My Rabbit Died Suddenly. (Reasons+Prevention)

Every owner wants their rabbits to have a long, healthy life span. However, sometimes, some events make us upset. Of course, the efforts of a loving and responsible owner are necessary for a healthy rabbit, but the unexpected demise of a rabbit is distressing. So, why rabbits died suddenly? What are the causes behind this? How can we prevent a rabbit from dying? Let’s find out all your answers in this article.

The common cause of a rabbit’s sudden death is GI stasis. Loss of appetite, screaming, sluggish behaviour, and decreased fecal production are signs that your rabbit is about to die. Consider consulting the veterinarian immediately when identifying these signs to ensure your rabbit’s well-being.

This article will briefly discuss other reasons for a rabbit’s death and how we can prevent this type of situation. So let’s get into it.

Why my rabbit died suddenly?

Rabbits are delicate creatures that require special care. Unfortunately, numerous factors may contribute to a rabbit’s upsetting and unexpected death.

Loud noises such as screaming, car horns, loud music, or the noise of a cat or dog can lead to a stressful situation for a rabbit that causes a heart attack.

A rabbit won’t often die immediately after listening to these noises. 

Instead, they will usually take a day or two or even longer, which indicates sudden death for no apparent reason.

It is advisable to keep the children away from your rabbit if they are under 12 years old.

A child’s scream can scare your rabbit off, which causes heart attacks.

Similarly, giving rabbits to children can be life-threatening because a rabbit will attempt to jump away if it is picked up by a child and will fall.

In addition, this could break the rabbit’s spine or neck because they are small and delicate animals.

Also, it is challenging to estimate a rabbit’s age. 

The dishonest vendors might sell older rabbits for the same price as younger ones.

Older rabbits don’t adjust well to sudden changes in their surroundings and can pass away unexpectedly in their new house.

Knowing how to take care of a rabbit is essential to ensure it lives a long and fulfilling life.

Speak with the pet store owner and your near-local veterinarian, and do some research before adopting or buying your first rabbit.

Although rabbits are delicate creatures, they live longer, up to 8 to 12 years.

However, nowadays, domestic rabbits have a healthy life span of up to 14 and sometimes 16 years if you take care of them properly and keep them healthy and happy.

How do rabbits act before they die?

Losing a pet will deeply hurt any owner with a close relationship with their rabbit.

However, due to their relatively short lifespans and the fact that it is a natural process, rabbits will probably pass away before humans.

It could be challenging to determine whether the condition be treated or whether something lethal could happen to life-threatening issues.

But, the likelihood of saving your rabbit increases if you recognize the early signs of serious illness. 

Even if there is nothing to do for your rabbit to save them, you may at least ensure that they are not in pain or don’t suffer.

So, here are some symptoms of how a rabbit act before they die:

1) Loss of appetite

The first indication that your rabbit is dying is when they stop eating its food.

In addition, if they start refusing their favorite treat like banana, it is a bad sign that something is wrong with your rabbit.

Pay attention to your rabbit’s behavior during breakfast, lunch, or dinner. Ensure that your pet is eating well or not.

Rabbits are food lovers, but if they start refusing it, there is something terrible sign.

They consume unlimited hay and a small number of veggies and leaves continuously to maintain their intestines strong and in control.

In addition, rabbits must continue feeding to keep their stomach functioning and making faces and caecotrophs to stay healthy. 

So, loss in appetite can cause GI stasis, which is fatal and could stop the gut system if not treated on time.

Also, reduced appetite can sometimes be brought on by gut stasis and a side effect of not eating.

Many other reasons, like infection, stress, pain, or bad teeth, could also make a rabbit lose its appetite.

Also read: Why Is My Rabbit Not Eating?

2) Stop drinking

All rabbits require to drink water. However, every rabbit has a different personality.

Some rabbits prefer to drink water from water bowls, while others may choose it from water bottles.

However, if you give them water and they refuse it, they are most likely dying and won’t take anything.

