry and draught free to retreat to. Young rabbits and poorly rabbits should be protected from the rain more. And if it is torrential, then make sure your rabbits are protected. But if it is drizzling down and your bunny is choosing to be outside, then there’s no problem.

What is the danger of rain for rabbits?

The main danger of rain for rabbits is them getting too cold – hypothermia. But remember that a comfortable temperature for rabbits is lower than that for humans – they are designed for colder weather. And their fur acts like a waterproof coat which helps protect them from both the rain and the cold.

If a bunny has the choice of getting indoors and somewhere warmer, then just like us they will move inside if they are getting miserable outside.

How do bunnies stay dryer and warmer than humans?

Rabbits have adapted to lower temperatures than humans. One way they have done this is through their fur. It has two properties that help.

First, the fur has some hydrophobic properties. This means that the fur repels water to an extent. If you look at a raindrop on a leaf, the raindrop beads up and isn’t absorbed into the leaf – that’s a hydrophobic effect.

A similar result happens when water falls on the rabbit’s fur – the water is more likely to bead up and roll off than to soak the hair.

This helps the bunny stay dryer (and so warmer) than us – the cold water never gets near the rabbit’s body. It’s a bit like if we wear a rainproof coat – we don’t get wet underneath.

The second way that the fur keeps them warmer is that rabbit fur is different from human hair.

Hair is made up of three elements – the cuticle (which is the outside layer, made up of scaly like cells); the cortex (which is the main body of the hair, and includes the pigments that make up hair colour); and the medulla (which is a central column of cells).

In humans, the medulla is a bit shapeless. But rabbits have a thick medulla full of cells which in turn are full of air.

Rabbit hair under microscope

Rabbit hair – the lighter middle area is the medulla full of cells containing air. From the FBI guide linked to in the post.

This means rabbit hairs are like hollow columns, with permanently trapped air. This air insulates the rabbit. Rabbit fur keeps them warmer far better than our hair keeps our heads warm.

Strangely enough, one of the better sources of information on the different types of hair and fur comes from the FBI! Forensic scientists need to be able to tell the different types of fur and hair from different animals apart, and so have produced a technical guide on the subject – you can find it here if you want to know more.

The upshot is that rabbits can enjoy the rain more than humans because their fur keeps them dryer and warmer.

Can rain cause pneumonia?

If you look on forums, some people make sure that their bun is kept out of the rain because of worries about pneumonia or other respiratory diseases. I asked our vet specifically about this.

He explained it was a myth. Small animals like rabbits are more prone to respiratory diseases, BUT being out in the rain didn’t cause them. (Incidentally, if you suspect your rabbit may have any type of respiratory disease, seek out a vet’s advice as soon as possible.)

Pneumonia is an inflammation of the lungs, and is caused by infections (there are different types – bacterial, viral, fungal and parasitic – for more information, see here).

But being in the rain isn’t one of the causes.

If you think about it, it isn’t that surprising that rabbits can go out in the rain. In the wild, rabbits have to be able to come out of their burrows and feed in all sorts of weather – they are not like Mogwai

When should you make sure your bunny is in the hutch or inside?

Some bunnies will even stay outside when the weather is chucking it down. But most owners will recommend making sure that they avoid extreme weather. And if your rabbit is ill, or old and frail, it might make sense to ensure they stay warmer and dryer.

What to do if your bunny is wet

If your bunny has got too wet, then lightly towelling them dry is the main recommendation. Be careful about moving them straight from a really cold, wet environment to a hot environment and then back out in the cold – the dramatic changes in temperature can be stressful.

Can I give my rabbit a bath?

Some owners do give their rabbits a bath, but many bunnies don’t enjoy the experience. Generally, there shouldn’t be any need to give your rabbit a bath – they will keep themselves clean.

If specific areas do need cleaning, then it is best just to clean these areas rather than have a complete bath.


We love our bunnies, and want the best for them. It’s right to be careful and make sure that our rabbits aren’t becoming cold, miserable or ill. But so long as our rabbits have the choice of staying warm and dry (and so long as they’re healthy), we don’t need to worry if our rabbits choose to spend some time playing in the rain.

Want to keep your bunnies warm when it gets colder? We use a microwaveable heatpad by Snugglesafe, You can check out our review of it here.

As you care about your bunny’s health, you might also want to read our article on what herbs are safe to give your rabbit.

And you can find out why timothy hay is so good for rabbits in our article here.

Posted by Jonathan