One of the many responsibilities rabbit owners have is understanding the behavior of their pet rabbit. One of the most typical behaviors owners encounter is a rabbit shaking or trembling, which makes many people uneasy. 

As a rabbit owner, you may be wondering why your rabbit shakes and when does it become a cause for alarm? 

In this article, we’ll go over the many causes of shaking as well as the symptoms you should be aware of. You’ll know whether your rabbit’s shaking is normal or whether there’s an underlying medical concern that requires veterinary attention after this article.

Why is my rabbit shaking infographic

 

Why Is My Rabbit Shaking? 

Rabbits communicate using body language. Shaking is usually a warning that something is wrong. While shaking and trembling can be attributed to happiness or hiccups in certain situations, shaking should be regarded seriously in the majority of cases.

Your Rabbit May Be Frightened 

It is natural for a rabbit to shake when it is afraid or scared. It’s simple to tell if your pet rabbit is frightened by observing its body language. A terrified rabbit’s nose will frequently vibrate alongside the shaking.

Rabbits are afraid for a variety of reasons. As prey animals, rabbits are easily spooked. Loud noises, large shapes, and quick movements, in particular, can be frightening. 

Here are a few possible causes for your pet bunny’s shaking and fearful behavior:

A change in our rabbit’s environment might cause it to become nervous or terrified. If you’ve only recently brought your rabbit home, it might be longing for its prior surroundings.

Some rabbits who are accustomed to living alone may be afraid of other rabbits or pets, and hence get quickly scared in their company.

Your Rabbit Might Be Stressed

Some rabbits may become stressed as a result of an unneutered or unspayed rabbit trying to mount it. It is worth noting that this isn’t always a mate-seeking endeavor. It could be a display of dominance that is quite stressful to your rabbit.

Rabbits that have been stressed for a long time are more prone to twitch, quiver, or shake. Rabbits’ side swaying and head bobbing are often signs of high stress. Shaking may be a self-soothing function in anxious and stressed rabbits, according to some specialists.

A rabbit that is constantly stressed is more prone to illness.

 

Why Is My Rabbit Shaking Its Head?

As previously mentioned, shaking in rabbits could indicate a significant health problem. Let’s have a look at the various underlying issues that your rabbit could be suffering from.

Ear Mites

Ear mites irritate the ear canal of your pet rabbit. Ear mites are known for making a rabbit’s head shake incessantly. They can cause irritation and pain to your beloved pet rabbit. 

Additional signs of rabbit ear mites may include:

  • Ear scratching on a regular basis
  • Inflammation to the inner ear with the ear canals clogged with a thick crust. 
  • Lesions can extend to the face, neck, abdomen, and forelimbs in severe cases.

Fur Mites

Rabbits are prone to fur mites, sometimes known as walking dandruff. The back and neck of your rabbit are the most commonly affected areas. Fur mites can seem like dust on your rabbit’s fur. Signs of fur mites include:

  • Head shaking
  • Dandruff patches or dry and flaky skin
  • Excessive grooming and scratching of the affected area
  • Hair loss 

Burrowing Mites

Burrowing mites or skin mites live on or in your rabbit’s skin and lay their eggs in the burrowed area. The larvae hatch and thrive on the body of your rabbit. Mites can lay up to five eggs at a time, and this can happen in as little as two weeks.

If your rabbit has been afflicted with burrowing mites, you will notice white dust on its fur. Signs to look for are as follows:

  • Head shaking
  • Alopecia (hair loss)
  • Mange
  • Open or crusty wounds around the mouth, nose, head, and neck

Burrowing mites are incredibly distressing for your pet rabbit. If left untreated, a severe infestation could be fatal.

Ear Infections

Rabbits can have ear infections of various levels of severity. The levels of severity are categorized as external, inner, and middle ear infections. Each infection category has common symptoms every owner should be aware of.

Ear infections are most commonly caused by ear mites or a buildup of wax in the inner ear. The following are symptoms of ear infections:

  • A shake of the head
  • Shaking of the ears
  • Head tilting

Severe symptoms include:

  • Facial paralysis
  • Discharge from the ear
  • Anorexia
  • Facial swelling

If your rabbit is shaking its head more than usual and you think it’s not normal, seek medical assistance immediately. Your rabbit’s shaking head is a sign of a serious medical issue that should not be completely disregarded.

rabbit

 

Why Is My Rabbit Shaking and Lying Down?

Your rabbit may be suffering from gastrointestinal stasis or GI stasis if it is laying on its side and shaking. GI stasis is a potentially fatal condition in which the digestive system slows down. When this occurs, any food caught along the gastrointestinal tract causes obstructions in the gut.

Essentially, your rabbit’s digestive system isn’t working properly. Your rabbit’s digestive system has come to a standstill. Your rabbit will likely recover if the symptoms are recognized early enough. 