But if you identify the issue sooner rather than later, you may have some time to address it.

Particularly in warm temperatures, dehydration in rabbits can occur quickly and be lethal.

So, it is essential to contact your nearby veterinarian if your rabbit stops drinking its water.

3) Difficulty in breathing

It’s a bad sign if you notice that a rabbit has difficulty breathing.

If your rabbit’s breathing is slow or faster than usual, or they are trying to breathe from its open mouth and making noises, it means they are ill and requires immediate treatment.

In addition, don’t wait to monitor your rabbit’s breathing issues. 

Immediately call the vet because rabbits are susceptible to a transmitted infection known as snuffles, which can be highly serious.

The ideal breathing rate of a healthy rabbit should be 30 to 60 breaths per minute.

The rabbit’s respiration is changed just before death, decreasing what is known as death row.

The rabbits’ breathing will become irregular and lower, which may cause trembles or get jaw rigidity.

If it reaches this stage, it is crucial to be on the rabbit’s side.

4) Unable to move or lethargic

If your rabbit is not moving and staying in its position for soo long or moving very slowly or minor, this indicates a severe issue.

If you discover that your rabbit’s back legs are now completely immobile, like they are just limping, this indicates something is wrong, and you need to consult the vet.

Such behavior would be very different from what a healthy rabbit usually does, like running, hopping, thinking, or exploring things around.

This condition may occur because they are dehydrated or in shock if they are weak and unable to stand.

If a rabbit stops moving, it signifies that it is unable to get its food and water, which makes them unable to stay warm.

In addition, it could also be possible that they are suffering from low blood sugar or low body temperature.

5) Jerking motions or spasms

Spasms can sometimes occur just before a rabbit dies after experiencing GI stasis, which will be shocking both for the rabbit and its owner.

When this occurs, do not cage your rabbit because they can cause harm to themselves.

Provide a comfortable room where they can rest on the bed or the rug.

Also, avoid sharp objects or other things like tables or chairs near them so they don’t bump into them and get themselves hurt.

6) Stop producing feces

A decreased fecal production is likewise a very alarming symptom in a rabbit since it indicates GI stasis or gut stasis.

Within 24 hours, if your rabbit stops making as many droppings, as usual, it could become ill.

This condition refers to an emergency that requires an immediate visit to a rabbit-savvy vet.

The food and hair your rabbit has swallowed might lodge anywhere along the GI tract due to an intestinal slowdown, potentially resulting in a blockage.

7) Change in body temperature and heartbeat

Vital indicators will change when rabbits become ill and start to decline.

Typical outcomes include a weak pulse, low body temperature, and fast breathing.

A rabbit’s ideal body temperature should be between 100 to 104 degrees Fahrenheit ( 37 to 40 degrees Celsius).

The heart rate of an average healthy rabbit should be between 180 and 250 beats per minute.

Using a timer and precise counting will allow you to monitor your rabbit’s breathing and heart rates.

Also, a baby thermometer and vaseline will allow you to take your rabbit’s body temperature.

However, if you are uncomfortable doing this at home, you should ask for expert help or can go to the vet for a body temperature checkup.

Also read: Can Rabbits Be In Air Conditioning?

8) Screaming

Rabbits are not vocalists like cats and dogs, which means screaming is unusual for them.

So, for them, screaming is something horrific that must have happened to them.

This condition could also indicate that they are in pain, have recently experienced a heart attack, or a predator has attacked them.

What are the reasons behind my rabbit’s sudden death?

There can be numerous reasons behind your rabbit’s sudden death.

Rabbits are prey animals and usually don’t show their sufferings to hide their weakness, which makes the underlying issues worse.

However, you can keep your rabbit living and developing to its potential if you are thoroughly aware of the causes of unexpected mortality in rabbits.

So, here are some reasons for a rabbit’s sudden death:

1) GI stasis

The GI stasis condition is common and caused by an inappropriate rabbit diet.

However, it can also cause life-threatening issues if not treated on time.

