Rabbits suffer all manner of viral or bacterial related diseases and illnesses which can be quite worrying and rather frightening when you just don’t know what might be wrong with them.

However, if you are following the Daily & Monthly Health Checks you should be able to find any symptoms early and prevent some of the rabbit diseases, illnesses and injuries that are listed below.

Know Your Bunny

All rabbits hide their illnesses very well. It’s a survival trait they have learned from their wild ancestors. The weakest are always ‘picked off’ first, so showing no sign of weakness saves lives.

However, domesticated rabbits, while still remaining a blank canvas when it comes to sickness, do have personalities of their own. As their owner, you will have come to recognise when something is not quite right.

Keeping a watchful eye on your rabbits on a daily basis is the best form of preventive ‘medicine’ you can give. If your bunnies begin ‘doing’ something or ‘not doing’ something as part of their routine, then would be the time to act.

Common & Uncommon

You may be tempted to glance at this list and think, oh my, those poor rabbits, what a lot of problems they will encounter! But most of the diseases listed here are not really very common and some are actually quite rare.

However, just in case, I have listed some of the commonly known ones as well as some of the rare rabbit diseases, with an overview of symptoms and causes on each. I have also listed any possible treatments that are available plus care & prevention advice to help you look after your rabbits at home, saving you from costly vet bills (in some cases). For example, red coloured urine, while alarming for us, is completely normal for rabbits, unless it is blood of course and not just food related dye. Hopefully the descriptions below will help you understand the differences in severity of many rabbit related ailments and give you the advice to act accordingly.

The Good News

Fortunately most illnesses and rabbit diseases can be prevented simply by taking good care of your rabbit –

  • vaccinate your rabbit against VHD and myxomatosis.
  • neuter your bucks and spay your does.
  • feed them the correct hay based diet.
  • keep their living quarters clean.

Simples!

If you are new to keeping rabbits (and even if you’re an old pro for that matter), this comprehensive dictionary-styled list, will be very useful on your quest for learning about rabbit diseases.

Rabbit Diseases, Illnesses & Injuries Guide

Click the letters below to find the name of your rabbit’s problem or concern.Then you can expand the text for detailed symptoms, causes and treatments.There is also care, treatment and prevention advice for each rabbit disease or illness.
A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P R S T U V W

Rabbit Diseases & Illnesses

Overview, Symptoms, Cause, Treatments, Care & Prevention

A

Rabbit Diseases starting with A
AbscessAn abscess is a cavity containing pus surrounded by a capsule of thickened, inflamed tissue.More | Less
Alopecia (hair loss)Alopecia is the complete or partial lack of hair in areas where hair is normally present. This common disorder in rabbits may often be the symptom of another cause, such as infection, trauma or immune disorder. For rabbits, there is no specific age, breed, or sex that is more susceptible to this disorder.
ArthritisArthritis is the general medical term for inflamed joints. Septic arthritis, on the other hand, is a condition that occurs when bacteria infects one or more of the rabbit’s joints.

B

Rabbit Diseases starting with B
Bladder Stones (Calculi)Bladder stones, sometimes called calcium stones, and/or sludge can occur when the rabbit is not processing calcium through its kidneys properly.
BloatBloat is a condition where the stomach becomes stretched by excessive gas content, caused by the bacteria in a rabbit’s stomach multiplying excessively as a result of incorrect feeding.
Bordetella bronchisepticaBordetella bronchiseptica is a small, gram-negative, rod-shaped bacterium of the genus Bordetella. It can cause infectious bronchitis in small animals. Also called “snuffles”and related to Pasteurella infection.
Bumblefoot (infection)Bumblefoot results from inflammation of the bottom surface of the foot, it is an extremely painful infection of the footpad. Also known as ulcerative pododermatitis.

