Where Do Rabbits Go In Winter?

Rabbits are one of the most popular indoor pets nowadays. Over the past few years, many children and young adults have come to love rabbits.

And you can’t actually blame them. Rabbits have unique personalities, and they love companions.

They do not make loud noises like most cats and dogs. In addition to that, their poop is small and usually does not have any foul odor.

These are just some of the reasons why many people are now opting to have pet rabbits instead of cats or dogs.

With the interest in rabbit species now growing, it is natural for many people to be curious about them.

Among the many that we have encountered, one particular question caught our interest.

This question revolves around a rabbit’s activity during winter. So now, the most important question in this article is: “Where do rabbits go in winter?”



Between the wild and domestic ones, the wild rabbits are actually more vulnerable during the winter season.

They are the ones who are more exposed to cold temperatures. Given that, you may be wondering how they are adapting to the cold weather.

Unlike many wild animals, wild rabbits do not hibernate during the cold winter months. They don’t have the physical capacity to do it.

To survive the harsh cold months, wild rabbits change their eating habits and their way of life. A good example of this would be the amount of time that they spend out in the open.

If you normally see them roaming during the summer months, prepare to see them less in the colder months.

Don’t worry, this does not mean that they went somewhere else. Wild rabbits do not usually relocate during the cold winters.

They might do this if they are able to find a place with better food sources. Though, generally, you can still find them in their same habitat during the summer months.

The reasons why you see fewer of them during the cold winters can be one of the following:

a) They do not go out often. They stay in their own burrows.

The lower temperatures of the winter season can negatively affect their body temperature.

This, in turn, has dangerous health effects on their bodies. This is why many of them are opting to not go out often.

b) They are busy digging their underground burrows in search of warmer spaces.

c) They are busy searching for good hiding placesThey do this to protect and keep themselves safe from predators.

Often, you can find them hiding in thick bushes.

Some of them even hide in evergreen trees or any other place where their enemy can’t find them. They do this whenever they are out in search of food.

Wild rabbits have low survival rates during the winter season. This is why it is only natural for them to choose to either stay in their burrows or hide from their predators.

They never left their original habitats, they just don’t go out as often as they did during the summer.


Now that you know that wild rabbits do not hibernate, you may be wondering how they survive in winter.

Here are the strategies that they use in order to survive the colder temperatures of winter:

1. They change their diet.

Wild rabbits eat grass and crops. They belong to a group that scientists love to call herbivores.

Unfortunately, in many parts of North America, there is snow during the winter season.

And, snow usually covers a huge portion of the land, including vegetated areas.

This results in a great reduction in the wild rabbits’ food supply. That being said, in order for them to survive, they will have to change their diet.

They will have to learn to eat what is available come wintertime, when the harder vegetation is consumed.

Wild rabbits changed their diets to cope. During the winter season, they eat twigs, woody plants, and sometimes, tree bark.  

2. They eat a lot during the summer months to build a layer of brown fat.

This fat layer will be useful to them come wintertime. It will not only keep them warm, but it will also provide energy for them.

This means that the greater the amount of brown fat a wild rabbit has, the greater his chance of survival will be.

3. They find shelter near a food source.

Most wild rabbits stay on the same burrows that they built during the summer months.

However, when the food supply near their present location runs out, some of them may be forced to find another location. This situation rarely happens, though.

Proximity to food sources is one of the considerations whenever they choose an area to settle. Most of them will dig underground burrows near the source of food.

Underground burrows happen to be the best shelter for them during winter times.

Though, brush piles and thick vegetation can also provide them with good protection from the cold temperatures.

4. They develop a certain form of winter coat.

This coping strategy starts months before the winter. It usually begins during the autumn months when they shed their furs.

After the shedding, they will develop a unique coat with thicker hair. This will keep them warm and protect them from the cold.

5. They will limit their physical activity and sleep for long hours.

6. For added protection, some wild rabbits live in warrens.

Warrens are large burrows that can accommodate many wild rabbits. Wild rabbits create warrens whenever they choose to sleep close to each other.

They do this because of the added protection that it offers to them.

Sleeping next to each other can provide them additional warmth to conserve body heat.


The Eastern cottontail rabbits are a unique species of rabbit. Unlike many wild rabbits, the eastern cottontails do not dig to create their own dens and burrows.

  • According to Lincoln Park Zoo, during the winter they are most likely to look for an already-made habitat for safety.

This is one of the reasons why many people in many parts of North America often see them in their backyards.

If you see them in your backyard, they probably thought your garden was a safe place for them to stay.

  • Another good reason would be that there is a food source nearby. This means that they are only using your backyard as a way to access the food supply.
  • There aren’t many predators who will hunt them in the suburbs. That is why you often see them out in the open. Just let them be.

The important thing is that they are not destroying any parts of your garden.

Eastern cottontail rabbits do the same thing that most wild rabbits do during the winter. 

They have to because they need to survive. According to many studies, wild rabbits have low survival rates during winter.

For eastern cottontails, only 30% of the rabbit population will live past winter.

To ensure the continuity of their species, they breed before winter. They do this typically from February to September.

Most female rabbits can give birth to a litter a maximum of six times a year. Each litter has about 1 to 8 pieces of baby rabbits.

Also, keep in mind that rabbits have a short gestation period. The average is 31 days. Though, some wild rabbits have about 37 days. Eastern Cottontails have about 27 days.

This allows them to reproduce enough offspring before winter. This is necessary to ensure the continuation of the rabbit population.


Unlike wild rabbits, domestic rabbits do not need to search for food or dig burrows. They do, however, develop a winter coat and a layer of brown fat too.  

Indoor rabbits have their own humans to depend on during the cold winter months.

Their owners can provide them with food, along with a warm and safe place to sleep. Indoor rabbits are, thus, more likely to survive the cold winter months.

Keep in mind that taking care of domestic rabbits is not easy. You will have a lot of things to do for them.

You will have to be okay with having a bunny play area made from a cardboard box in your living room. And, you will definitely need a budget for their needs.

It is always a good idea to do your own research first before deciding to have them. The good news is there are many available reading materials about them.


Do rabbits burrow under snow?

Yes, they can dig and create burrows under the snow.

Where do rabbits sleep in winter?

They sleep in the same place that they did during the summer months. They don’t migrate.

In fact, most of them tend to live in the same place for the rest of their lives. However, during extremely cold temperatures, many of them dig deeper holes.


Rabbits cannot hibernate, and they will rarely migrate. They don’t go anywhere during the winter season.

Instead, they just stay put in their own burrows or habitats. Many limit their physical activities and just sleep for most parts of the day.

Those who are out looking for food are looking for something that is different from what they usually get. Hence, you will not find them in their usual spots.

These are the reasons why you don’t see them as often as during the summer months.

D. Hahn

DIY guru, dad, husband, blogger. When I'm not creating life hacks I'm teaching my kids how to fix stuff after their dad breaks it.

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