It’s really difficult to tell if a rabbit is ill or suffering. It’s not much use to look at its face: it won’t usually show pain or misery in its facial expression (Leach et al. 2009). Indeed rabbits often hide all signs of pain in the presence of predators (who would otherwise eat them) and this may include their owners (AHWLA 2013). They do not usually howl or whimper (Harcourt-Brown 2002) though in extremis a wild rabbit may scream. These are signs that your rabbit needs veterinary attention.
AHWLA (2013), “What about other species?’ Assessing the Health and Welfare of Laboratory Animals. Available at www.ahwla.org.uk/site/tutorials/RP/RP10-Other2.html Accessed February 27 2013.
Farnworth, M. J., Walker, J. K., Schweizer, K. A., Chuang, C-L., Guild, S-J., Barret, C.J., Leach, M. C. & Waran N. K., (2011), ‘Potential behavioural indicators of post-operative pain in male laboratory rabbits following abdominal surgery,’ Animal Welfare, 20, 225-237.
Harcourt-Brown, F., (2002), Textbook of Rabbit Medicine, Oxford, UK, Butterworth-Heinemann.
Leach, M. C. Allweiler, S., Richardson, C., Roughan, J. V., Narbe, R. & Flecknell, P. A., (2009), ‘Behavioural effects of ovariohysterectomy and oral administration of meloxicam in laboratory housed rabbit,’ Research in Veterinary Science, 87, 336-347 Abstract Only.
Mancinelli, E., Keeble, E., Richardson, J. & Hedley, J., (2014), ‘Husbandry rusk factors associated with hock pododermatitis in UK pet rabbits (Orcolagus cuniculus)‘, Veterinary Record, 174, 429
These notes are my copyright. I am also usually happy to have the exact words reproduced on websites, in return for a link, my name, and if permission is asked beforehand. I like to check the websites where it might be used. Email me via this website for permission which will usually be given. Organisations wishing to use them in print should contact me via this website. Copyright © 2007 Celia Haddon. All Rights Reserved.
All normal safety precautions should be taken when dealing with animals. The advice in this section should be taken only at the owner’s own risk. All sick animals should be seen by a vet.
General advice of the kind found in this website is no substitute for an individual consultation with a vet or qualified behaviourist working on a vet’s referral.