C

Rabbit Diseases starting with C
Cloudy Eye (cataracts)A cataract is an opaque film on the lens of the eye, and may mean the lens is entirely or only partially clouded. In most instances, cataracts are present at the rabbit’s birth.
CoccidiosisCoccidiosis is a widespread parasitic rabbit disease, wild rabbits being more commonly affected as opposed to domesticated rabbits. The disease can prove to be fatal in rabbits.
ConjunctivitisInflammation of the conjunctiva in one or both eyes. Also called “pink eye” because the eye appears red and swollen. Pink eye causes the eye to produce a watery discharge and sometimes even pus.

D

Rabbit Diseases starting with D
Degenerative Joint Disease (DJD)Osteoarthritis, also known as degenerative joint disease (DJD), is a chronic (long-term) condition that causes the cartilage surrounding the joints to deteriorate. Arthritis, on the other hand, is the general medical term for inflamed joints. And much like humans, rabbits can suffer from osteoarthritis.
Dental disease (malocclusion)Dental disease is by far the most common problem seen in domestic rabbits today. The scientific term for dental disease is malocclusion, referring to the misalignment of teeth.
Diarrhoea (enteritis)Mucoid Enteritis is very dangerous and probably one of the fastest killing rabbit diseases a bunny can develop. This disease often affects young rabbits, but can affect adults too. Enteritis is a severe watery diarrhoea. This is not to be confused with a soft or sticky stool, which is normal. Enteritis by definition is inflamation of the intestinal tract of the rabbit.
DystociaDystocia is the inability to expel foetus(es) from the uterus during parturition (the birth process) and may be due to maternal or foetal conditions preventing a normal delivery. Maternal factors may include pelvic, vaginal, or uterine abnormalities, such as small pelvic size and uterine inertia, or may be due to malnutrition, parasitism, obesity, and/or hereditary causes.

E

Rabbit Diseases starting with E
Ear mites (canker)A common ectoparasitic rabbit disease condition causing severe crusting, scaliness, scabbiness and itchiness of the external ear canal and pinna (the ear flap itself), called cankers. The skin becomes infested by the mite species: Psoroptes cuniculi.
E. Cuniculi (Encephalitozoon Cuniculi)E.cuniculi is a tiny single celled protozoal parasite, which has to live inside a host cell in order to survive. E.cuniculi primarily infects rabbits and just occasionally it can infect humans, especially if they are immuno-compromised. Infection has been diagnosed in rabbits in Europe, Africa, America and Australia. In the UK the parasite is common in laboratory and pet rabbits, but rare in the wild rabbits.
Enteritis (diarrhoea)Mucoid Enteritis is very dangerous and probably one of the fastest killing rabbit diseases a bunny can develop. This disease often affects young rabbits, but can affect adults too. Enteritis is a severe watery diarrhoea. This is not to be confused with a soft or sticky stool, which is normal. Enteritis by definition is inflamation of the intestinal tract of the rabbit.

F

Rabbit Diseases starting with F
FleasFleas are a group of ectoparasites that can live away from the animal but in order to breed, they need a host to feed from. Fleas are a major vector of the mxyomatosis virus.
FlystrikeBlowflies become attracted to any soiled skin and lay their eggs which in hot, humid conditions can develop in to maggots in less than 24 hours. These maggots eat under the skin and release poisons, which will be fatal for the rabbit.

G

Rabbit Diseases starting with G
GI (gastro intestinal) stasisAn intestinal slow down can cause ingested hair and food to lodge anywhere along the GI tract, creating a potential blockage. Also, because the cecum is not emptying quickly enough, harmful bacteria can proliferate, their numbers overwhelming those of the normal, beneficial bacteria and fungi in the cecum.

