If you recently noticed that your bunny is not moving around as much as usual, but it is still breathing and clearly alive, you need to figure out the reason immediately as there could be serious issues afoot, and some of these could potentially be fatal.
This article will provide you with all of the possible reasons for your pet rabbit being less active so you can determine whether a vet visit is necessary.
Reasons of Minor Concern
There are a few reasons for your rabbit staying in one place that are not of much concern. This section will detail these causes leading to stillness that is typical of normal rabbits.
On a side note, regardless of whether you believe your pet’s lack of movement is due to a reason that warrants a visit to your vet, you should always bring your bunny to the vet for regular checkups to keep it from experiencing preventable health issues.
It is absolutely possible and even likely that your rabbit is simply resting, and this is why it is not moving around much. Similar to humans, they need time to recharge their batteries, too.
If your rabbit eventually displays its normal amount of energy, it is probably just getting some rest from time to time.
Rabbits typically stand still while their teeth gnaw through the food in their mouths. If your rabbit is near its food dish while it is standing still, this might be the cause.
Simply watch your pet for a few minutes to see if it starts eating its food or moving around. If it does, you can be quite certain it is just sitting still while enjoying its meal.
Since rabbits are prey in the wild, they will often sit perfectly still so as to not be seen. Your pet rabbit still has this instinct in it, so it might be staying in one spot while it is determining whether there are any threats in its surroundings.
Try to make sure there is nothing in the general area that your pet would perhaps consider to be a threat to its safety, as it could be checking out its environment because it is fearful.
If you recently moved to a new home, relocated your bunny to a different room in your house, or just acquired your pet, this is a common behavior for a rabbit to display.
Your rabbit may also remain still for a while if there is a loud sound around it. For example, if you just used a vacuum to clean up near your bunny’s enclosure, your pet is probably simply on guard because it was startled by the sound of the machine.
When rabbits are sleeping, it can be difficult to tell as sometimes they will have their eyes partially or even completely open. This is due to these animals being prey—they must be as alert as possible to detect nearby predator threats.
One way you might be able to tell if your rabbit is sleeping is by looking for drooping or twitching eyelids, though try not to startle the poor animal while attempting to check. If you do notice some slight movement in its eyelids, it is a clear sign that your pet is simply getting some necessary sleep.
Domesticated rabbits typically sleep for around six to eight hours each day, so they require as much shut-eye as we do. Unlike humans, though, bunnies get their sleep during the daytime hours, and they are usually most active around sunrise and sunset.
More Serious Issues
Unfortunately, it is possible that your rabbit being stationary for a long period of time is a sign of a larger problem that could threaten your pet’s health.
Take a look at these possible reasons below to determine whether you should take action to help your bunny.
If your rabbit consistently appears to be lethargic, it is possible it is not getting the proper nutrients it needs to be bursting with energy. Thus, make certain your pet’s diet contains the proper nutritional content.
As long as you are providing your bunny with pellets that are designed for pet rabbits, and you are making sure its food dish is never empty, you should not have any issues with your pet being malnourished. However, there could be underlying causes that are making your pet have trouble absorbing nutrients like it should be.
Thus, if you suspect this is the reason for your pet being lethargic, such as if you also notice your rabbit is losing weight, you can bring it to a vet to get some blood work and other tests done to make sure there are not any major health problems lurking.
Similarly to feeding your pet properly, you should also make sure you are keeping its hanging bottle or bowl filled with enough water.
If you are planning to be away from home for several days, ask a friend to visit your house to feed and give water to your pet while you are away. If you have nobody to help you with this, you can also consider boarding your bunny, though this can be costly.
You should make sure you are brushing your pet rabbit enough that it does not start to develop mats in its fur. If bad mats start to form, it can cause your pet to quit moving as much because its limbs are simply becoming immobilized by the knots.
Bad mats in your rabbit’s fur can also start to damage the skin underneath them, leading to a lot of pain for your little pet. This is why brushing the knots out regularly is so important.
If you have let your bunny’s fur get extremely matted up, and you find that you cannot brush them out, you might need to visit a groomer or vet to have them cut the mats out of the fur.
Another problem your rabbit might have is urine scalding on its back legs. It is quite common for your bunny to get urine on its legs while relieving itself, and this can start irritating its skin.
