It’s natural for prey animals to hide illness or pain so by the time you realize your rabbit is sick, it may be almost too late – DO NOT WAIT, take immediate action! Symptoms often include one or more of the following:
- loud teeth grinding
- sitting hunched up,
- laying with tummy pressed against the floor,
- unsocial behaviour – hiding in a corner refusing to come out,
- refusing treats or favourite foods,
- not eating,
- not drinking,
- acting lethargic,
- aggression (towards you or his bonded mate),
- any odd behaviour that seems “off”
Know Your Rabbit’s Poop
Nothing gets a bun-mom as excited as her bun’s first poop after illness or surgery. Your bun’s poop is the best way to monitor his health. Rabbits have 2 types of stools – the normal round ones that they drop any- and everywhere, and caecotrophes (grapelike, squishy poo that they eat from their bum). Both are normal and it is important to know what they should look like. Caecotrophes are rarely seen (because your bun eats them), but when they are left behind or they are leaving marks on the floor, you may need to adjust bunny’s food.
Caecotrophes are often mistaken for diarrhea but real diarrhea is very rare in rabbits. It can be fatal. Healthy normal droppings should be: not to hard, not too soft, not too dark (darkness indicates lack of fiber/hay), not too small and perfect round/egg shaped, also not stringed together with hair. Poops that are stringed together indicates that you need to groom your rabbit more frequently to prevent excess hair from being digested.
NO POOP = VET EMERGENCY!
CAECOTROPHES (first 2 images above) – THESE ARE NORMAL AND HEALTHY
This is what caecotrophes look like – yes, they need to eat these straight from their bum for nutrients. Normally you barely see them, but if you do…don’t freak out. If your bun leaves excess caecotrophes behind, it could mean he is eating food that is too rich, or is getting overweight and can’t reach to eat them. This is fine in the short term but if prolonged, your bunny will lose out on vital nutrients.
CAECALS (third image above) – THESE ARE NORMAL AND HEALTHY
These should be plentiful, large, perfectly round balls (or slightly egg-shaped if really large). They should consist mainly of damp/dry hay/grass particles and shouldn’t contain a lot of fur. They should be soft enough to squash easily between your fingers
SMALL/HARD/STICKY POOP (first image above) – NOT SO HEALTHY
Dark, sticky poops indicate a lack of fibre. Feed more hay and cut down on other foods. Poops that are small and hard are a warning sign that your bunny’s digestion is not working well enough and that your bunny is at risk of GI stasis. Call the vet immediately and bring a poop sample with you.
STRINGY POOP (second image above) – NOT SO HEALTHY
You need to help your bun digest less hair by grooming him more. Dampen your hands and slide gently over your bun’s body while collecting loose hair. Rubber kitchen gloves also work like a charm. Poops that look like this can send your bun into GI stasis if not attended to.
DISCLAIMER: The advice given above is not meant to replace proper vet care. We are not medical professionals – we have compiled this list of guidelines to keep your rabbit comfortable and as pain free as possible until you are able to visit a proper rabbit savvy vet (see our vet list).
Photo (top): Iván C. Fajardo / Unsplash