Rabbits are very adorable and loving animals, and this is one of the reasons that many individuals and families get them as pets. They have a great personality and are cute, plus it is easy for their owners to bond with them. If you have a rabbit that loves you and the home and comfort that you provide for it, you will be gratified to see your rabbit show you signs that it is happy whenever it sees you.
Do Rabbits Get Depressed?
However, despite their great personalities, rabbits get depressed. Even though rabbits do not have most of the mental problems that we have as humans, they experience some emotions, sadness included. If you notice that your rabbit is seemingly down and is not its usual self, then it may be suffering from depression.
Reasons Why Your Rabbit May Be Suffering From Depression
If you suspect that your rabbit is depressed, you may want to know the reason why this is the case. There are various reasons for depression in rabbits, and some of them include:
Sometimes, as human beings, our mood changes with the weather and so, you might find that on sunny and bright days, you feel happy and will be in high spirits. Conversely, on dark days during winter, you may feel down.
It is not very different for rabbits, as they also get depressed due to seasonal changes. While this is not the case for all rabbits, your pet may be one of those who suffer from behavioral changes relating to the season.
You will notice that by the time spring rolls around, your rabbit will be feeling better. However, there are things that you can do to help your pet get rid of the blues during this period.
For instance, on dark, cold days, it would help if you placed a light that mimes the warmth and brightness of natural light inside your rabbit’s cage. Also, try to give your pet lots of attention during this period.
The Loss Of A Loved One
Rabbit owners should get another bunny as a companion for their pets since rabbits are sociable animals and would love the companionship that another animal provides. If two bunnies have lived together for a long time, and then one of them dies, the other would mourn the loss of its companion.
You will find that your remaining rabbit would look for its companion for some time. Once it understands that the other bunny is not coming back, your rabbit may fall into depression. It may also exhibit loss of appetite as a part of its grieving process. Allow your rabbit enough time to mourn its companion, and give it lots of attention and affection during this period.
Also, to avoid your rabbit becoming underweight during this period, you may give it some treats in the form of suitable veggies and fruits. Rabbits love treats, and so your rabbit may want to eat some if it does not eat its usual food. However, be careful not to overfeed it with the treats.
Rabbits are living things, and so, from time to time, yours may fall sick. Various illnesses may affect rabbits and make them depressed and different from their usual rambunctious selves. One of these illnesses is a flystrike in which flies surround the anus of the rabbit and lay eggs there.
Another one is hairballs, in which the hairs ingested by the animal during the process of grooming itself causes a blockage in its intestines.
Again, your rabbit may be suffering from overgrown teeth. Rabbits’ teeth grow very fast, which is why fibre is an essential part of their diet as it helps to wear their teeth, among other things.
If a rabbit is not given enough fibre, its teeth may become overgrown, and may puncture its tongue and cheek, causing the animal pain. Other illnesses that may affect a rabbit and cause depression include snuffles, uterine tumors, and rabbit hemorrhagic disease virus.
Malnutrition has awful effects on rabbits, with the effects ranging from lethargy to depression. Rabbits require a good amount of quality hay (more than 80%) as their main diet. It helps their gut function, and also helps them to wear down their teeth, preventing overgrown teeth.
Good hay for rabbits include Timothy hay, Oat hay, Brome, and you can even give your pet some fresh grass. Alongside hay, you can give treats in the form of fruits and vegetables to your rabbit.
Fruits that are suitable for rabbits to consume include oranges, watermelons, apples without the seeds, pineapple, plum, cherries without the seeds, bananas, peach, blueberries, cranberries, strawberries, etc. Some vegetables that you can safely feed to your rabbit include lettuce, fennels, wheatgrass, Brussels sprouts, cucumber, zucchini, and carrot, among others.
Inadequate Housing Conditions
For your rabbit to be happy, it needs a suitable cage or hutch. Its hutch needs to be large enough for it to comfortably sit up, lay down, and move around. Apart from the animal’s hutch being large, it should also be clean.
A dirty hutch will increase the chances of a rabbit getting a disease. It would help if you got a litter box in which your rabbit will go to release wastes and ensure that you clean the box often too.
You can use diluted vinegar (50% water and 50% vinegar) to clean your pet’s cage as often as possible. It is also a great idea to get a large run for your rabbit so it can exercise and play in it.
Like humans, rabbits can become bored when left on their own for long periods. This is why it is recommended that as a rabbit owner, you get another rabbit, preferably one of the same specie with your pet to keep it company.
If you have only one rabbit, you must make out quality time, at least two hours every day to play with the animal and allow it to exercise by running around the yard, under supervision. Even if you have two rabbits, it is still necessary that you bond with them by creating time every day to play with them.
Neutering Or Spaying
It is important that rabbit owners neuter or spay their pets if they do not want to breed them. Rabbits breed very fast, and a single doe can produce up to 200 kits in a single year. Apart from preventing breeding, neutering your rabbit helps to prevent aggression in a rabbit, increases its health by reducing the risk of health problems, and also increases the animal’s lifespan.
If you neuter your rabbit, the animal may go through a period of depression, which can last for weeks. Depression after spaying or neutering is normal, and so you should not be alarmed.
The animal will exhibit signs of depression, including appetite loss, lethargy, reduced activity, and others. You should watch your pet for up to one month. If the signs of depression do not go away, you may need to take the animal back to your vet. Sometimes, the wounds from neutering an animal may not heal properly, and so, it could be that it is pain that is causing your rabbit’s depression.
Owning a rabbit means that you are responsible for the animal’s well-being, including its happiness. While some causes of depression in rabbits such as neutering and seasonal changes cannot be avoided, others can. There are several things you can do to make your rabbit happy again if it appears sad. You could give the animal treats, although moderately, especially if it is having a loss of appetite.
Also, ensure that you spend time with your pet and play with it so that it will not be boring. If you suspect that it is an illness causing the depression in your rabbit, take the animal to your vet for treatment and as a preventive measure, practice sanitary conditions so that the chances of your rabbit contracting a disease will be slim.
Try to avoid anything that would make your rabbit become sad and always keep an eye on the animal to detect any signs of depression in it so that you can deal with it.