This post is dedicated to Mrs Bok and Tim Tam – just because I was thinking of them today while I was cooling my little babushka bunny.
The temperature in Melbourne and Adelaide has been extreme today with the temperature gauges hitting 38°C and 42°C respectively.
Its on stinkin’ hot days such as these when we are so preoccupied with our own state of near expiration that we need to spare a thought for our animal companions.
My darling Chickie babushka recently had a major operation to remove her unusually oversized uterus. Everything is all well and good now but, I have been keeping a close eye on her in this heat the past few days. Last night I noticed that she was panting frantically so I needed to find a way to cool her down. Unlike us, rabbits don’t sweat to reduce their body temperature, instead they regulate their temperature through either increased or decreased blood flow to their ears. I decided that if I was going to cool her down I was going to have to do cool down those beautiful big ears and this is what I did:
I got a nice fine piece of material, in my case one of mum’s old hankies, I wet it with cold water and gently wiped down Chickies head and ears.
She was loving it so I decided to wrap the hankie around the ears for a few minutes while we had a little pat time. I repeated this a few times with fresh water and it did a really good job.
I still can’t work out which she was loving most: The cool down or her new Babushka look.
I also took one of those esky bricks out of the freezer, wrapped it in a tea towel and put it next to her so that she could lay on it to cool herself down. That’s all I had frozen at the time but, today I filled a 1.25l soft drink bottle as it was longer and that seems to be doing the trick. Just remember not to fill it completely as the water will expand as it freezes!
As for my girls (chooks), I always keep a close eye on them during hot weather. Chickens are so fragile on hot days. The most important thing to remember about chooks is that they are jungle birds and as such need shade to survive. I always make sure that they have plenty of shade at all times of the day – yes that pesky sun has a habit of moving! I have purposely planted shady trees in spots that will keep both them and our house cool on days like this.
I give my girls water in various spots so that they always have water on hand and I like to keep that water in the shade so that they don’t have to go out in the sun to drink. It also ensures that the water doesn’t get hot. No-one likes to drink warm water, well not in the summer that is!
Shade and water are the most important parts but keeping them cool is also important. I like to be sure that they are actually hydrated so, I put out cold watermelon. The girls dig in for the seeds and get a mouth full of liquid at the same time. It keeps them hydrated and it cools them down at the same time.
There are a couple of other things that I do for them:
I place large blocks of ice in their water (made with old ice-cream containers or yoghurt tubs).
I get out the hose with the mister nozzle and give them a misting. This usually takes place under their favourite tree.
If conditions are really extreme (or if I have a clucky chook) I give them a cool bath. This brings their temperature down nicely. By bath I mean that I pop them in a tub with cool water (not icy-cold) filled to about belly height. I gently wave the water about their tummies and under the wings. Just quietly, I think they love it!.
And in mega extreme cases I bring them inside! Yes indeed. This only happens when the weather gets into the mid 40’s. They can perish very easily and I don’t take the chance.
I must state that they don’t just roam around anywhere. I have a spare bathroom that gets fitted out with cardboard and newspapers on such a special occasion. I would use the garage but we have a big metal door that gets very hot in the summer and it is no good so, inside it is. They don’t make a mess on those days anyway, they usually just sit around wondering why they got to come inside for a change. Having said all of that, as Mrs Bok brought “Chook Nappies” to my attention earlier this year my girls may well be free ranging with Miss Chickie the next time we have a day in the mid 40’s. Check them out here: Chook Nappies, City Chicks – Eggs on legs