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    Rabbit Diseases – Most Common Illnesses in Rabbits

    An important aspect of successful rabbit management is knowing the common rabbit diseases which can impact your animals and how to spot them. Rabbits are fantastic domesticated pets but given their close association to wild rabbits they tend to hide signs of illness until they are critically ill.

    Given this, pet rabbits should always be closely observed, and owners are encouraged to provide their pet with a correct diet, up to date vaccinations and regular health checks to prevent any rabbit diseases developing.

    Below are the most common rabbit diseases you should be aware of:

    • Snuffles
    • Myxomatosis
    • Overgrown Teeth
    • Mange in Rabbits
    • Eye Infection
    • Ear Infection
    • Pasteurella

    Snuffle in Rabbits

    Cause & Symptoms

    Snuffles is a respiratory rabbit disease caused by the bacterium Pasteurella Multocida, which can become endemic in a rabbitry.

    Transmission is mainly by direct contact with nasal secretions from infected rabbits.

    Snuffles in rabbits affects the eyes causing redness, squinting and discharge as well as sneezing from the nose, hence the name ‘Snuffles’.

    The Pasteurella in rabbits may also affect other parts of the body producing pneumonia, abscesses and uterine infections.


    Snuffles can be prevented by cleaning out your rabbit’s hutch and living area daily, scooping out soiled bedding and replacing it with clean bedding.

    If introducing a new rabbit to your existing rabbit household, a period of quarantine may be required as you observe your new pet closely to make sure the animal is not sneezing and has no discharges, snuffles can be caused from the stress of rehoming.


    Standard treatment involves a course of antibiotics and if an abscess has formed surgery will be required.


    Cause & Symptoms

    Myxomatosis is caused by the myxoma virus, a poxvirus which is spread by biting insects such as mosquitoes and fleas. It is a highly contagious disease and can also be spread through contact with an infected rabbit.

    The virus causes swelling and discharge from the eyes, nose and anogenital region of infected rabbits.


    In certain regions a combined vaccine is available to immunise your rabbit against myxomatosis and viral haemorrhagic disease, a single inoculation will provide immunity from both.

    Your pet insurance will cover this and you can find the best rabbit insurance here.

    To protect your rabbit from mosquitoes it is worthwhile putting mosquito netting around your rabbit’s hutch, even if indoors. Avoid letting your rabbits exercise outdoors in the early morning or late evening when mosquitoes are more numerous.


    At present, no specific treatment exists for myxomatosis, the illness is perpetually deadly.

    Overgrown Teeth 

    Cause & Symptoms

    Your rabbit’s teeth grow continuously throughout your pet’s life and may periodically require trims if not naturally worn down by chewing.

    While many of your rabbit’s teeth can grow too long, the most obvious are the incisors at the front of the mouth, they can grow so long that they begin to curve and stick out between your rabbit’s lips.

    Molars at the back of the mouth also grow excessively and can form sharp spikes which can damage the cheek and tongue.


    Providing your rabbit with a diet which is rich in fibre can help wear down your pet’s teeth. Grass and leafy vegetables like kale and hay are all good for your rabbit.


    The only treatment available is burring the teeth flat under a general anaesthetic.

    Mange in Rabbits 

    Cause & Symptoms

    Mange in rabbits comes in two forms Sarcoptic Mange and Trixacarus Caviae.

    Sarcoptic mange is an allergic reaction caused by the burrowing Sarcoptes scabei mites. It presents as a white crust along the mouth, eyes, nose and ears, and has a faint foul odour.

    While Trixacarus Caviae is a mange mite which burrows into the rabbit’s skin and can cause hair loss.

    With both, you may notice your rabbit scratching excessively as a mange-affected area is likely to itch and can be painful, it can also lead to depression and aggression in your rabbit.


    Mange can be prevented by cleaning out your rabbit’s hutch and living area thoroughly with disinfectant.

    Regular grooming should also take place and will remove the dead hair which mites may feed on.


    Mange in rabbits is treated with a course of ivermectin injections administered by your vet, most pet plans cover this.

    Eye Infection in Rabbits

    Cause & Symptoms

    Rabbits eyes are quite large and given their location on either side of the head it enables them to see things coming from both sides in the wild. Despite their benefits in the wild rabbits’ eyes have weaknesses.

    The most common rabbit eye infection is conjunctivitis which can result from allergies and bacterial or viral irritants, it is an inflammation of the pink flesh which surrounds the rabbit’s eye, also known as ‘pink-eye’. 

    The eye tends to look crusty and watery and your rabbit may blink more than usual.


    It is important to keep the hair around the eyes clean and as dry as possible to avoid any infection. A wet tissue or cotton ball can be used to clean out the eyes regularly.


    Most bunny eye infections can be treated with a course of eye drops provided by your vet.

    Ear Infection in Rabbits 

    Cause & Symptoms

    Rabbits have highly sensitive ears and are prone to both ear infections and ear mite infestations.

    Given the large size of their ears any small build-up of dirt can cause bacterial growth leading to rabbit ear infection.

    Signs of such infection include head tilting, loss of appetite, discharge and rabbit fever.

    Ear mites cause itchiness and some discomfort, so your rabbit may scratch their neck and ears more than usual and have scaly, peeling skin around the ear area.


    Most rabbits naturally clean their ears and bonded rabbits will also clean each other’s ears.

    However, a standard part of every rabbit consult is an ear exam and your vet should be able to determine how vulnerable your rabbit will be to ear infections and will discuss the signs with you.


    Your vet will prescribe a course of antibiotics to treat bacterial ear infections, they may also recommend anti-inflammatories if your pet is showing signs of discomfort.

    Pasteurella in Rabbits

    Cause & Symptoms

    The most common cause of respiratory disease in rabbits is Pasteurella Multocida, it primarily causes rhinitis in rabbits and can present itself as an upper respiratory tract infection.

    Pasteurella in rabbits is manifested by purulent nasal discharge, sneezing and coughing, and yellow staining of fur on the forelimbs.


    A clean, dry, well-ventilated environment is required with no draughts. Rabbits can withstand cold better than heat, and fluctuations in temperature should be avoided with a temperature maintained at around 16 to 20 degrees.


    Rabbits should receive long-term systemic antibiotics which are normally selected for their efficacy against the organism.