Why is My Rabbit Shaking?

Rabbit Rabbit Behaviour


  • Why is my rabbit shaking?
Rabbits are hardy little pets and given the right care, they’re robust enough to live outdoors through winter. With preventative treatments and a good diet, they rarely get sick, so it can be quite unnerving when you wake up one morning or check on them in the afternoon and realise something is wrong. Rabbits are a prey species so they put a great deal of effort into appearing healthy even when they’re not. As far as they’re concerned, a predator that happens to see them might pick them out as a weak link and an easy meal if they’re visibly ill.
This is why it can at times be difficult to treat a sick bunny, they only show signs when they can’t possibly hide them anymore which is usually quite far along into not being well. They’re on the opposite end of the spectrum to dogs who learn to limp purely for your sympathy and extra cuddles!

Why is my rabbit shaking?

There could be a number of reasons why a rabbit shakes and in some cases, they may even appear to be trembling, but the issue might be something different entirely. We’ve collected some of the most common reasons why your bunny might be shaking and some quick ways to fix the problem at hand.

Rabbit sat on the ground.

They could be cold

One of the first things you could consider is that they might be cold. Like us, rabbits shiver when they get cold. It’s their body’s way of generating heat quickly to make themselves more comfortable. If you catch your bunny shaking and you think they might be cold, there are a few things you can check on to confirm if that’s the case.
If their hutch is outdoors, make sure you’re doing everything you can to keep them warm through the winter. You can try moving their hutch into the garage or putting a cover over it to avoid any of the wind or rain getting inside. Moving it to where it will get better cover such as behind a wall and making sure it’s not in a draught will help too. Even when your hutch is indoors and you might think your bunny should be nice and warm, they can still get a chill if they’re near a window or a doorway to catch a draught. Make sure they always have fresh, clean bedding as soiled bedding quickly becomes wet and cold for them. If they’re still not nice and warm you can put some Snugglesafe Heat Pad into their home to warm it up!

They’re breathing quickly

Sometimes when bunnies are breathing rapidly, it can look like they’re shaking. Rabbits have much faster pulse and respiration rates than larger pets so it may always look like they’re breathing quite quickly to you. After they’ve had a run around or a play then you might notice that they flop over on their side and breathe so quickly, so it can indeed appear like they’re shaking. All you have to do in this situation is to just let them catch their breath and they’ll hop up and get back to feeding or mooching around once they’ve relaxed.
While bunnies can get cold in the winter, they’re actually much better at dealing with the cold than high temperatures. They may love to roam and graze in the garden during the summer but on especially hot days, they could look like they’re shaking if they are in fact overheating and trying to cool off. If your bunny is overheating then you’ll usually notice a few other signs like hot red ears, open-mouthed breathing and they could even be bleeding from the nose or mouth if it’s severe enough. If your rabbit has heat stroke, you need to move them into the shade. You can apply cool water to their ears and place them on a cooling mat or wet towel as soon as you can.
If they don’t cool down and start to feel better after only minor symptoms, you should call your vet and take them in to get checked.

They’re scared or annoyed

Just like humans, rabbits can sometimes shake when they’re feeling worried or angry. If your bunny is in a stressful situation, then they may start to tremble. This could be out of fear or because they’re angry. The best way to decipher what they’re feeling so you can help fix it is to first try and understand what they’re feeling. If they’re cowering away and shaking with their ears tucked down, they’re frightened but if they have stiff body language with upright ears, then they are more likely to be annoyed. When rabbits are angry, they will also thump their back feet, so make sure you check for these signs.
There’s usually something quite obvious causing distress, whether it’s the presence of a stranger, another pet or even you. You can give them time in a safe space like their hutch to let them decompress. If they’re worried and you have a strong bond with them, a cuddle in your lap could help them feel better but be sure to remove whatever or whoever is causing the stress first.

They’re unwell

There are several more serious medical reasons why your bunny could be shaking and some are more severe than others. It could be as simple as a stomach upset which will pass quickly but make them uncomfortable for a few hours or it could be severe pain associated with a broken bone. There could also be neurological issues or a stroke causing tremors in your beloved pet.
A good rule of thumb is that if you’re not sure what’s causing your rabbit to shake and you have made sure they’re not too cold, too hot, tired from exercise or just feeling strongly about something then it’s worth calling their vet to be safe. It could be something minor that passes but since our furry friends like to hide when they’re not well, it’s better to be safe than sorry. For everything you need to help keep your bunny hoppy and healthy, visit us in store and online.