Make sure you help your rabbit by cleaning off its back legs if you notice urine on them.
Even at the young age of three, rabbits can start to experience a drop in energy levels, but along with this, they can also develop arthritis. Both of these things can result in a rabbit that moves around much less.
There are a couple of ways you can help your rabbit get relief from its arthritis, if you suspect this is the issue.
One way is by picking up various supplements for your pet bunny that are designed to help with this ailment. You can ask your vet to help you pick out what is best for your pet.
You can also gently rub your rabbit’s legs to ease the pain they are feeling. Your bunny will undoubtedly love this act of kindness.
Possible Leg Injury
It is possible that your pet rabbit is spending a lot of time in a single spot due to a leg injury. The issue could be something less serious, such as a pulled muscle or minor sprain, but it could also be a fractured bone that is causing your pet to remain still.
If you often let your rabbit run freely outdoors, there is a greater possibility of an injury occurring, though your pet can also hurt itself while in its enclosure, particularly if it is in a cage with a wire bottom or sides. For this reason, it is vital that you pick out an appropriate enclosure for your pet to begin with.
One way you can tell if your pet’s leg is injured is by watching for a limp when your bunny does move. You might even notice your rabbit dragging its leg, which is indicative of a more serious injury.
Another way you can check if your pet is injured is by looking for swelling or obvious disfigurement in its legs. If your bunny has a broken leg, surgery is required to repair the damage, which can be quite costly.
If your rabbit is suffering from a simple sprain or pulled muscle, time will eventually heal the injury. Keep an eye on your pet to monitor its improvement, and if you are not sure whether it is a serious injury the rabbit is experiencing, you can bring your bunny to the vet to get their opinion on the matter.
If your pet rabbit happens to be pregnant, it could be experiencing a potentially life-threatening issue called pregnancy toxaemia. This occurs when your pet rabbit is not receiving the amount of nutrients required for a bunny growing a new life inside of it, and it is more common in young rabbit mothers.
Aside from lethargy, some other symptoms of this issue include the appearance of excess fat toward the final stages of your pet’s pregnancy, seizures, loss of appetite, problems with breathing, and a stillbirth. Bring your pet to a vet to see what they recommend for keeping your pregnant pet alive and well.
Signs Death May Be Near
If you not only notice that your rabbit is not moving much, but it is also demonstrating one or more of the behaviors described below, then you need to bring your rabbit to a vet immediately. This is because they are indicators that your pet’s life might be in danger.
Not Eating or Drinking
If your rabbit is not moving much, you should keep monitoring its behavior to look for other signs. One of these signs is minimal or no eating and/or drinking.
If you notice that your pet bunny’s food is staying full longer than usual, or you do not see it eating after checking on it throughout the day, it could be an indicator that your rabbit has a more serious health issue that needs to be dealt with. The same goes for its water bowl or bottle.
Make sure you get it to the vet immediately to get some tests run on your pet if you believe it is not eating or drinking properly.
In the case that your pet rabbit is making noises you have never heard it make before, your bunny could be nearing the end of its life.
If your pet bunny is breathing more heavily, slowly, or quickly, you should bring it to the vet right away. This is one sign that death is knocking on your rabbit’s door, especially if you also notice other signs mentioned here, but it can also indicate your bunny has an infection in its airway.
When your pet rabbit is not able to stand up or walk in a normal fashion, it is a clear sign something major is going on. If you do not suspect that arthritis is the cause, and if your pet is not particularly overweight, you should bring it to the vet to find out what is going on.
As with any living thing, if your pet is less responsive to you or other stimuli, it is most likely very weak or not completely conscious. Get your pet to the vet as soon as possible to determine the cause for its lack of movement.
If you notice that there is less feces in your pet’s enclosure, your rabbit might be having some issues relieving itself adequately. This is another sign the end may be near for your furry friend.
The most likely culprit for your pet rabbit not moving but still breathing is something that is not serious and common in all bunnies. However, there could be a more urgent reason for an immobile pet rabbit, which is why identifying the cause is important.
Always remember that euthanasia is sometimes the most humane course of action. Your vet can, of course, assist you in making this painful decision based on your rabbit’s health.
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.