Rabbits are generally considered to be sweet-tempered, well-mannered, active, and intelligent creatures. So you might be thinking, can rabbits get depressed? If so, what are the signs of a depressed rabbit?
Rabbits do get depressed and lonely. Sad rabbits are highly unmotivated.
They might lose their appetite and would seem very lethargic. They may lose interest in the things that they like such as their favorite treats or their favorite toys.
Depressed rabbits can even resort to aggressive behaviors such as biting and scratching.
Though this is in no way a substantial substitute for veterinary advice. If you feel that your rabbit’s lethargy and depression are caused by an underlying sickness then by all means, please have your pet bunnies checked by a specialist.
This article aims to give some light to all questions about depression that might plague your rabbits.
What are the signs of depressed rabbit?
How great it would be if humanity has invented a device that allows us to communicate with our pets. It would make pet ownership much easier!
But alas, until we do invent such a miracle device, we just need to contend with being vigilant and aware of what our pet bunnies’ body language is telling us.
There are many ways to spot it, so here 7 signs that your rabbit might be depressed:
I’d like you to imagine one of your worst days. You’d probably have a hard time getting out of bed. Heck, you might even not want to get out of bed at all! Your whole body might feel like it’s made of lead and everything is just too heavy to move.
You might be surprised but it can also affect bunnies.
A lethargic rabbit will not want to move or jump around. They might not want to play even if you take out all their favorite toys. They might not even join their companion animals when they play or hop around.
If your rabbit loves to binky and you notice that they do not do this behavior anymore, then that is one sign that your bunny might be depressed.
2. Lack of Appetite
During your worst days, you probably also felt that food is tasteless and bland so you don’t eat or eat significantly less than when you weren’t so sad. Just like you, rabbits lose their appetite when they are sad.
Rabbits love to munch on things because their health is closely related to their gut.
Because they need so much energy they need to be constantly eating. Even when going to the bathroom, rabbits munch on hay. If your rabbit suddenly loses interest in hay or their favorite treats then your rabbit might be sad.
3. Lack of interest in social activities
Rabbits are highly social animals. In the wild, they usually live with their kind.
It’s also commonly known that rabbits thrive better when they are raised as pairs. Rabbits also play to exercise.
That is why it is highly recommended that owners do not always cage their rabbits but instead give them time to play and jump around our homes.
A rabbit that suddenly loses any activity in socializing or playing is not a normal, happy bunny.
Hiding goes against a rabbit’s normal nature. If they do not see you or anyone in the house as a potential threat or predator then there is no reason for them to hide.
It’s even more alarming if your rabbit was once social but then suddenly imposes this sudden self-isolation from everyone.
Hiding rabbits sometimes dig or go into covers and not come out for hours. Be sure to check your rabbit’s schedule.
Sometimes free-roaming rabbits hide under the bed or under the sofa to sleep. If your rabbit is doing it more than usual then your rabbit might be depressed.
Pacing is another uncommon trait for rabbits. Rabbits tend to hop around when they are happy.
They also are known to flop or to do zoomies just like dogs. Let’s go back again to one of your worst days, the anxiety might be high and you tend to move back and forth your living space.
This behavior can also be observed in anxious, stressed, or depressed rabbits. Pacing rabbits in their enclosures is usually not a good sign of a happy bunny.
Sad rabbits also tend to over groom. This is another sign that your bunny is anxious and stressed.
There is a difference between grooming and overgrooming. Rabbits are very clean animals and are known to be fastidious in their grooming habits.
If your rabbits groom themselves so much that bald spots suddenly appear then your rabbit might be depressed.
Let’s go back for the last time to one of your worst days.
Aren’t you irritable? Did you have so much pent-up energy that you fear that you will lash out at an unsuspecting friend or family member? Depressed rabbits are also known to resort to aggressive behaviors.
If your previously sweet pet rabbit suddenly has the propensity for biting and kicking then this could be a sign that your rabbit is depressed.
Why do rabbits get depressed?
There are many reasons why rabbits get depressed. It could range from a change of environment to something more insidious like a disease.
But, whatever the reason it is important for any responsible owner to know the most common reasons that cause depression in rabbits.
Loss of companion
I cannot stress enough how rabbits are social animals. If a rabbit is raised and closely bonded to a companion and that companion suddenly dies, your rabbit will also grieve and will be sad for a period of time.
Rabbits are creatures of habit. It is this trait that makes them very easy to litter train. However, if their everyday routine has been disrupted this might cause stress and anxiety to your pet as they would again need to adjust.
Your rabbits cannot spend so much of their time in a cage. They might be small animals but that is not an excuse for them to be caged all the time.
They need stimulation and constant exercise to remain happy and comfortable. Even when they are in a cage, be sure to provide toys that will also still mentally stimulate them,
Most rabbit diseases have symptoms such as lethargy and loss of appetite. If you know that your rabbit is not suffering from boredom or no routine has changed then it might be time to have your pet checked by the vet.
Are there ways to cheer up a depressed rabbit?
No loving pet owner wants their rabbits to be depressed. So it is also essential knowledge on how to cheer up your bunnies if they are feeling sad:
Get them a companion
If your pet’s depression is because of a loss of a companion, then it would help greatly if you get another rabbit as a companion.
It is important to ensure however that this rabbit is spayed or neutered to avoid any unwanted behavioral problems caused by hormones.
Get them a bigger cage and more mentally stimulating activities
If your rabbit is bored get them a bigger cage or increase their free-roam time.
Free roam rabbits tend to live happier lives than rabbits living in a cage, so if it’ll help raise your rabbit’s mood then it could be a good thing to consider transitioning to free-roaming your rabbit.
Get them to the vet
If all else fails, then maybe it’s time for a vet visit.
Be vigilant of other possible symptoms as well. Is your rabbit suddenly not defecating? Or is there a significant decrease in fecal pellets for the past few days?
Rabbit diseases can be highly contagious to other rabbits, it is then better to have them checked by the vet sooner rather than later.
Can rabbits die from being sad or lonely?
We’ve heard about elephants dying from a broken heart, so you’re probably thinking, can rabbits die from a broken heart too?
The answer isn’t a clear-cut yes or no. It depends entirely on the reason for your rabbit’s depression.
Sickness can be deadly but we also have to know that loneliness in rabbits can cause stress that can cause diseases and diseases can be fatal
I hope this article is helpful to you as a rabbit owner, now that you know the common signs of a depressed rabbit.
Know that responsible pet ownership entails constant vigilance about our pets’ habits and behaviors, any signs of change should be addressed immediately. That includes both their physical and emotional well-being.