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Do Rabbits Hibernate?

If you live in the suburbs, you have probably seen a lot of rabbits, especially in the spring, as they reproduce quickly.

However, you may be wondering why you have never seen a rabbit in the wintertime.

Where do the rabbits go, and what do they do? Do rabbits hibernate? 

rabbit-in-iceNo, rabbits do not hibernate. They do not migrate, either. Instead, rabbits change their behavior and their diet throughout the winter to continue living in the same habitats all year round. Most rabbits also spend most of their time underground and develop thick coats in the winter.

Keep reading to learn more about why rabbits do not hibernate, as well as how they survive in the winter. 

Why Do Rabbits Not Hibernate?

The process of hibernation involves slowing down bodily functions like metabolism, heart rate, temperature, and breathing. This allows some animals to sleep deeply and preserve their energy. 

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rabbit-on-groundA rabbit’s body cannot slow down like this. They need a lot of fiber and have a very high metabolism that is unable to slow down long enough for hibernation to be anything but fatal. 

Why Do Rabbits Not Migrate? 

Many creatures migrate temporarily to a new location in the winter because they cannot hibernate or adapt to the colder conditions.

However, rabbits rarely leave their territory after claiming it. They will spend the majority of their lives in that single place.

Even during mating season, rabbit territory may increase by up to ten acres, but they still hardly travel beyond the area they know best.

Staying in this limited area decreases a rabbit’s chances of getting noticed, pursued, or picked off by a predator.

How Do Rabbits Survive the Winter? 

rabbit-surviving-witerRabbits have evolved to adapt their behavior and their diet to survive the winter.

Most species of rabbit will hide in tunnels they have dug under the ground whenever they are not searching for food.

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Cottontail rabbits do not dig tunnels, so they find places like dens or holes in the ground to seek shelter. Rabbits also grow a winter coat to help them stay warm.

When rabbits can no longer find the leaves and vegetables that they prefer to eat, they switch over to eating roots, stray pine cones, twigs from bushes, and even bark off of trees.

Their sharp claws make it possible to dig and forage for food sources more thoroughly during the winter. 

Conclusion 

rabbit-between-flowerWhile many animals have evolved to either spend the winter sleeping or living in a warmer location, rabbits have developed a strong need to remain on their territory at all times.

Staying within this area that they know quite well actually makes them less of a target for predators. 

Instead of hibernating or migrating in the winter, rabbits switch to spending as much time out of the weather as possible.

They also take on a rougher diet of bark, twigs, roots, and even pine cones once the leaves and plant matter that they usually eat becomes sparse. 

Do Rabbits Hibernate?

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