Why does My Lionhead Rabbit Shake, Shiver or Tremble?

If you are a proud owner of a lionhead rabbit, you have certainly done your research and know that these creatures are quite the delicate pets. Seeing your lionhead rabbit shake, shiver or tremble can often be a sign of health alert.

But sometimes, reasons can be really banal, too. That is why knowing how to distinguish the various types and causes of such behavior is essential.

Generally, rabbits breathe much quicker than people do. After an extensive exercise or playtime, they will breathe even quicker, and it may seem on such occasions that your pet is shivering when in fact it is doing simply fine.

That said, learning how to recognize the difference between health problems and simple exhaustion will help you not to worry excessively.

Reasons Why Lionhead Rabbits Shake

Here are some of the main reasons why lionhead rabbits shake, shiver or tremble.

– Stress & Fear

Both stress and fear are common reasons which make rabbits shiver or shake. This happens extremely often with newly adopted rabbits, as the transition period from one environment to another brings a lot of uncertainty and anxiety.

Also, it is quite frequent with older rabbits which need to adapt to a new pet at some point in their life.

A rabbit that shivers due to stress or fear is quite easy to recognize. Firstly, you will notice a scared and timid body posture, and you will surely spot some other body language signs.

Scared and stressed pets will often avoid human touch and will react to almost any louder sound. Their tiny noses will twitch in such situations, too.

If you suspect your lionhead is frightened or overly stressed, make sure to remove all stress triggers from the surrounding environment. Also, try spending as much time as possible with your pet.

Start from the grounds, as this is where they feel safest. Sitting and letting your rabbit come to you is the best way to bond. Pet it gently to remove as much anxiety as possible.

If you notice your rabbit is side swaying or head bobbing, this may be an indication of severe stress. Please do contact your vet for guidance in such cases.

– Toxic Food

Domestic rabbits which rely on their humans for feeding are often not able to distinguish toxic food, so it can happen that they ingest it anyway.

Keeping all poisonous plants out of reach is essential but, even then, some curios rabbits can occasionally find their way to avocados or mushrooms or any other highly dangerous meal. In that case a quick intervention is crucial to save their live.

If you notice your pet being disoriented, with high fever or diarrhea and followed by shaking while lying on the ground, you can be almost certain this is some kind of poisoning. Please call your vet immediately on such occasions.

– Heat Stroke

Lionhead rabbits are particularly sensitive to high temperatures due to their thick and long fur. They cannot control their body temperature levels by sweating as people do, but they start breathing faster and shaking their ears instead. This can lead to a heat stroke if not stopped.

If you know that the temperature around your home is over 80 degrees-Fahrenheit or 26-degrees Celsius, seeing your pet shake and pant is a clear sign that it is feeling too hot. Try cooling out your lionhead by guiding it to a cooler room for a while.

If that is not possible, you may want to spray it behind ears with fresh water. However, be extremely careful not to spray any water inside the ears.

If your pet does not start returning to normal breathing rates soon after that, you may seek for medical attention.

– Bacterial Infection (Digestive Problems)

Eating an inappropriate meal such as processed human food can lead to a bacterial infection inside the digestive system of a rabbit. This can lead to a really serious condition called GI Stasis, and it means that the digestive system of a rabbit has slowed down to such rate that it becomes impossible for it to process food normally.

If your pet is already into an advanced stage of GI stasis, you will notice it laying on the side body (trying not to lay on the belly because it really hurts) and twitching. Eating becomes a hard activity for them, and they will also not have regular feces.

Even if you feed your rabbit with the high-quality and nutritive meals it deserves, it can still develop such condition due to other factors as overstress or dehydration or obesity.

GI stasis can become fatal in a brief period such as 24 hours, so make sure to bring your lionhead to the nearest pet clinic right away.

– Hiccups

Finally, seeing your rabbit briefly trembling or shaking its ears may mean it has the hiccups. This can be connected either to eating fast or to a spasm in the respiratory muscles, but it is no real reason for concern.

If your pet has the hiccups, try to reassure it. Gently rub its nose, ears, and belly. This will certainly help with easing its digestion and breathing.

Is Shivering Bad for Lionhead Rabbits?

Shivering is generally not harmful to any rabbit, but it may be a symptom of a real health problem sometimes, so it is important to detect why this is happening.

Rabbits can shiver if being ill or overly stressed, but also when ingesting toxic or inappropriate food. That is why it is really important not to ignore any shivering, but to understand what is causing it.

How to Prevent Shaking in Lionhead Rabbits?

The most reliable and efficient way to prevent shaking in lionhead rabbits is taking care both of their physical and mental health. A rabbit which feels safe in its environment and has a healthy diet with enough exercise is less likely to ever shake.

Some general guidelines for future prevention are:

  • Ensure that your lionhead rabbit has an appropriately sized enclosure, as well as enough space to exercise and play. Rabbits which have to spend several hours each day in a tiny cage can develop both boredom and stress symptoms.
  • Provide your pet a healthy and nutritive diet. Follow the feeding guidelines and never offer toxic food such as avocado, mushrooms, bread, chocolate, and all other dangerous meals. Additionally, monitor if your pet is eating and visiting its litter each day.
  • Make sure that your rabbit’s enclosure is regularly cleaned to avoid bacteria spreads.
  • Try to always keep your rabbit under appropriate temperatures. Do not keep the enclosure under direct sunlight but do make sure that your pet gets its daily dose of sunshine to stay healthy.
  • Make sure to spend some quality time with your lionhead each day. If you are not able to do that, getting a second rabbit may be a great idea. Rabbits get excessively stressed when forced to live alone.
  • Remove all stress triggers from your pet’s environment. If you own another pet which is a natural rabbit predator and they clearly do not get along well, try keeping them apart as much as you can.
  • Groom your lionhead rabbit regularly to prevent any fur ball ingestion.
  • Bring your pet to the vet occasionally, both for vaccine boosters and for general health check-ups.

Wrapping Up

Seeing your favorite lionhead rabbit shake, shiver or tremble is never easy. However, there is no need to panic right away. Instead, try checking if it is perhaps just breathing fast after a zoom session around the living room.

If you notice any of the previously described symptoms which indicate there is something more serious involved, it is time to give your veterinarian a call.

Whatever the reason may be, we are sure that you will carefully follow all preventive measures to never let that happen in the future.

avatar Jane
Jane is an experienced animal care specialist with a focus on rodents and small mammals, with over 10 years of experience in the pet industry. Her articles provide practical guidance on choosing the right pet and managing common health issues. Jane is an advocate for animal welfare and supports organizations dedicated to protecting wildlife. read more...

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