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Home > Rabbits > How To Calm Your Rabbit During Thunderstorms: 15 Vet-Approved Tips

How To Calm Your Rabbit During Thunderstorms: 15 Vet-Approved Tips

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Dr. Maxbetter Vizelberg

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Rabbits are intelligent, affectionate creatures. They’re soft, quiet, and fluffy, but they’re sometimes misunderstood and often don’t get the proper care they need. Rabbits are prey animals, so stress is felt more often and is more dangerous to them. They also don’t understand thunder and lightning and what it is, so being out in a storm can cause their stress levels to skyrocket.

It’s crucial to reduce the stress rabbits feel during thunderstorms (and in any other loud environment or situation), as large amounts of stress can cause them to stop eating, which can quickly become fatal. High stress can even cause rabbits to die due to shock suddenly.

As owners, we can de-stress our rabbits and keep them calm during thunderstorms. Read on to find out our top 15 tips on keeping your bunny calm when a storm hits.


The 15 Tips for Calming Your Rabbit During Thunderstorms

1. Bring Their Hutch Inside

Moving your bunny inside to a quiet, darkened room from outside in the rain can help reduce stress. Rabbits kept in outside hutches should always be offered a warm, dry place since being out in the thunderstorm will be nothing but cold, wet and scary for them.

Bring them inside if you can help to relax them, and protect them from getting too cold or being frightened by the noise.

mini rex rabbit in a cage
Image Credit: Keraj1976, Wikimedia Commons

2. Be Calm

Rabbits can pick up on their owner’s emotions, even if you don’t feel stressed yourself.

If you’re anxious (or anxious about your rabbit being anxious), it can create a feedback loop, meaning they are also more nervous.

A full circle of stress and anxiety can be broken if you keep yourself calm. Your rabbit will look to you for comfort and guidance, and if they see that you’re relaxed, it can help them realize they don’t need to stress as much.

3. Reduce Noise Levels From Outdoors

Reducing the noise levels from outside can help to de-stress and calm your rabbit. For example, closing doors and windows and moving your bunny away from open windows is ideal for keeping them relaxed by reducing the noise your rabbit can hear, as their hearing is much keener than ours.

4. Try a White Noise Machine or Music

Trying a white noise machine or playing soft music can help your rabbit unwind. While they’ll still be able to hear the thunderstorm (as they have sensitive hearing), your bunny will be able to concentrate on something other than the thunderclaps and the sudden bangs, which means that if anything else, the music can be a distraction.

White noise could also help to calm them during a thunderstorm, but be sure not to play any music too loud, as the constant noise will cause your rabbit more stress.

rabbit in its room
Image Credit: G_O_S, Shutterstock

5. Comfort Your Bunny With Gentle, Soothing Words

Some rabbits are very close to their owners. Rabbits that have bonded to their owners will look to them for comfort and safety in times of stress, and to help calm your rabbit, you can offer some gentle words and a soothing presence.

Despite loving you just as much, other rabbits want to be alone in a hiding space when they’re stressed to wait out the storm. Move in a slow, measured way if your rabbit decides to stay with you, and make sure not to use any fast or jerking movements (particularly with your hands over their heads). Rabbits can mistake a moving hand for a bird of prey, which will cause more stress.

The critical aspect to remember is to go at your rabbit’s pace. Let them come to you, and if you see any signs of elevated stress, take a break and let your rabbit do what they need to do.

6. Offer Them a Hiding Place

When stressed or afraid, rabbits will go to enclosed spaces or hiding places, such as their warrens in the wild. This closeness and darkness help them to feel safe, and we can help replicate that feeling by using rabbit houses or tunnels. If your bunny has a rabbit house that they use, you can place it in a quiet and darkened room, along with any tunnels they like to play in.

Blankets can also be given to your bunny to burrow under in a pinch, and cardboard boxes with a hole cut out can act as a safe space (particularly if there are two entrances and exits).

Supervise your rabbit if you provide them with a blanket or a cardboard box since rabbits like to chew, and eating these materials can prove dangerous if ingested.

7. Be Present With Them In The Room

Being in the same room as your rabbit, even if you’re not directly interacting with them, can help them to feel safe. If your rabbit is the type that likes to do its own thing and would instead be hiding to wait out the storm, you can still talk gently. Whether reading a book or newspaper, this gentle, constant, familiar sound can help reassure your rabbit that you are there with them and that they are safe.

Rabbit Shredding
Image Credit: Wanwajee Weeraphukdee, Shutterstock

8. Reduce External Stimuli

If your rabbit only wants to be close to you, you can sit them on your lap and cover their eyes with your hands. A rabbit’s senses are so sharp that they can become easily overloaded, especially with constant thunder, lightning flashes, and heavy rain.

