Rabbits are popular pets because they are soft, cute, and cuddly, but people don’t always realize that they can be fragile. There are a number of reasons why they can die, including fear, their sensitive stomachs, and being the victim of a predator.
If you want to have a rabbit as a pet, it is important to learn more about them so that you can keep them safe and help them live a longer, healthier life.
Rabbits can die easily, and when they get sick, you have a very short time to make them better. They can die of fear quite suddenly, and they can die from eating the wrong foods.
Why Rabbits Die Suddenly
Rabbits are naturally prey animals, and they are very timid. This leads to many different reasons why they can die suddenly.
1 – Heart Attack
One of the main causes of sudden death in rabbits is a heart attack. They can die suddenly from the shock of fear.
This happens when a rabbit is afraid. Rabbits are prey, and they have instincts that alert them when there is danger nearby.
If your rabbit hears a frightening sound, it raises the heart rate, which can lead to heart failure. This sound could be a dog barking, fireworks, or any other sound that triggers their fear.
2 – Sudden Change in Temperature
If you keep your rabbit indoors and suddenly move the cage outside, it can die suddenly from a change in the weather. For instance, sudden cold snaps or winter storms, along with heat waves can be dangerous for rabbits.
When pet rabbits live in a cage, they only have the protections offered by the cage. In the wild, rabbits have options to protect themselves when the weather changes.
First of all, they can seek shade on a hot day, and they can find some cool dirt in the shade. They might go down into their burrows.
In the winter, rabbits have places to seek shelter from the freezing temperatures. If they are in a cage, they have the walls of the cage and bedding, but they may not be able to escape the heat or the cold weather.
A sudden change in temperature can cause your rabbit to die suddenly. This is especially true if your rabbit ends up in direct sunlight on a hot day.
3 – Swallowing a Sharp Object
Rabbits are curious animals, and if you drop a small sharp plastic or glass object in the cage, it can swallow it. This can lead to internal damage that causes them to die.
It is important to make sure that your rabbit is always safe and that the cage and room where the rabbit spends time is clear of any sharp objects that can cause harm.
You should spot clean your rabbit cage regularly in case something falls in, and check around any room before you let your rabbit out for playtime.
4 – Poison
Rabbits have long teeth that grow continuously throughout their lives, and they chew things to keep them filed. Your rabbit will gnaw on anything, including wood, furniture, bedding, and more.
If your rabbit chews on something that contains chemicals or other materials that are toxic to the rabbit, it can die suddenly. Make sure that you are using bedding in the cage that is safe for rabbits, and keep an eye on your rabbit when it is out of the cage.
5 – Illness or Disease
Some rabbits have health issues that you may not know about. They could have been born with it, or it could develop it over time.
If you notice your rabbit acting lethargic or uninterested in food and water, you will need to go to the vet right away. If there is something wrong, your rabbit may die suddenly because they don’t stay sick for long.
Some rabbit illnesses are very contagious, so it is even more important that you notice it and remove the sick bunny from the others.
6 – Sadness or Stress
Some rabbits are stressed and lonely when they come to a new home. They may have been separated from people or other pets that they were close to, and you may notice that they look depressed.
Signs to look for are a rabbit that stops eating or lays in the corner of the cage all the time. They may not show any interest when you try to interact with them.
How to Know If Your Rabbit Is Dying
If your rabbit is dying, there are certain common signs to look for. Any of the signs will need to be addressed as soon as possible.
1 – Your Rabbit Stops Eating
You may notice that your rabbit stops eating. This can be caused by a number of factors, including sadness, illness, and stress or fear.
You will want to pay attention if you notice this. Your rabbit should show an interest when you feed it. Consider taking it to the vet.
2 – Your Rabbit Suddenly Starts Squeaking or Groaning
You may have noticed that rabbits are silent most of the time. They don’t make a lot of noise unless they are afraid or fighting.
If your rabbit is in pain, it may start suddenly squeaking or groaning. This is heart-breaking to witness, as there is little you can do besides comfort it.
3 – Your Rabbit Has a Limp Body
If you walk up to your rabbit’s cage and notice that it has a limp body, you should not try to help it up. You can take it right to the vet, but it is likely that they can’t do more than put it to sleep.
This normally happens just before the rabbit dies, so there isn’t a lot to do about it. Try to reassure the rabbit and let it rest comfortably if you can’t get it to the vet.
4 – Your Rabbit Is Unresponsive
Your rabbit may still be alive, but it might not respond to you if you talk to it or open the cage. This is a sign that the rabbit is dying.
5 – Your Rabbit Is Experiencing Involuntary Movements
You may notice your rabbit in the cage having involuntary muscle spasms, and it could appear to be jerking around. The best thing to do is to make sure that it has plenty of space, and be there.
These seizures are common when a rabbit is dying. They could come from poison or some other illness.