H

Rabbit Diseases starting with H
HaematuriaHaematuria is defined as blood in the urine It can be differentiated from ‘red urine’ by a simple dipstick test.
Hairballs (trichobezoar)A hairball is a solid mass or mat of hair that has been ingested, often combined with thick or undigested food and can be found in the stomach and/or intestines. Because rabbits groom themselves frequently, they can accumulate large amounts of hair in this way.
Hair loss (Alopecia)Alopecia or hairloss, is the complete or partial lack of hair in areas where hair is normally present. This common disorder in rabbits may often be the symptom of another cause, such as infection, trauma or immune disorder. For rabbits, there is no specific age, breed, or sex that is more susceptible to this disorder.
Head Tilt (torticollis or wry neck)Head tilt or torticollis, Latin for “twisted neck” and sometimes called “wryneck” causes a rabbit’s head to twist over sideways. Often, torticollis is accompanied by a rapid side-to-side movement of the eyeballs (nystagmus), an indication that the rabbit is suffering from dizziness/vertigo.
Heat Exhaustion (heat stroke)Heat stroke occurs when your rabbit overheats and is unable to get cooled back down to a reasonable temperature. In extreme cases, heat stroke can cause death.

I

Rabbit terms starting with I
Intervertebral Disc Disease – IVD (slipped disc)The intervertebral discs are like small jelly pads between each bone in the spine which act as shock absorbers. As the rabbit ages these pads become calcified and then they can move or burst upwards pushing on the spinal cord.

K

Rabbit Diseases starting with K
Kidney FailureWhen the kidneys are no longer able to function properly. Acute failure occurs suddenly; caused by a bacterial infection or eating poisonous plants. Chronic kidney failure is progressive over a longer period of time and more common in older rabbits as part of the aging process or with obese rabbits.

L

Rabbit Diseases starting with L
Limping Due to Pain or Injury (lameness)Limping or lameness is defined as the disability of a limb to the point where movement is impaired. This is typically the result of a severe limb injury or as a side-effect of severe pain in the limbs.

M

Rabbit Diseases starting with M
Malocclusion (dental disease)A misalignment of teeth. An inherited defect where the upper and lower jaws do not let the teeth meet, resulting in long, uneven teeth extending out of the rabbit’s mouth.
Mammary Gland Neoplasia (Mammary Adenocarcinoma)Mammary carcinosarcoma is rare in rabbits. Carcinosarcoma is a neoplasia composed of cells morphologically resembling malignant epithelial components and cells resembling malignant connective tissue elements.
MastitisMastitis normally only occurs in rabbits that are lactating. This rabbit disease is most often found in rabbits that not kept in a clean environment. It is caused by bacterial infection in mammary glands. Seldom seen in small rabbitries, this disease is curable but sometimes turns acute.
Middle & Inner Ear Infections (Otitis Media and Interna)Otitis Media and Interna are conditions in which there is inflammation of the middle and inner ear canals (respectively) in rabbits. It is most commonly caused by a bacterial infection that has spread from the external ear cavity into the inner ear.
Mites (mange)Cheyletiella mites, commonly referred to as skin mites or mange mites, are the most common skin problem seen in rabbits. Invisible to the eye, they are easily spread on hay and other bedding and, whilst not a serious problem in themselves, can carry the myxomatosis virus.
Mucoid EnteritisMucoid enteritis is a subacute fatal disease in young rabbits and has long been a major source of economic loss to commercial rabbitries.
Myxomatosis (myxi)Myxomatosis is caused by the myxoma virus, a poxvirus spread between rabbits by close contact and biting insects such as fleas and mosquitoes. The virus causes swelling and discharge from the eyes, nose and anogenital region of infected rabbits.

N

Rabbit Diseases starting with N
Nasal DischargeRabbits may have nasal discharge for a variety of reasons. A white sticky discharge may be a symptom of upper respiratory infection.

O

Rabbit Diseases starting with O
ObesityObesity in rabbits is caused by an incorrect diet that is too high in dry food (commercial rabbit food) and too low in hay…

P

Rabbit Diseases starting with P
Pasteurellosis (snuffles)Pasteurella Moltoceda is the bacterium that causes Pasteurellosis in rabbits. Over half of all wild and domestic rabbits carry Pasteurella bacteria in their mouth or respiratory tract but most are not ill, as a healthy immune system either destroys the bacteria or keeps it under control and harmless.
Pathogenic Escherichia coli (e.coli or EPEC)Enterohemorrhagic Escherichia coli (EHEC) is a subset of pathogenic E. coli (Enteropathogenic Escherichia coli – EPEC) that can cause diarrhea or hemorrhagic colitis in rabbits.