This condition slows down and can even stop the digestive system, making it difficult to move the food particles from a rabbit’s intestines.

It appears very painful as the bacteria in the rabbit’s intestines begin to accumulate and make them feel bloated.

And due to this, a rabbit starts refusing food and water because of their internal pain, which causes life-threatening situations.


To prevent the condition of GI stasis, provide a high amount of fiber in your rabbit’s diet.

The staple diet of a rabbit should include high-fibred hay, a low amount of carbs, and protein.

If you notice sudden behavioral changes in your rabbit, like small or hard poops, bloating, or loss of appetite, immediately contact your vet.

2) Heart attacks

A heart attack could be another reason behind a rabbit’s sudden death.

Rabbits are sensitive and prey creatures. Their heartbeats can even increase with a slight noise.

A rabbit can get a heart attack when they become frightened of something like its predator or sudden loud noise.

Rough handling, interaction with another animal, or the smell of a predator can make a rabbit frightened, which causes sudden death.


To avoid stressful situations, keep the rabbit’s enclosure away from other animals like dogs and cats.

Do not allow children under 12 years to come near or handle your rabbit, as it can make them feel frightened.

In addition, rabbits feel trapped and panic, which could cause a heart attack.

Also, it is essential to low down the sound of the tv or phone in front of your rabbit, as the loud noise can stress them out.

Take your rabbit for regular health checkups every six months, even if your rabbit is healthy.

3) Ingest sharp or toxic objects

Rabbits love to explore and chew on everything. 

However, some of those items have the potential to break apart into sharp fragments that could damage the GI stasis or possibly result in a blockage.

In addition, even though it doesn’t seem sharp, something with an unusual texture or shape can be highly sharp when it comes into contact with a rabbit’s throat and stomach.

Also, ingesting sharp or toxic items like seeds from fruits can cause choking, which may result in sudden death.

Carpet fiber, needles, plastic, cardboard, or bedding can cause blockages in rabbits’ intestines which causes life-threatening issues.


Before releasing your rabbit out to roam freely, always look around for sharp or toxic objects.

In addition, rabbit-proof the area or your entire house where your rabbit can easily reach.

Remove the sharp objects or things that you feel your rabbit can chew. 

4) Heatstroke 

Rabbits contain thick fur coats that protect them in winter. 

However, it could be problematic in summer because it can cause heatstroke, which is a life-threatening condition.

The ideal temperature for a rabbit should be between 55° to 70°F (12° and 21°C).

If the temperature rises above 80° Fahrenheit (26.6° Celsius), it can cause heatstroke.


Rabbits can’t tolerate heat. So, keeping them cool in heat waves is essential to prevent heatstroke.

Provide fresh cold water, ice packs, and a frozen bottle near your rabbit’s enclosure.

In addition, wipe your rabbit’s ear with water, give plenty of shade, and provide air conditioning or a fan to keep a rabbit cool in higher temperatures.

5) Poisoning items

Some items in your household, like indoor plants or food items, can be poisonous for your rabbit and causes death.

Eating leaves and grass is beneficial for your rabbit’s digestive system.

However, some plants, like tomatoes, or aloe, can be toxic for your rabbit if they ingest them.


Keep the indoor plants away from your rabbit’s reach before allowing free-roam to them.

Other food items you should never give your rabbit include chocolates, rice, potatoes, wheat, pasta, garlic, crackers, bread, cereals, walnuts, and many more.

In addition, avoid giving the seeds of any vegetables and fruits to your rabbit. 

Otherwise, it could cause choking, and your rabbit can die.

6) Injury

As prey animals, rabbits usually hide their pain and emotions to avoid their weakness in front of predators.

However, this could become hard to notice the underlying health issue or some severe injury.

Rabbits are gentle creatures. Their bones can easily be injured if they jump from a high surface.

In addition, handling a rabbit to children can cause bone breakages, and they can kick or throw them while picking, which causes severe injury.

