Do Rabbits Get Winter Coats?
- Temperature changes are a key signal for a rabbit to start molting into its winter coat. This comes as a result of the skin of the rabbit being exposed to a certain temperature range (usually 10 degrees to 25 degrees Fahrenheit) for an extended duration of 20 days, which causes a mix of hormones to be released. These hormones are mainly responsible for the hair growth on the rabbit, and depending on the prolonged temperature, will either grow hair or begin shedding it. When the temperatures go above 25 degrees Fahrenheit for beyond 20 days, the same hormones that prompted the hair growth will prompt hair shedding.
- The new coat with less hair is much more able to handle higher temperature ranges as compared to its winter coat. By having less hair, the rabbit's respiration is much more efficient and the rabbit is able to maintain homeostasis (constant body temperature).
- Rabbits will begin to consume up to twice their normal intake of food to compensate for the energy required to produce a winter coat. The intake of food works by both fueling the energy needed to grow the coat and by helping create a thick insulation of fat under the coat to retain heat.
- Rabbits will develop their winter coats for camouflage just as well as for facilitating temperature. For their fur coats, many rabbits will begin to develop strong white hairs that will replace softer grayer tones used for the spring to early autumn season. By having a white winter coat, rabbits are drastically more capable to blend into the snow and avoid predators.