All the sensory input can cause stress, so helping them by gently covering their eyes with your hands will allow them to adjust and cope.

9. Provide an Alternative Activity or Distraction

If your bunny is receptive, you can allow them to display some natural behaviors, which often helps rabbits calm down. For example, providing them with a digging box with shredded paper or substrate will let your rabbit exhibit this instinctual behavior. Hiding treats and toys for them to forage is another rewarding distraction from the storm, such as hiding a treat in blankets.

This can help replicate foraging behavior and encourage your rabbits to dig for the treat, which is also an excellent distraction from the thunderstorm raging outside.

10. Recognize the Signs of Fear in Rabbits

It’s essential to know when your bunny is scared and stressed. This helps you to know when it’s time to intervene or when to step up your calming efforts with them.

Signs of stress in rabbits include:
  • Screaming
  • Freezing in place
  • Wide staring eyes with their whites showing
  • Flattened ears
  • Pacing their hutch or enclosure
  • Baring their teeth
  • A hunched posture
  • Displaying aggression
  • Stamping their hind feet

Recognizing these signs can help you step in and de-escalate your bunny’s stress level as quickly as possible.

flemish giant rabbit on wooden floor
Image Credit: mariesacha, Shutterstock

11. Provide Soft, Warm Bedding

Providing your rabbits with soft and warm bedding, such as more substrate or even a blanket, can help insulate the noise from outside, particularly if your rabbit is in a place such as a quiet and dark room, in a box, or in their hutch. This provides them a sense of closeness and can help reduce their stress by simulating being in their borrow.

12. Try an Anti-Stress Product

Anti-stress products are beneficial (particularly for house rabbits) during thunderstorms, and products such as Pet Remedy continuously give off a calming blend of ingredients such as valerian, which is inhaled by your rabbit and helps to calm them down.

There are sprays available that you can use on fabric to cover it in a relaxing scent. If they have one, you can place this blanket into your rabbit’s hutch or house to comfort them. Even better, if they are house rabbits, you can use a plug-in that gives them a continuous stream of the smell.

13. Play a Game With Them

Playing a game with your rabbit, if they are willing, can be an excellent way to distract them. If your rabbits show signs of stress during a thunderstorm but are not fearful and still playing and interacting with you, a good game can take their mind off the storm outside.

Ensure you are watching your rabbit constantly and reading their body language to know when they’re done with the game or if they are getting more stressed. A good option for a distraction game is playing catch with your bunny by letting them drop a favorite toy out with their teeth, and once you “catch” it, you can throw it back. It’s almost like you’re playing fetch!

Rabbit with a toy
Image Credit: Rita_Kochmarjova, Shutterstock

14. Ensure Your Rabbit Has Company

Rabbits generally thrive when living together. They are social animals, and they can get depressed if they don’t have companions, even to the point of refusing to eat.

If your rabbit has company in their hutch or living area, particularly in stressful situations, they can help calm each other as they would in the wild. Rabbits mutually groom and can cuddle to reduce each other’s stress levels, and as much as we want to distress our beloved bunnies, we cannot provide that level of comfort as the same species can.

15. Consider Medication

As a last resort, you can consider medication such as an anti-anxiety medicine from your vet. This can help if a forecasted thunderstorm is on the horizon, but it should be your last option. Don’t ever give medication to your rabbit without first clearing it with a veterinarian since rabbits are sensitive creatures.



Can Rabbits Be Outside During A Thunderstorm?

Ideally, your rabbits shouldn’t be outside in the thunderstorm, and you should bring them into the house if you can. This will reduce their stress as leaving them out in the rain and the cold can frighten them, and if they get stressed or frightened enough, they can die of shock.

If you can’t bring them into the house, a warm, dry shed or outbuilding can suffice; just don’t leave them out in the rain.

Can Rabbits Hear Thunder?

Rabbits can hear thunder and lightning much more clearly than we can. This is part of the reason why the stress levels rabbits experience during a thunderstorm can be fatal.

Rabbits have an excellent hearing range; they have large ears that funnel and concentrate sound. Rabbits can hear sounds up to 42,000Hz in pitch, which is why reducing noise from thunderstorms is the most effective way to keep your rabbit calm when a storm is raging.

Image Credit: RingDeer Enterprises, Shutterstock



It’s our duty as responsible owners to prevent suffering and stress during thunderstorms for our rabbits. These tips are simple but very effective in reducing the stress your rabbits may feel and helping them to calm down.

They can also be applied to other situations such as fireworks and other loud events such as the 4th of July. Keeping your rabbit safe and calm as much as possible is one of the best things you can do for them, as you won’t be able to change the weather, but you can make the whole situation more enjoyable for your furry rabbit friend.

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Featured Image Credit: cottonbro, Pexels

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