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Danielle, Animal Care Expert
Category: Pet
Satisfied Customers: 246
Experience:  10+ years experience with rodents and rabbits, 7+ years experience with freshwater fish and reptiles
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baby bunny dies without reason

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We had a dwarf blue lop bunny that was the runt of the litter. He seemed very healthy, happy and active for the first 2 months, but died quickly and without reason...any ideas what causes these critters to just up and die? We fed him rabbit food only, tons of water and its bedding did not have cedar. He had plenty of room to roam. Many folks have mentioned they have had rabbits in the past and they had a hard time keeping them alive. Any help is appreciated. Thank you!
How old was he?

Where did you get him? Was it from a breeder? If so, do you know at what age he was weened?

Did he have any alfalfa hay at all?

Were you feeding him alfalfa pellets?

How were his bathroom habits? Was he pooing and peeing okay? Any diarrea? Any small or dry feces?

How was he acting within a few hours before he died? Was he hunched over, lethargic, or grinding his teeth?

Was he kept indoors or outdoors?
Customer: replied 10 years ago.
Reply to Danielle's Post: Thank you for replying. My stepdaughter's mother bought him by answering an ad in the newspaper. I am uncertain if he was purchased by a breeder or not. The bunny was weened at 6 weeks old, and we had him for an additional 3-4 weeks prior to his death. He was kept inside at all times. He was lethargic just a few hours prior to his death. His heart beat seemed fine (not racing) but he did not move at all. I am uncertain about the alfalfa hay and pellets - the "other" mom sent the food and bedding. His bedding was soft to the touch. As far as his feces goes, it was always small...but then again, he only weighed about 2 pounds if that. I did notice that his "pee" was brown the last week...I'm wondering now if that was pee or diarrea. Very small amounts though (half of a dime size?)
Amy, please stay online while I type you out a detailed answer. One more question; was he fed any vegetables at all? If so, which vegetables and how much?
Customer: replied 10 years ago.
Reply to Danielle's Post: Nothing other than pellets hit his belly. Also, I found out that he was purchased from a breeder. She seems to think his bedding was sawdust? I'll be around - ask away...
Amy, being that he was about 10 weeks old, he should've been fine and healthy. Rabbits are resilient little animals, however they are more prone to illness when younger.

There are Alfalfa hay and pellets, and Timothy hay and pellets. Alfalfa hay and pellets should be offered to a rabbit at all times until they are 6-8 months old. This is because alfalfa contains more protein for a growing rabbit than Timothy hay and pellets. Once a rabbit is an adult, they should be switched to Timothy. If he did not have any alfalfa hay, then that put him as risk of getting a blockage, due to inadequate fiber in his diet. However, if he was pooping, then he wasn't blocked.

If his pee was brown, this is not normal. This could one of two things. Either it was blood in his urine, which would indicate either a urinary tract infection, or an internal injury. Urinary tract infections, while painful, are usually not deadly. And even so, they do not kill that quickly. An internal injury, however, is a different story. Internal injuries can be caused so easy in baby rabbits due to their small size. This can come from being handled or picked up wrong, and can happen without you even noticing. This would also cause blood in his urine, giving it a brown color.

The second possibility of the brown urine is, as you said, diarrea. This is more common in baby
rabbits, and can be very deadly. Diarrea in a small rabbit can be caused by internal or intestinal parasites, or a bacteria present in the intestine. The number one disease in young rabbits that causes diarrea is called Coccidiosis. It is very deadly if left untreated, and is usually a "silent" killer. It causes excessive thirst, swollen stomach (though sometimes not always noticeable, since it'll appear that the young rabbit is just growing up), and substantial diarrea. The diarrea will sometimes be so fierce, that it'll appear as liquid, just like urine.

If it was indeed diarrea, two other diseases that are also common in young rabbits are Tyzzer's Disease and Mucoid Enteritis. Tyzzer's disease is most common in rabbits right after they are weaned, usually within a few weeks. Your little guy would fall into this time frame. Tyzzers disease causes diarrea, which usually results in lethargy and dehydration. Tyzzer's disease is an organism caused by bacteria living in the lining of the lower intestines and colon. Tyzzer's disease is treatable only to a certain extent, as the mortality rate is around 90%. It's, unfortunately, a very deadly disease.

Mucoid Enteritis is another possibility which causes diarrea, and is common in rabbits around 4-12 weeks of age. However, this possibility is less likely in your little guy, since more symptoms are present than just diarrea. This includes a very swollen stomach which feels as hard as a rock to the touch, bad dehydration, lack of appetite, and a thick mucus in the feces.

As far as the bedding goes, I'm willing to bet that it look something like this:

This is pine shavings, which vary in size from maker to maker. Some pine shavings are thick and large, while others are as thin and dusty as saw dust. While pine shavings can irritate the lining of the lungs in small animals, it doesn't cause intestinal problems unless ingested. And if ingested, it will cause a blockage, inhibiting the rabbit's ability to produce feces at all.

Hope this helps!
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