Stress in Rabbits: Causes, Symptoms and Solutions

When you spoil your rabbit, it seems hard to think that he can be bad and suffer from stress. From our human point of view, there is nothing obvious about understanding life in terms of our little furry balls. Rabbits are also very sensitive to stress because they are naturally anxious. And even if the life you offer them is comfortable, your rabbit may be stressed. We summarize what this stress can cause, how it manifests itself, and what solutions are available to you to prevent stress or relieve your rabbit.

Causes of Stress in Rabbits

A rabbit, even a domesticated one, has the instincts of a wild animal. Thus, the first cause of stress in rabbits is lack of space. A rabbit, no matter how small he may be, does not like life constantly spent in a cage. Even if the selection has resulted in rabbits that are more tolerant of life in captivity, their instincts remain very strong. These are animals that also need to be stimulated in order to overcome boredom. The lack of play and the scarcity of the environment are stressors in and of themselves.

Rabbits are animals that naturally live in groups. loneliness does not benefit him and increases his stress. In group life, animals can rely on the fact that there is always a member of the group who is watching and can warn of possible danger. Alone, the rabbit can only rely on itself and finds few opportunities to lower its guard. 60% of rabbit owners believe that the emotional bond they create with their pet will be enough. But nothing beats communicating with companions who speak the same language as you and have the same problems. However, if the rabbit is used to living alone, the introduction of a companion cannot be carried out anyhow.

In the wild, rabbits are prey. Therefore, he must be constantly reassured, in particular, by offering him the most stable environment. It is not a soft toy that can be manipulated at will. Belonging too frequent intrusions therefore, in his cell are the main source of stress, as well as the environment, which changes too often. Finally, mistreatment is also a cause of stress.

All good breeders adopt a behavior that is appropriate for the rabbits they raise. But some unscrupulous structures separate the cubs from their mother long before weaning. This leads to prolonged anxiety in the rabbit, which keeps the repetitive stress.

Symptoms of stress in rabbits

Rabbits express themselves a lot through their bodies. In addition, a stressed rabbit is fairly quickly identified: it is a rabbit that maintains a lying position for a long time, its legs are tucked under it, its ears are pressed to its back, its eyes are bulging, its breathing is short and intermittent.

In a panic, the rabbit may behave dangerously to itself. He can resist and fall, for example, causing irreparable damage to his spine. He may also go into cardiac arrest and die of fright.

But this is not the only possible manifestation of stress in rabbits. It can also be expressed through behavioral problems for example, pulling out hair, stopping grooming or eating. Rabbits may also gnaw on the bars of their cage.

In addition, metabolism modifies its functioning, in particular, under the influence of cortisol. Rabbit urine changes color when stressed, becoming an orange-brown color as its stress metabolism triggers the release of dark red pigments called porphyrins.

Rabbits can also get sick. Like humans, stress causes intestinal disorders presents with acute constipation or severe diarrhea. Moreover, stress weakens the immune defense mechanisms, making the body more vulnerable to viruses, germs and bacteria.

A pregnant woman can develop anorexia, resulting in malformed, premature, or stillborn babies.

What solutions are there to not stress or stress a rabbit?

If you see any signs that repeat the list we have listed above, don’t put off a visit to the vet. All of these signs are not symptoms of stress, and a professional’s opinion will be helpful in making the right diagnosis and acting in the right direction for your pet.

Accommodate two rabbits it is a solution that helps reduce the stress of your animals because they will soothe each other. Obviously, attention should be paid to the ease of breeding rabbits. If you want to keep rabbits of different sexes, spaying is necessary, if not required. Otherwise, you will quickly find yourself at the head of breeding, having to take care of the children until they are weaned, and then have difficulty in placing them. If you do not wish to spay your pets, be sure to include the gender of the pets you are adopting. Talk to breeders. Although the purchase price may be slightly higher, you will be sure of the gender of your animals.

Gift to your pets from space. Choose a good sized cage. It is not for them to suffer because you have little housing! Read the documents published by the Swiss Society for the Protection of Animals. They indicate much more generous sizes than what you can find in many sources.

But space is not everything. It has to be rich: rich in things to chew on, hanging toys, hiding places, tunnels to sneak through… Everything is good for keeping your little furry clumps physically and mentally occupied. For hygiene and safety reasons, always choose wood over plastic, paper, or cardboard. Research has shown it: Rabbits stimulated are less sick and have fewer behavioral problems.

Once you’ve introduced your rabbits to your presence and surroundings, give them plenty of time outside of the cage. Physical activity is the perfect antidote to stress.

Also respect your rabbits. Do not disturb them while resting and call them only when they are active and available. If they show a bad mood, respect the situation and leave them alone. Do not force manipulations and do not tighten them excessively. All rabbits are different and have their own personalities: if your rabbit is not affectionate, accept it!

You will also limit stressful situations by constantly playing soft music or moderate background noise, which can reduce the perception of loud and sudden sounds, such as a falling object or slamming a door. The cage, of course, should be placed in a quiet area of ​​your home, but not insulated.

Finally, you must keep in mind that the rabbit booty, which is more brittle. When you pick him up, alert him by carefully approaching him and calling his name, and always support him from below. And make sure he never falls from a height.

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