Common Medical Conditions

I havef a colt in my nose

Rabbits do not get “colds” like we do. If you see a discharge of any color coming from your rabbit’s nose, it is a warning signal to get it to the vet as soon as possible. “Snuffles”, which is a bacterial infection (pasteurella multicoda), will only spread further in your rabbit’s body, weakening the immune system and shortening your rabbit’s life. Antibiotic therapy is called for here so do not hesitate to go to the veterinarian. We have many antibiotics available now that can and do arrest this disease. A practiced rabbit vet will also know to check the teeth and molars of the rabbit, feel for lumps around the neck/head, and look into the ears. Infection spreads quickly in rabbits, and a simple cracked back molar could lead to bone loss and root infection. A culture can be made from deep inside the nasal cavity and from the culture and sensitivity test the appropriate antibiotic can be chosen to give to your rabbit.

Other signs of a bacterial infection include watery eyes with a discharge of color, exudates (or pus) in a rabbit’s ears or abscesses on its feet or body. Obviously, this is not to be taken lightly but would clearly be a time to visit your veterinarian. Pasteurella, along with other bacteria, are resident in these mammals and also in avian species. When a trauma, such as an injury or puncture occurs or simply a lowering of the immune system happens, bacteria will overgrow, often resulting in an infection in your rabbit. Rabbits are far more fragile than not, and you will need to be observant of your rabbit’s overall health in order to see what is normal and what is not normal.

Ear Mites

Ear mites are fairly common in our rabbits, as they are in cats and dogs. A simple shot or drops (Ivermectin) in your rabbit’s ears by your veterinarian will solve this problem. If you allow the ear mites to multiply, your rabbit will only stay in pain for a longer period of time and complications from the ear mites can and often does occur. These complications include seizures and death. This is NOT to be taken lightly. Also, it is important to know that you should not clean out the ears for perhaps three days after the shot of Ivermectin has been given. The reason for this is the rabbit’s ears are in a great deal of pain, and if the mites have broken through any of the membranes including the tympanae and/or brain pan, any fluid that you place in the ear could go into an area of the rabbit’s body that would be harmful.

You can place a drop or so (and I mean a drop!) of olive oil into the rabbit’s ear – coating the inner layer of mite crust so that it softens. I have seen a rabbit come in whose ears were totally covered in mites and the crust continued around the neck and down the back. So if you see a black crust forming inside of your rabbit’s ear, the chances if it being the ear mite is quite possible. Please bring your rabbit in to see your vet – just imagine if that mite were in YOUR ear! It will also be up to your vet to determine whether to put your rabbit on an antibiotic to avoid secondary infection.


Torticollis (wry neck) is a condition in which the rabbit usually has an inner ear infection caused by a bacterium (often pasteurella). The rabbit will experience “motion sickness” (we give ginger pills for part of the condition). Often the rabbit’s eye (most often the eye pointing upwards) will result in nystagmus (darting back and forth of the eye). The rabbit’s neck will turn to one side or the other. This is a horribly painful condition and can be arrested before it progresses. Again, if you see any of these symptoms occurring, a vet visit is imperative to catch the disease! Head radiographs and a thorough look at the head structure of the rabbit is a must!

Another cause of wry neck is a migrating protozoa named e. cunniculi. A blood test can be given to ascertain whether this is the culprit or not. Obviously, this condition is serious and warrants an immediate visit to your vet. A rabbit with this condition will require extra care and watching until it can recover. Often the rabbit will not recover completely, but will have a slight tilt to one side.


Heatstroke can and does occur down here in Texas, particularly if you house your rabbit in a hutch in the back yard. There are many ways to house your rabbit and keep it safe from the elements. Explore those options with us at All about your rabbit’s home and protect your rabbit from death by predators or heat. Heatstoke is a serious life-threatening condition that warrants a swift visit to either your rabbit-friendly emergency room or your vet.