You are risking the lives of your rabbits if you cannot:
- take their temperature
- recognize the signs of GI Stasis and get rabbit-savvy medical help FAST
- recognize the first signs of head tilt and get rabbit-savvy medical help FAST
On our Health Line, we frequently get calls from adopters who cannot take their bunny’s temperature, which means we can do nothing to help. If you can’t take their temperature so we CAN help you, your rabbit may be dead before you can get into a vet!
PLEASE, if you aren’t absolutely certain you can take your rabbits’ temperature, try NOW to see if you can do it. For those of you have may be out of practice, the review is for you to insert a Vaseline-lubricated thermometer at least an inch into the rabbit’s anus with the tip pressed to the side, ensuring the thermometer is in contact with tissue, not stuck in a ball of fecal matter.
Take their temperature routinely every two months when you tune them up; an advantage is you will soon know your rabbit’s normal healthy temperature. Then if you do have to use our Health Line, you won’t have to say, “I learned that in class, but it was so long ago I don’t remember what I’m supposed to do.”
If you haven’t taken the Bunny Tune-Up Class yet, do it ASAP!!! Besides this being essential to your rabbit’s health and welfare, it is a stipulation of the Adoption Contract you signed with us.
If you have taken the class, but can’t remember how to insert the thermometer, please contact Rachel or Nancy to make an appointment for them to work with you or schedule to take the class again.
To help you interpret what your rabbit’s temperature means:
- Temperature between 101.5° to 103° F is normal.
- Anything above 103° F is a fever!
- Anything below 101.5° is hypothermia which is more dangerous than a fever!
If a rabbit’s temperature gets close to 106° F, there is danger of seizures and brain damage.
Ways to cool a rabbit with a high fever:
- Fill a hot water bottle (or any bottle with a good seal) with cold water and keep it against the rabbit.
- Wet a towel with cold water, wring it out as completely as possible, shake it in the air to get it cool, and wrap it around the rabbit.
Ways to warm a hypothermic rabbit:
- Put hot water in a hot water bottle (or any bottle with a good seal), wrap a small towel around it, and put it against the rabbit. (WARNING: as it cools, it will begin to take heat away from the rabbit, so check it every 30 minutes).
- Heat up a microwavable “bunny warmer” in the microwave and put it against the rabbit.
- Heat a bath towel in a microwave, 30 seconds at a time to see how warm it gets, and when it is very warm, wrap it around the rabbit (this doesn’t last long, but it gives heat all over the body).
If a rabbit suddenly stops eating and won’t take a favorite treat, she will be dead in a few hours if you don’t know what to do:
Take the rabbit’s temperature – if it’s below 101.5 degrees, apply heat using a hot water bottle, microwaveable bag, or something such as the “Snuggle Safe Microwave Disc” (available from Doctors Foster and Smith) and get to a good rabbit-savvy veterinarian as quickly as possible!
If you have someone come in to care for your rabbits while you are away, they must come every twelve hours and verify that each of your rabbits are eating. Having them come only once a day has cost the life of too many beloved companion rabbits!
If a rabbit’s head is slightly tilted to one side and stays that way as they move around, you have an emergency on your hands! Get your rabbit to a good rabbit-savvy veterinarian FAST, so appropriate medications can be given. Usually if appropriate medication are given before more symptoms appear, the rabbit’s head comes up, you finish the course of medications, and it’s all over.
Often, only a very few hours after the first tilt of the head, the rabbit will begin rolling uncontrollably. Once that starts, it may go on for 3 months, and leave the rabbit with a ninety-degree tilted head. During this time, the rabbit can’t eat, sleep, or drink – you must do all of it for him. Call our Health Line if you need information about how to do this.
For the sake of your rabbits, be informed!