Also, if you have more than two rabbits, there can be a possibility of fights which could also cause severe wounds or injuries.

Consequently, a rabbit may pass away from shock caused by a fractured bone or other damage, and we might never be aware of it.


Gently handle your rabbit while picking or petting.

Do not give your rabbit to kids who are under 12 years.

Groom your rabbit regularly so that you can identify the injuries or wounds earlier.

7) Flystrike

This condition is caused by specific flies that get attached themselves to a rabbit’s dirty sensitive skin and lay eggs on it.

The rabbit may not be ingesting the material because of another issue, such as dental infection, obesity, or arthritis, and as a result, the area may collect caecotrophs.

Death of a rabbit may occur before you realize it; as the eggs hatch, the maggots start eating the rabbit’s flesh.

So, it is essential to take your rabbit to the veterinarian immediately if you discover any maggots on it or in its surroundings.


The best approach to stop your rabbit from getting flystrike is to keep them clean and dry.

Regularly check your rabbit’s fur for dampness to keep an eye on their urinating.

Any incontinence of urine will cause the rabbit’s fur to get stained with its urine, which can attract flies.

Frequently asked questions:

Why my baby rabbit died suddenly?

The main reason for rabbits’ sudden death nowadays is GI stasis.

Since rabbits occasionally appear healthy one day before passing away the next, their unexpected demise can be mysterious.

GI stasis, however, is usually the most frequent reason for domestic rabbits’ sudden death because it is caught too late.

Also, sometimes, a rabbit can die if it isn’t adequately hydrated, isn’t eating enough fiber, or is overly terrified of something.

Therefore, providing water bottles, unlimited hay, free-roaming, and a limited amount of sugary treats is essential.

What to do with your rabbit’s body?

Some owners prefer to bury their pet rabbit while other makes cremate. However, it is a personal decision.

Garbage disposal or composting are other options you can do according to your preference.

Also, it is essential to pick up your rabbit’s dead body if gloves.

In addition, do not try to touch your rabbit’s dead body directly if it starts decomposing.

Instead, you should call a dead pet disposal or animal services so that they can take your rabbit’s body.

However, if the death of your rabbit is sudden, then you can gently handle your rabbit’s body by wearing gloves.

What is the average lifespan of a domestic rabbit?

An average lifespan of a European indoor rabbit is 7 to 9 years depending on the breed and the environment where you live.

However, a rabbit can live longer, up to 12 to 14 years, if we properly fulfill their requirements and resources and make them feel happy and safe.

Also, it is essential to have a rabbit-savvy vet, not a dog or cat vet, because it will not be helpful for your rabbit’s health.

What to do if a rabbit is dying?

If your rabbit is relieving itself, drooling, having waterly eyes or mouth, and shutting down its eyes, it is too late to save your rabbit.

At that moment, don’t overwhelm your rabbit. Giving your rabbit some space is essential if it is lying in its position.

Try to give support and love them. Don’t pick or try to carry them at that moment. 

In addition, please keep them in their comfortable position and try to talk sweetly to them.

You can keep them in their favorite spot, where they usually love to sleep, whether in the corner of your house or their little bed.

However, if you have paired your rabbit with another, let another rabbit come near them to say the final goodbye.

You can also consult your vet, that may instruct you on the final steps about administrative liquid or getting a necropsy done.

A necropsy is just like an autopsy, but it is a kind of closure to know the cause of your rabbit’s death. 

However, it is essential to do it within hours. Otherwise, your rabbit’s body will begin decaying.


  1. GI stasis is the common cause of rabbit’s sudden death
  2. A rabbit can die from sudden loud noise, heart attack, or ingesting sharp and toxic objects.
  3. An average lifespan of a rabbit is 7 to 9 years, depending on the breed and the environment where you live.
  4. A rabbit can die if it isn’t adequately hydrated, isn’t eating enough fiber, or is overly terrified of something.
  5. If your rabbit is dead, pick them up by wearing gloves.

Reference: NCBI, NCBI

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