Rabbits commonly do not show obvious signs of illness like other animals that are unwell. In fact, they can look remarkably normal, even when at death’s door. A sick wild bunny makes easy pickings for a fox, so rabbits seem to be programmed to conceal their illness, because they are small animals, they can become dehydrated and hypothermic very rapidly. Prompt veterinary assistance is crucial if your rabbit is to have a fighting chance of surviving a serious illness. Delaying a veterinary visit 24hrs to see what happens can prove fatal. So, what are the dangerous signs that indicate your bunny needs to be seen by a vet immediately.
- Difficulty breathing
- Lips and tongue are bluish in colour
- Limp, floppy or cold body
- Bleeding from anywhere
- Back or leg injuries
- Pain when touched
A major problem for long-haired rabbits in the hotter months is flystrike. Where a fly lays its eggs in faeces- or urine-soiled bunny fur. Within 12 to 24 hours, the maggots hatch out and bore into the rabbit’s flesh, releasing toxins and ultimately killing the rabbit. Prevention is essential, so your rabbit should be checked daily to ensure the area under its tail is clean. Hutches should be cleaned out at least once a week, and fresh dry bedding provided regularly.
Constipation and Diarrhoea
Constipation may be a simple dietary disorder, cured by feeding more greens; diarrhoea can sometimes be treated by withholding greens for 24 hours only and feeding only hay and water. When persistent, or when combined with other symptoms, both conditions may indicate more serious illness, and the rabbit should be checked by a vet as soon as possible.
A rabbit’s teeth continue to grow and need wearing down on hard food, a gnawing block or by eating hay. Otherwise, the teeth may grow so long as to lever the jaws slowly apart or lock into the opposite jaw. Stems of kale and Brussel sprouts, as well as root vegetables are good hard food. Fresh hay should always available to your rabbit.