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Rabbits/unexpected rabbit death


i have a friend who's lion head rabbit died yesterday unexpected.
so my question is to try and find an answer to why it died.

my friend has several house cats all to which have lice and all live in the house. the rabbit which lived outside in a cage since i've been around was just recently moved in the house due to the cold weather. the rabbit was perfectly healthy before coming inside. and the last few days my friend seem to have thought it had caught the lice that she has been unable to kill off the cats. she noticed it yestday before it passed have a thick muccus around its nose and a rough sounding breath. she clean its nose off and it seamed fine and then a few hours later she found it dead.

so would the lice have the effect to kill the rabbit or what could have casued it?


Hi Thomas
Sorry to hear of the loss of this bunbun.

Sadly it's really tricky to tell exactly what happened. The snotty nose is a sign of an upper respiratory infection, most commonly caused by a bacterial infection. Rabbits can develop so many problems very quickly, a respiratory problem can escalate. At first sign of snotty nose a bun really needs to see a vet. With the lice, not all will cross to different species, but biting insects can pass on nasties. The nastiest is VHD, which doesn't exist in some countries but does kill very quickly, the second nastiest being myxomatosis. Myxi usually takes 2-4 weeks or so to kill though, and involves swollen eyes and snotty nose. The snotty nose and rough breathing could even have indicated pneumonia.

Unfortunately, trying to work out exactly what happened is just guessing :( they can be such fragile creatures with so many ailments. The only way to ever know exactly the cause is to have a vet do a post mortem.

Sorry I couldn't have been more help.


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I can answer questions around the welfare of pet rabbits, basic health queries including gut stasis, diet worries, bonding questions and the proper welfare standards around housing rabbits (i.e. no wire floors, no small cages and they should be kept in properly bonded de-sexed pairs in very large enclosures). I cannot answer showing questions nor complex breeding issues as I do not agree with either, seeing the other end of the story in the world of rabbit rescue.


I have two 7 year old rescue rabbits and volunteer for a well established rabbit rescue here in the UK, both physically doing cleaning out etc and I am also their events and awareness co-oordinator, helping educate the general public on proper rabbit keeping, this means I have to ensure all information I give is correct and matches current welfare standards.

I belong to the RWAF (Rabbit Welfare Association & Fund) and volunteer for a major rabbit rescue.

I have no formal education on this subject, however read everything I can to keep up to date with current welfare standards and health problems. Both my rabbits have sensitive guts and constantly keep me on my toes.

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