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Rabbits/Why did my rabbit pass away?


Hello... Hope you are having a great day because I am not. We recently got 2 rabbits, an 8-month-old black one and a year-old grey one. They were adopted from a rescue where they had been friends nearly their whole lives so we picked them both up.

We had them for 5 days total. Day 1 we got the rabbits about 7 pm, then took the hour and a half drive home. They had a handful of food and lots of hay.

Day 2 we have the cage and stuff set up. They have a quarter cup of pellets each and plenty of hay. They warmed up to us quickly and we let them run in the empty hallway (literally just walls and tile floor) for about 15 minutes.

Day 3, the Black one stops eating. Assuming it's just depression or stress from the move...

Day 4 she has watery poop and still not eating... We weren't expecting a vet bill right off the bat and couldn't afford it after spending so much on their other supplies.

Day 5 both girls are returned to the rescue center.

It's a few days later now and I've been informed that the black one passed away due to GI stasis. I am still bawling my eyes out because she was okay until we took her home. I can't help but feel at fault. What could have caused this? Could we have prevented it? Did the rescue center not get them to the vet in time? Is there anything the vet could have done? Was it *really* me and my family's fault?

I'm so heartbroken and I desperately need some closure... And a way to cope with this loss and guilt.

Dear Faith,

It is possible the stress of the move caused the bunny's GI stasis, as illness or stress can both cause the GI tract to shut down.  But simple stress is not commonly the cause.  

There are so many possiblities here that I can't list them all.  She might have developed an infection that went systemic, causing the ileus as a secondary problem.  She might have had intestinal parasites that the stress of the move allowed to get the better of her.  She might have been exposed to something toxic in your house.  The list goes on.  It might help for you to read:


to understand what might have been going on.  But it's impossible to know without a necropsy.

I have no idea what the rescue group did to save the bunny, so can't comment on that.  

I am very sorry for this tragic outcome.



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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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