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Rabbits/Rabbit died in a car trip


Hello my baby dwarf rabbit just died in a 3 hour car trip and this is strange because he has made this trip before just fine. For the first two hours he was in his cage and his water bottle kept making a rattling noise so we stopped to take it out but I saw my bunny was very scared and shaking then he was laying no one side and breathing very heavy, I decided to take him in my lap to calm him down he did stop shaking but did not stop breathing fast I put him my coat to make it dark maybe he would like that and not feel so scared but I noticed he was not moving his front legs  when i tried putting him up against my chest his head would just fall back but i know he could move it because he would stick his head out from the jacket ( he was getting enough air i would leave it open andmove it back) and his mouth and eyes got wet and kept rubbing his mouth on his front legs. I tried to petting him but he didn't seem to like that so I left him alone. After 30 minutes he started shaking and running on his side like a seizure and pooped a lot while doing his it was wet and smelled very bad , then after this he yelled and stopped breathing . I am just heart broken by this I loved him very much and blame myself for this happening to him. I am thinking he had a heart attack but not sure please help me understand what I did wrong. Thank you

Dear Jessica,

I am sorry about the loss of your bunny.

Sadly, there is absolutely no way to confidently ascertain a cause of death without a post-mortem exam, preferably including histopathology of major organ tissues.  The signs you describe are very vague, and could have been due to any of dozens of different things. It is possible that the cause of death was stress from the car ride, but that is not a given.

If you noticed signs of unusual behavior before he died, then please read:

which might give some clues.  But unless you can provide a lot more specific information, this is the best I can offer.  

If the body has been kept very cold (not frozen), and it has been less than 24 hours since death, a necropsy may still be possible, if you feel that would give you closure and peace of mind.  You can find an experienced rabbit vet here:

to call and find out what your options might be.

I am very sorry for your loss.




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Dana Krempels, Ph.D.


I've lived with companion rabbits for more than 35 years, and consider them members of my family. I can answer any questions about the biology and health of rabbits, from the commonplace to the unusual. But please note:

RULE #1:

Find a rabbit vet at for immediate help, and don't risk your bunny's life by spending time asking questions online! If you can't get in touch with your vet, read these Emergency Sick Bunny Instructions.

If you have found a wild baby rabbit, please read these EMERGENCY INSTRUCTIONS FOR WILD BABY RABBITS and then use this link to FIND A LOCAL WILDLIFE REHABILITATOR who can give you the right advice.

RULE #2:
Help me help you! Please make your subject line informative if you have an urgent question. then LET ME KNOW IN THE SUBJECT LINE so I can give your question highest priority over non-urgent questions. If you don't do this, then I can't guarantee timely assistance!

For all the best, most accurate rabbit health, care and behavior information, visit The House Rabbit Society.


I have been rescuing and rehabilitating domestic and wild rabbits for about 30 years. I have written articles for many rabbit rescue publications, as well as for the veterinary journal, Exotic DVM. I own EtherBun, the internet's largest listserve dedicated to health, care, and behavior of domestic rabbits.

Houserabbit Adoption, Rescue, and Education, Inc. (H.A.R.E., Inc.) president National House Rabbit Society (Board member)

Exotic DVM
Warren Peace (Journal of the House Rabbit Society of Miami)
Various newsletters of the House Rabbit Society, nationwide

Ph.D - Biology
B.S. - Biology
B.A. - English

Awards and Honors
Lightspan Academic Excellence Award for web site on rabbit health and biology

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