Rabbit Mortality: How Do Rabbits Act Before They Die?

It is the cycle of life; all living things must meet their end and bunnies are no exception. Regardless, to ensure a long and healthy life for our pets, we must give them all the love and care they deserve. This will somehow make the pain of losing them bearable.

The life expectancy of domesticated rabbits is between eight to twelve years. There are several causes of death in rabbits, ranging from injury, heart-attack, anorexia, GI stasis, fly-strike, to swallowing objects. These factors can lead to the sudden death of rabbits. Most times, they are unavoidable, other times, it’s because of negligence. If your bunny can survive these dreadful phases, it can live to old age and die naturally.

To ensure that your bunny gets a full life, here are the signs to look out for;


If you notice an increasing level of inactivity in your rabbit; a refusal to socialise with you or other animals, especially when the reverse is the case, it is a clear sign that something is wrong. This could just be a reaction to stress or loud noises, or maybe your bunny is ill or nearing death.

A rabbit might isolate itself because of loneliness. The lack of social interaction causes them to be disinterested, avoiding all forms of sustenance, to the point of death.

Shortness Of Breath

If you notice your bunny having a hard time breathing, something is definitely wrong. Rabbits are not loud breathers, so when they wheeze continuously, sneeze or gasp for breath you have to pay close attention to their health. If it persists, your next visit should be to the doctor’s office.

Limps/Restricted Movements Caused By Injury

This is a dead give-away, no pun intended. When you notice your rabbit is limping, it could mean that it is injured; it could be a broken bone. If it squirms whenever you touch it or try to lift it up, it might have hurt itself while playing or worse, was attacked by a predator.


Rabbit Mortality: How Do Rabbits Act Before They Die?


Act fast; rabbits have really delicate spines. If you see an outright injury-a cut can be treated easily but severe ones have to be taken to the hospital.

Loss Of Appetite

If you notice your rabbit has stopped eating, it could be a sign of GI (gastrointestinal) stasis. This can cause death if ignored. As soon as you notice this sudden change in appetite, visit the doctor.

Rabbits love chewing.

Rabbits have really large digestive tracts so they can consume a lot of food, sometimes non-food particles which can be harmful to them. You have to always ensure the surrounding of your bunny is hazard free to avoid incidents like swallowing harmful objects.

Symptoms Of Diarrhoea

This could be in the form of consistent watery faeces. This is a serious and fatal condition. It should not be ignored. Foods rich in starch and sugar can cause diarrhoea in rabbits if fed in excess.

Eggs And Maggots In Their Furs

If you notice eggs and maggots in the fur of your bunny, it is probably myasis. This is caused by flies laying eggs on the rabbit fur. It is deadly and should not be ignored.

Abnormal Temperature And Heart Attack

Checking the temperature of your rabbit is important. The normal temperature of a rabbit is 100-104 °F and their heart rate should be between 180 – 250 beats per minute.

Should Rabbits Live Outside?

Rabbits can suffer from heart attacks due to fright or shock from predators, falls and accidents. The rabbit can die within a day from a heart attack. When they go very still after a sudden scream, they might be having a heart attack.

Constant Groans/Squeals/Squeaks/Screaming

When they are in pain, rabbits may make high-pitched noises or clear screams. If they are near death and experiencing body pains, they might scream.


This is an obvious sign your rabbit is near death. It may jerk, shake or convulse out of fright or shiver even in a heat weather, during this period.

Swollen Faces/Drooling

If your rabbit has a swollen face, it could be as a result of constant drooling. Facial swelling can be caused by an abscess in the mouth of the rabbit formed by bacteria. In severe cases, facial swelling can be an indication of myxomatosis, and sadly it is fatal.

Abnormal Urine And Faeces

Abnormal urine and faeces colour, smell or shape could be a sign your bunny is sick or dying

If you notice any of these signs in your bunny, you have to act fast. Make sure you take them to the veterinarian. The doctor might be able to give aid. And when all options have been explored, you can just sit patiently with your rabbit and wait for the end.

Call up all those who would like to say goodbye and keep your bunny as comfortable as possible. That’s all you can do now. It is heart-breaking to lose a pet, but spending time with them, reminiscing on the moments shared can make it easier to bear the loss.