Whether your rabbit lives inside or outside, they may find it hard to cope with fireworks season. Rabbits are masters at hiding how they feel and don’t typically like to make a fuss. Therefore it can take a real Sherlock Holmes to figure out when they are feeling anxious.
Signs of distress in rabbits
As they are prey animals, rabbits can be quite prone to stress and don’t cope well with new situations. Some of the signs of distress that pet rabbits will show are:
- Agitated Movements. You may think your bunny is getting their exercise in when they start foot stomping and running about but this is actually a sign of adrenaline coursing through their little bodies.
- Escape attempts. As with cats, some rabbits will try hard to get out of their home or enclosure if they suddenly hear loud bangs. They could potentially injure themselves if they are being frantic so need to be closely supervised.
- Staying still. Staying still is what prey animals do very well. They are silently hoping that if they stay completely still and quiet, the threat will go away. Some will mistake this for their rabbit being calm but, on close inspection, they will be unusually still and may also be breathing fast and trembling slightly.
- Going off their food. Rabbits need to graze constantly but many won’t feel like eating when feeling very stressed. Not eating for more than a few hours can be especially dangerous and can potentially lead to a condition known as ‘gut stasis’. If left untreated, in severe cases this could even prove fatal.
Top tips on helping your rabbit cope with fireworks
While there might not be as many organised fireworks display this year because of the Covid-19 outbreak, it is likely people will still be setting off fireworks in their own back gardens. To help our bunnies cope with this source of stress, there are certain things that can be done:
- For those who are allowed indoors, this is the best place for them. Keep curtains closed and try to keep them in the middle of the home, away from the bright lights and noises coming from outside. Have the TV or radio on in an attempt to drown out loud outdoor sounds. If they must stay in their hutch, consider bringing the hutch inside temporarily.
- If having the rabbits inside is a no-go, cover their enclosure with a thick blanket and/or move their hutch inside the garage or shed so they are at least provided with some shelter.
- Provide extra bedding so your rabbit can ‘bury’ themselves deep inside, drowning out any external noises and flashes of light.
- Safety in numbers! Don’t separate your rabbits as this would only cause further stress and they feel calmer when they have company of their own kind.
Sadly, rabbits can be so frightened by fireworks that the stress can even cause them to pass away in rare cases. Due to this, it is vital that we do all we can to keep them stress-free.