Rabbits are always full of energy.
But they can have the blues as well.
However, bunnies are masters in hiding their discomfort.
Thus, if you pay little attention to the subtle signs they show…
You might miss them.
So how can you spot a depressed bunny?
Continue reading to find out:
- 13 clear signs to know if a rabbit’s depressed.
- 5 easiest ways to cheer up a depressed rabbit.
- 2 things to watch out for besides their behavior.
- And many more…
Is my rabbit depressed?
Your rabbit is depressed if they suddenly become aloof and lose interest in things they used to like. Say eating, playing, or socializing with people. They’ll also hide for hours, pace a lot, over-groom, and sleep more than usual. But besides these, they may become destructive or aggressive as well.
13 signs of a depressed rabbit
#1: Low energy
Bunnies, especially young ones, are often full of beans.
They’re energetic. And you’ll see them hopping or zooming around.
But if they’re having more than a ‘bad hare day’…
They’ll move less than usual. And will prefer to sit in one place at all times.
Depression, whether in people or animals, leads to a lack of interest in things you used to enjoy.
So toys may not interest a depressed rabbit. As well as playing with you or other bunnies.
Aside from lethargy, a low-spirited bunny may also hide in their den for hours.
This is another clear sign of depression. Especially if your rabbit’s not usually shy.
And if there’s nothing to be scared about. Say a loud dog barking or an unfamiliar person in the house.
And they’ll stay there for hours a day.
#3: Aloof behavior
As the gloomy bunny continues to hide…
They’ll also become more withdrawn from the world.
A depressed rabbit will avoid any social interaction. Even if it’s a friend or you – their beloved human.
Bunnies are social animals.
Although they might be shy at first…
They enjoy having a companion.
So it’ll be unusual for a friendly rabbit to become aloof suddenly.
#4: Reduced appetite
You’d see bunnies grazing on hay all day.
And that’s just how they are.
Their digestive system’s always moving.
Thus, your bunny will get the urge to eat something every minute.
But since a depressed rabbit will likely lose interest in everything – even food…
Yummy treats won’t excite them anymore.
They’ll only nibble on their meals and not finish their pellets.
Or worse, they might stop eating at all.
#5: Tinier poop
Like I said in #4, a depressed bunny would eat and drink less.
As a result, they’ll also produce smaller droppings.
Usually, these are the size of a pea.
But if something’s wrong with their mind or body, a rabbit’s poop might only be half of it.
Plus, their droppings will also be dry instead of moist.
Note: When stressed, some bunnies can have smaller poop for a short period. But if this persists for days, it could be a sign of depression. So also pay close attention to your bunny’s droppings.
#6: Hunched posture
Apart from the behavior, you should also look at your rabbit’s appearance.
A depressed bunny won’t lie down with a relaxed body.
Instead, they’ll sit like a loaf. With their back hunched and legs folded.
You may also notice the signs below:
- Droopy ears.
- Squinted eyes.
And they’ll likely refuse to move unless they need to.
Note: This could also be a sign of pain or an upset stomach in rabbits.
#7: Longer naps
As bunnies get older, they tend to become less active.
But this could also be the case in depressed rabbits, regardless of age.
On average, most bunnies sleep for 11-12 hours daily.
They won’t do this straight. But they’ll have short naps throughout the day.
So if your bunny’s dispirited…
You’ll find them lying on their bed all the time. Probably in a hunched or awkward position.
Rabbits run in circles or pace when they have nothing to do.
But if they’re stimulated and still move back and forth all day…
It could be a sign of depression. As well as anxiety.
Bunnies might also pace over a small area if their cage is too tiny.
They’re full of energy. Plus, they need to stretch out their strong legs and hop around.
So, according to vets, rabbits need at least 24 sq. ft. (2.23 sq. m.) of exercise pens. And they need to play freely for 4 hours.
To keep themselves clean, bunnies groom regularly.
They’ll lick their front paws. Then wipe them on their eyes and nose.
And they’ll do it on other parts of their body.
However, if your rabbit does it too much to the point of bleeding…
Something’s bothering them.
“Why do bunnies do it?”
It can be out of boredom.
But similar to thumb-sucking in children, licking also has a calming effect.
