It’s not unusual to find your rabbit shaking, whether due to fright, excitement, or ill-health. For instance, one of a rabbit’s first responses to anxiety or stress is shaking. Sometimes, your rabbit can shake if it’s excited to see you or playing with its companion. However, you have to discern why it shakes because that determines if you should be concerned or not.
Is It Normal Every Time My Rabbit Shakes?
While it’s not unusual to find your rabbit shaking, not all instances should be waved aside. What matters first is to find why it is shaking and solve it if it’s a problem. Generally, rabbits shake due to health issues like gastrointestinal stasis, heatstroke, ear mites, food poisoning, nervousness, hiccups, physical activity/excitement, etc.
Shaking Due To Gastrointestinal Stasis
Gastrointestinal stasis (GI Stasis) is a health complication in which your rabbit’s digestive system slows down its activities because the number of bacteria in it has been changed. It is usually caused by eating too many gaseous foods, poor fiber content in the body, dental diseases, parasitic infections, etc.
The signs of GI stasis are a bloated stomach, loss of appetite and energy, and noticeable pain on your rabbit’s face. Some rabbits can stay hunched in a corner while shaking vigorously. Sometimes, it could also be that your rabbit doesn’t pass out feces, yet it keeps eating.
Once you notice these signs, your rabbit is in danger. If you dilly-dally, it could die anytime soon. The best thing is to take it to a vet doctor for proper treatment. In addition, eliminate foods that contain gas/carbohydrates from your rabbits’ diet. Go for more hay and fiber. Allow your rabbit some out-time for exercise and take away anything it can chew, except food, from its environment.
Shaking After Eating Toxic Foods
Another reason why your rabbit shake is if it consumes toxic foods. Naturally, rabbits have a strong sense of smell to help them discern what type of foods to eat and what not to eat. Wild rabbits further use this to look for food sources. However, domesticated rabbits don’t need to do as much as their owners take care of them.
But they are still at risk of eating contaminated foods or lethal herbs such as apple seeds, anemone, Boston ivy, azalea, etc. Asides shaking and lying on its belly or side, other symptoms of food poisoning include severe fatigue, loss of energy, poor appetite, pain, intestinal infections, etc. Immediately seek medical aid once your rabbit is poisoned.
Shaking When Attacked By Ear Mites
If you find your rabbit shaking its head, it has likely been attacked by ear mites, whether in the inner, outer, or middle part. Ear mites are external parasites that block the canal and cause scabs in the ear.
Other symptoms of ear mites attack include swelling of the face, enlarged pus in the ear, lethargy, poor appetite, etc. If not treated on time, the effects can spread to your rabbit’s reproductive abilities, thereby tampering with mating. Take your rabbit to a vet immediately.
Shaking When Attacked By Skin Mites
Skin mites, also known as fur mites, are external parasites that lay eggs under your rabbit’s skin, irritating the affected area and causing the fur to drop. The obvious sign is fine dust on your rabbit’s fur.
Sometimes, rabbits scratch the affected area repeatedly to let you know something is itching them. In the process, they shake and lay on their side or back. If not treated on time, fur mites can cause irreparable damage to your rabbit’s fur. Also, you should be careful as it’s highly contagious too. Only a professional vet can treat this.
Shaking Due To Heatstroke
Usually, rabbits prefer to be cold than hot, and they easily get hot. If care isn’t taken, they can die of heat. They shake as they try to cool their bodies when they are hot. They also pant or drool heavily to let out air, with the mouth and nose turning blue and wet. You’ll also find them shaking their ears seriously as their ears are instrumental in maintaining their temperature.
Take your rabbit to a cool environment and give it some water to treat heatstroke. You can wipe a damp cloth over it and allow it to lie on a cold floor. If you’re very friendly with your rabbit, calm it down by gently rubbing its head. Ensure you don’t place its cage in a hot environment. If you’re in a hot region, you might have to buy a special cage with fans for your rabbits.
Shaking When It’s Stressed/Frightened
Shaking is one of the ways rabbits calm themselves when they are overly stressed or frightened.
Your rabbit can be stressed due to many reasons such as failing health, confining it to its cage and refusing to give it some out-time, not enough food and water, putting it with too many animals, loneliness, weather conditions such as heat, handling it roughly, moving it from one place to the other, etc.
You can tell your rabbit is stressed when it continually thumps its hind feet against the floor, is restless or scared, pants or grunts, loses interest in food, becomes aggressive and agitated, and repeats certain things such as shaking its head or ears or twitching its nose.
To treat your stressed rabbit, take it from its cage and allow it to roam freely. Ensure the environment is safe. If the stress is due to weather conditions, move the rabbit to a more suitable place. As regards handling, give your rabbit some space and allow it to get a grip on itself.
As much as rabbits are social, they don’t want to be tied to your apron strings. If it’s lonely, get another bunny. Also, remove fear triggers from the environment. For instance, rabbits don’t like to see cats and dogs because they are predators.
If your rabbit still appears stressed after you’ve possibly done all you could, take it to a doctor to check for illness. Here’s a video on dealing with a scared rabbit:
Shaking During Hiccups
Just as humans shake during hiccups, rabbits do too. Sometimes, they even spasm. However, this is no cause of concern. If the hiccupping is constant, gently rub your hand against your rabbit’s chest and use your fingers to push its underside to release any trapped gas gently. This will work if the rabbit’s condition isn’t genetic.
Shaking When It’s Excited/Happy
As a way of communicating pleasure, rabbits shake. They can get excited when they see you or play with their fellow bunnies. Sometimes, physical activities like hopping around their cage or the house also make them happy. Since they are naturally curious, they can shake in anticipation or in the process of discovering something.
Shaking When It’s Sleeping
You might think it weird for your rabbits to shake when sleeping, but it is normal, except the shaking becomes violent or distressful. Research shows that rabbits dream when they’re in a deep sleep and will usually react to the content of their dreams. Of course, they can’t tell you what they dream about, but this is a vital part of their personality. It also makes their sleep more enjoyable.
3 Things To Note As Regards Your Rabbits’ Shaking
There’s no straitjacketed rule as regards your rabbits’ shaking. It’s okay if your rabbits shake because they’re happy, involved in physical activity, have hiccups, or dream in their sleep. Your rabbit is only being a rabbit. However, if it shakes for any other reason, you should find ways to make it stop shaking. Below are things to pay attention to:
- Treat minor issues: as a rabbit breeder, you should have a special first aid box at home for your rabbits before you take them to the vet doctor. This will help you salvage their lives in emergency cases where medical attention will be too late. Besides, not all bad shaking instances need to be attended to by a doctor.
- Give your rabbits the right food in the right quantity: food and water are essential to your rabbits’ well-being. If you joke with their nutrition, you’re joking with their lives and setting yourself up for wasted efforts. Your rabbit’s diet should be mainly hay and fiber with the smallest percentage of pellets and greens. Be considerate enough not to force the food your rabbit rejects down its throat.
- Let the doctor take care of the difficult issues: having a first-aid box and knowing how to use one doesn’t automatically qualify you as a health expert. Therefore, you shouldn’t attempt to play the role of a doctor when your rabbit is suffering from a life-threatening condition. Don’t delay treatment either. You can get your bunnies’ health insurance to help solve any financial problems.
Shaking isn’t a new thing under the sun for rabbits; however, it happens for different reasons. Your duty as a rabbit owner is to find out why your rabbit is shaking because that will determine your next step. As you care for your rabbits, also look out for other signs that tell the state of their health asides shaking.