R

Rabbit Diseases starting with R
RabbitpoxRabbitpox is a disease of rabbits caused by a virus of the genus Orthopoxvirus and the family Poxviridae. Rabbitpox virus (RPXV) is highly virulent for rabbits and it has long been suspected to be a close relative of vaccinia virus.
Red UrineThe normal colour of urine from rabbits is yellow. Sometimes the urine can become red, pink, brown, or orange. This condition, often simply called “red urine,” can occur in healthy rabbits as well as those who are ill.

S

Rabbit Diseases starting with S
Snuffles (nasal discharge or pasteurellosis)Snuffles is a term used to describe the symptoms of runny eyes, runny nose and sneezing in rabbits. The cause of these symptoms is often a chronic bacterial infection in the tear ducts and nasal sinuses. The bacteria involved are usually Pasteurella spp or Staphylococcus spp.
Spinal Column Disorder (Spinal Cord Injury)The spinal cord is a large bundle of nerves that runs through the backbone carrying the nerve messages, detecting sensation and controlling muscular movement. Damage will cause pressure on the spinal cord and loss of nerve function in the rabbit.

T

Rabbit Diseases starting with T
Tear Duct Infection (dacrocystitis)Dacryocystitis is a significant problem in that it is commonly seen, can cause a severe purulent discharge and can be very difficult to cure.
Torticollis (head tilt)See head tilt
Tyzzer’s diseaseTyzzer’s disease is an illness that can cause cell death in the liver and intestinal tract of many small mammals including rabbits, guinea pigs, hamsters, and gerbils.

U

Rabbit Diseases starting with U
UTI (Urinary Tract Infection)Urinary tract infection, also called cystitis is characterized by the inflammation of the urinary bladder caused by a buildup of bacteria.

V

Rabbit Diseases starting with V
Vent Disease (rabbit syphilis)Vent disease or rabbit syphilis causes lesions on the genitals and sometimes the face. Spread through mating and at kindling, it is caused by a spirochete, Treponema cuniculi in the blood stream.
VHD (Viral Haemorrhagic Disease or RHD)Viral Haemorrhagic Disease (VHD) also known as Rabbit Haemorrhagic Disease (RHD) is a very serious infectious rabbit disease which first emerged in China during the 1980s. It is now an endemic disease in wild rabbits in the UK with infection being mostly fatal, with no visible symptoms.


W

Rabbit Diseases starting with W
Wet-tailWet tail refers to a variety of gastrointestinal and urinary issues in rabbits. There is a common misconception that Wet Tail (or proliferative ileitis) is simply diarrhoea. Diarrhoea is a symptom of Wet Tail, which is an infection of the stomach and bowels caused by an overgrowth of bacteria.


This is simply a place where all the research, information, facts, articles, papers and book knowledge has been brought together in one place so it is easier to find solutions so you will see it in quotes where applicable.

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Liese Miranda Hawkins
Miranda currently lives just outside Colorado Springs, Colorado with her husband, 8-year old son, and what she lovingly calls her “zoo.” Miranda grew up in the Midwest and always had animals around while growing up. After graduating from college, she married her husband Sam and they moved to the mountains of Colorado where Miranda became very involved with the regional rabbit rescues.

Currently, her “zoo” includes two dogs, one rambunctious cat, and three indoor rabbits. Oliver, a delightful Black Otter Holland Lop, and Juniper, a gorgeous Opal Satin Angora, are a bonded pair and have been together for three years.

She had the pleasure of adding an energetic Fawn Flemish Giant to her family one year ago, named Sir Gregor. He had been abandoned outside a pet store and was put up for adoption. Miranda feels very blessed to have this lovable lagomorph living amongst her family and is a strong advocate for educating people about rabbits and how special they truly are.

Miranda has put together a team of rabbit lovers and breeders from across the country and hopes you will find the information and resources on the JustRabbits.com site beneficial. She loves to hear from her readers and looks forward to seeing many more people become loving responsible bunny parents.