6 – Your Rabbit Starts Drooling
If you notice your rabbit drooling and sitting very still, it could be dying. You may want to take it to the vet if you notice this.
7 – Your Rabbit Is Shivering
If you notice your rabbit shivering, it is likely to be freezing or in shock. You can offer it a blanket or another cover to warm it up, as this is painful and the rabbit is suffering.
This is also a sign that your rabbit is dying.
8 – Your Rabbit Has Severe Spasms
Another sign that your rabbit is dying is when it suffers from severe heavy spasms. It might squeal and jerk its body rapidly. This is usually a final seizure before the rabbit dies.
How to Help Your Rabbit Live Longer
Wild rabbits don’t live as long as pet rabbits, but they have many adverse circumstances to contend with, especially predators. Rabbits are prey for many different predators, and most pet rabbits are protected from them.
When you keep your rabbit in a safe and protected environment, you have more control over meeting its needs. Take a look at some of the steps that you can take to help your rabbit live a longer life.
1 – Spend Time with Your Rabbit
Rabbits are social animals, and when you spend time with them, they feel happy. They will feel safer from predators and won’t be frightened nearly as much.
Rabbits that are left alone in their cages are jumpier and frighten easily when they see a person or hear a strange noise. This can lead to a heart attack, but you can minimize the chances of this happening when you spend time letting your rabbit know that it is loved.
2 – Feed it Healthy Foods
Rabbits have specific dietary needs, and you can choose a diet that is rich in fiber and includes a quality hay. This helps to prevent problems with digestion, their teeth, and obesity.
They also require access to clean water 24 hours a day, so you can make sure that you change the water every day for them.
3 – Clean its Cage
It is very important to make sure that your rabbit has a clean cage at all times. Whether you have a rabbit hutch or a cage, it should be spot cleaned daily and thoroughly cleaned once a week.
If you don’t clean it, all kinds of bacteria can form that can lead to diseases and more. Their skin and fur can also suffer from living in a dirty cage.
4 – Let it Exercise Regularly
Rabbits need to stay active to live a long, healthy life. Not only do they need to get out and move around, but they should have mental stimulation to keep their minds active.
If you let your rabbit outside for some exercise, make sure that it is safe from predators. There are many predators that eat rabbits, including neighboring dogs, cats, racoons, coyotes, and more.
Should Rabbits Go to the Vet?
Many people consider rabbits to be low-maintenance pets, and they are until something goes wrong. One of the most difficult things about rabbits is that they hide their issues until it is too late to help them.
You may know that rabbits appear to die suddenly quite often, but the truth is that there was likely something going on inside that the rabbit kept hidden until it was too late.
If you take your rabbit to the vet once a year for a checkup, you may find issues before they become a big problem. You will know that your rabbit is healthy, and anything that comes up will be a new problem.
If you have a rabbit that has a history of health problems, you may want to go for a vet visit every six months. In addition, you will want to take the rabbit to the vet right away if you notice that there is anything wrong.
Your vet can offer you insight about your rabbit and let you know how to know when something is a problem. The annual checkup ensures that your rabbit is healthy.
They will check the teeth to make sure that they are healthy and not growing too long. They will also check your rabbit’s weight, breathing, and heart rates.
Finally, they will examine your rabbit’s eyes and ears to make sure that there aren’t any infections or other issues. Once you have this baseline for your rabbit’s health, it is much easier to know when something is wrong.
Sometimes the vet will draw blood to check for any underlying illnesses, and the vet may test the poop to make sure that there aren’t any worms or parasites.
If your rabbit is older or has a history of illness, you will want to go more frequently to monitor its health. As rabbits age, they have a higher risk of developing a disease, so you will want to make sure that your rabbit is getting everything it can to be as comfortable as possible.
How Long Do Pet Rabbits Live?
Most pet rabbits live between six and twelve years, and smaller rabbits live longer than larger ones. The important thing is to make sure that your rabbit is relaxed and happy and has everything it needs for survival.
Your rabbit should always want to eat, and if it refuses food, you should take it to the vet right away rather than waiting to see what happens.
In addition, your rabbit should have a heart rate between 180 and 250 beats per minute, and if it is faster or slower, this is cause for concern.
Your rabbit’s body temperature should be between 100 and 104 degrees Fahrenheit, and if it goes higher or lower, you should address it right away. In addition, make sure that its coat looks clean.
Many people do find that rabbits die easily, but you can take steps to improve their lifespan. The key to having your rabbit for a long time is knowing when something is wrong and handling it right away.
I have a bachelor’s degree in Film/Video/Media Studies, as well as an associates degree in Communications. I began producing videos and musical recordings nearly 15 years ago. I am a guitarist and bassist in Southwest MI and have been in a few different bands since 2009, and in 2012 I began building custom guitars and basses in my home workshop as well. When I’m home, I love spending time with my three pets (a dog, cat, and snake) and gardening in my backyard. I also like photographing wild birds, especially birds of prey.