Gastrointestinal Stasis Symptoms to look out for are:

  • No appetite, your rabbit stops eating.
  • Either no feces, diarrhea, or mushy feces. Rabbits’ diarrhea is never normal. If you notice this, it’s a symptom that their digestion isn’t working properly.
  • Shaking and laying down, or hunched posture. When rabbits are in pain, they frequently assume this stance, especially if the pain is emanating from their gut.
  • Lack of energy Your rabbit is experiencing stasis if they are full of energy yet are just sitting and afraid to move.

GI stasis can prove fatal should you wait for the symptoms to pass. Always seek immediate medical assistance if you suspect your bunny has GI stasis.

 

Why Does My Rabbit Shake When It Is Hot?

Most rabbit breeds are far better at dealing with cold weather than with excessive heat. Rabbits, on the other hand, are more inclined to overheat more than any other house pets. You’ll need to take extra care to keep your furry friend cool during the warmer months. 

Rabbits will become distressed if the temperature rises between 80 – 85 degrees Fahrenheit. A rabbit can suffer from heatstroke or from heat exhaustion on hot days.

Heat Exhaustion Symptoms

Symptoms to look out for are as follows:

  • Lips, tongues, and ears are all blue.
  • Heart and breathing rates have increased.
  • Mouths and noses that are wet
  • Their mouths emitted frothy, blood-tinged secretions.
  • Heavy panting

Heat Stroke Symptoms

Symptoms to look out for are as follows:

  • Excessive drooling
  • Panting and taking shallow, short breaths
  • Lethargy
  • Redness and warmth in the ears
  • Wetness on the bridge of the nose
  • Convulsions

Rabbits, unfortunately, are unable to regulate their body temperature by sweating. For temperature regulation, rabbits rely heavily on vasodilation which is the dilation of blood vessels surrounding their ears in particular. This is why your bunny shakes its ears while shaking its head.

Rabbits use their ears or heads to regulate their core temperature when they become warm while sprinting. Heatstroke is a serious issue that needs to be addressed. Your rabbit may develop convulsions and die if not treated.  

How To Treat Heat Stroke

If your rabbit is showing indications of heatstroke, your first priority should be to cool it down. An outdoor rabbit should be brought inside as soon as possible and kept in a cool, comfortable environment. 

Near your rabbit, place a cold compress, a pillow, and a damp sheet. If the heat bothers your rabbit, it will seek out cooler objects or surfaces to relieve the discomfort.

 

Why Is My Rabbit Shaking After Eating Plants?

There are many household and outdoor plants and herbs that are poisonous to rabbits. If your pet rabbit is not treated quickly, it could be lethal. 

Poisoning symptoms are severe and quite distressing. If your rabbit has eaten any toxic plants, the first symptom to look out for is lying on its side and shaking. Take your rabbit to the veterinarian immediately.

Additional symptoms include:

  • Convulsions and or seizures
  • Digestive indications of intestinal infection
  • Loss of body temperature regulation – high/low temperatures
  • Lethargy
  • Loss of appetite

A complete list of plants that are harmful to your rabbit may be found here.

brown rabbit

 

Frequently Asked Questions

Are Muscle Spasms in Rabbits Normal?

Spasms are not normal in rabbits and are an indication of an underlying illness. If your rabbit is experiencing muscle spasms, contact your veterinarian right away. Rabbit spasms are frequently a symptom of two life-threatening diseases in rabbits namely head tilt and Viral Hemorrhagic Disease in rabbits.

Why Does My Rabbit Shake When It Has Hiccups?

Rabbit hiccups are rapid and continuous, and they’re frequently mistaken for seizures. Hiccups are a common occurrence in young rabbits. These are common in babies aged 2 weeks and younger, especially after they have eaten. They will normally go away on their own and are not harmful.

 

Final Word

While rabbits’ shaking is normal, if it is accompanied by severe symptoms such as lethargy, head tilting, or other symptoms, you should seek medical assistance right away.

Some symptoms could indicate major underlying medical problems that could be fatal to your pet rabbit. If you have any doubts, consult your veterinarian to determine whether your rabbit is happy and healthy or needs assistance.

 

 

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Sarah Logan

Sarah Logan is the Editor here at The Bunny Hub. Sarah is a long-time bunny lover having kept pet rabbits since early childhood. With over 35 years of experience caring for fluffy-tailed, lop-eared friends, Sarah wanted to create a space dedicated to providing expert advice on not only general care, but proper nutrition, and, the best products and accessories every serious owner needs. Here you will find everything you need to make informed decisions in all aspects of becoming a proud rabbit owner. We do all the hard work for you. We research and test out the latest products, then we tell you about our discoveries. From choosing the right breed of bunny for your family, to making purchases you won’t regret for the important things like a hutch for your fur baby to live in. We’re here to make sure you have all the information you need to give your bunny and happy and healthy life.

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