Due to it, a depressed rabbit may do it repeatedly to soothe them.
Sometimes, it’s the opposite.
A depressed rabbit may not groom at all. As they have no energy to do things.
For bunnies, hygiene’s important.
So watch out for a dull or stained coat.
Note: It may not be safe to bathe your rabbit in this state. A bath alone is stressful for them on normal days, so you’ll only make things worse. But you can gently brush and wipe their coat until the problem’s solved.
#11: Sudden aggression
Did your once sweet bunny become fierce?
This can happen if they’re stressed or sick.
But if a rabbit’s depressed, they’re not in the mood for anything.
So they may also snap at anyone who goes near them.
You might also like: Why does my rabbit bite me?
#12: Destructive behavior
It’s normal for rabbits to chew on things while exploring.
But if the behavior becomes extreme…
This might also be a sign of depression.
Especially if they destroy things suddenly for no reason.
And if they still do it after stopping them. As if they’re showing their frustration.
#13: Fur pulling
Do you notice any bald spots on your bunny?
Or fur all over your place?
Plucking of hair is a normal behavior in pregnant rabbits.
They do it to build nests. And based on a study, bunnies with fake pregnancies may also pull their fur.
But if your fur baby’s neither of the 2…
Then it might be a way for a depressed rabbit to stay busy. And keep themself calm like grooming.
Note: The things above can also be a sign of illness in rabbits. So it’s best to bring your bunny to the vet first for a checkup. Do this to cross out any medical condition they may have.
But if there’s none, find out the root of their depression as fast as you can as rabbits can die from it.
Then try some of the tips below.
How to cheer up a depressed rabbit?
#1: Bond more with them
Rabbits can get lonely if they’re left alone for so long.
Also, animals like them mourn too.
So if someone they knew passed away, they’ll likely be depressed.
But whichever the case is…
The easiest way to cheer up your bunny is to spend time with them.
At least 1 hour of bonding time will do.
However, it’ll be better if you can do 3-5 hours a day.
#2: Introduce a new fur buddy
It’s impossible to stay with your bunny at all times.
So to reduce their loneliness while you’re not around…
You may get another rabbit.
But although bunnies living in pairs are happier than those who aren’t…
Rabbits can be territorial.
Thus, it’s tough to introduce them.
That’s why keep the 2 pets separate at first. And let them meet in their cages until they’re familiar with each other.
Note: Best pairs are usually bunnies of the same age and size. Meanwhile, a neutered male often does well with a spayed female.
#3: Give them a bigger space
As I said earlier, rabbits must hop and move freely.
So if they can’t do this, they’ll be frustrated and dig their cage.
Thus, whether your bunny’s depressed or not…
Give them a comfier and bigger area.
For their shelter, PDSA suggests it to be 10 ft x 6 ft x 3 ft (3 m x 2 m x 1 m).
Meanwhile, rabbits also need a run or a place to play. Which could be the same size or bigger than their hutch.
#4: Enrich them with new toys
If your rabbit isn’t interested in their old stuff…
Try giving them novel toys. Or introduce new activities to them.
For things they can play with, here are some you may consider:
- Treat puzzles.
- Foraging mats.
- Cardboard boxes.
- Natural wicker balls.
- Small stools (or anything they can hop on).
Note: Don’t give all the toys to your rabbit at once. Use them alternately to avoid your bunny from getting bored.
#5: Get your bunny moving
Rabbits can also be depressed if not given a chance to use all their energy.
Remember, a fit bunny is a happy one.
So to prevent this or uplift their mood, exercise them for at least 3 hours daily.
You can do more than this if you have more time.
If your bunny refuses to move, be patient with them.
Use the new toys to lure your rabbit. Or let them play around in a room first, then slowly encourage them to run outdoors.
Note: Rabbit-proof your house before doing the last tip. Put away any electrical cords or sharp objects they may chew on. And install corner guards on the edges.
#BONUS: Stick to a schedule
Lastly, bunnies will be more relaxed if they have a routine.
It won’t fully cure their depression.
But since their life will be predictable, it can lessen their worries.
Plus, they know what to look forward to every day.
So, what do you need to do?
Fix a regular schedule for your rabbit that also works for you.
Feed and play with them at the same time daily. And stick to it.