Rabbits can be strange little creatures. Silent and mysterious, alternating between sleeping for hours on end and hopping around wildly, it can be difficult to know when there's something wrong.
With cats, and especially dogs, it's often quite obvious when it's time for an appointment at the vet, as they have ways of letting you know when they're not feeling well. Rabbits, on the other hand, can be far trickier to diagnose. They might hide quietly away and not do very much when they're sick, but they might do that when they're feeling well, too. Here are the signs of some of the more common rabbit illnesses so you can keep an eye out for problems.
Refusing to eat
One of the most common problems rabbits face is dental trouble. Because their teeth never stop growing, they need to wear them down constantly by chewing on the right things, like good quality hay and the right veggies. If teeth overgrow or don't grow in the right way, it can be very uncomfortable for the rabbit, who won't want to eat.
A rabbit that won't eat could also be suffering from gastrointestinal stasis, where the digestive system shuts down. This can also happen in conjunction with dental pain. They should be presented with favourite foods to try and get them eating again as a rabbit that doesn't eat can develop severe problems very quickly. See a vet as soon as possible.
Dirty marks inside ears
Dirty, crusty-looking marks inside a rabbit's ears is most likely a sign of mites, so you should check regularly, especially with lop-eared breeds. This can be easily treated by a vet, but if left alone, it can develop into an infection and hearing loss.
Sniffling, sneezing and nasal discharge
This might signify Pasteurella, also known as snuffles. It is caused by a bacteria and might need to be treated with antibiotics. Snuffles can often happen when a rabbit has been through a stressful experience, so pay close attention if such an issue has occurred.
Because this is an alarming symptom, it will probably have you rushing to a vet immediately, and this is certainly what you should do. Facial swelling could be a sign of myxomatosis, a deadly mosquito-transmitted disease that should be taken extremely seriously. Never delay if you spot any kind of abnormal swelling on the face and around the eyes of your rabbit.