As your rabbits get older, not only do they become calmer, but the care requirements for you as the owner change as well.
In this article, we’ll tell you how to tell if your pet is already showing the first signs of old age and what you should do to give your older rabbit the best care possible.
How old do rabbits get?
With good care, a domestic rabbit can reach an age between 8 and 12 years. Depending on the breed, life expectancy varies a bit.
Rabbits age much faster than we humans do.
If you want to know how old your rabbit is at this moment in human years, this table will help you get an overview:
Do our domestic rabbits get older than wild rabbits?
Yes, as a rule, our domesticated domestic rabbits grow older than wild animals.
This is partly due to the fact that rabbits in the wild fall victim to their predators much more quickly, and also due to the fact that sick rabbits are usually not treated by a veterinarian and therefore die of easily treatable diseases.
In addition, the food supply in the cold winter months is very scarce and many wild rabbits simply starve or freeze to death.
While your rabbit has a good chance to reach an age of about 10 years if kept optimally, most wild rabbits do not even survive their first winter. Theoretically, however, even a wild rabbit is capable of reaching an age of about 9 years.
10 signs: How to recognize senility in rabbits
If your rabbit is starting to get old and senile, then you will notice some changes in your pet.
By recognizing the signs early, you can address your rabbit’s needs to help him live a wonderful life even in old age.
The following 10 signs are indicative of advancing senility in rabbits:
- the coat color changes
Not only will human hair become grayer or whiter with age, but your rabbit’s fur will also become lighter. It is possible that while the coat color itself will remain dark, your rabbit will become whiter around the eyes or nose.
The fur in and around the ears will often turn gray as well.
- your rabbit’s eyesight will diminish
The older your rabbit gets, the worse his eyesight becomes. In addition, there are also some eye diseases that your rabbit will become more susceptible to.
These include the following diseases:
Blocked tear ducts
Cataracts can be congenital or acquired during a rabbit’s life. In many cases, a cataract can be operated on and improvement in vision occurs.
If the cataract is not operated on, the foggy haze in the animal’s field of vision will continue to thicken until it eventually goes blind.
If your rabbit suffers from blocked tear ducts, this condition can be identified by the watery eyes. In some cases the blockage will clear itself, in other cases massage will help and sometimes a trip to the vet to have the tear duct flushed is essential.
Conjunctivitis can be caused by dry air as well as by a foreign body. In this case, the eyelid is red and swollen and should be treated immediately, otherwise the inflammation can lead to glaucoma or blindness.
Glaucoma is caused by increased intraocular pressure or circulatory disorders. Consequently, the nerve fibers of the optic nerves slowly die, resulting in blindness if left untreated.
- your rabbit’s hearing deteriorates
Your rabbit’s hearing is very important for the animal, because it can detect possible sources of danger with the help of its ears.
It’s even worse for your rabbit if his hearing deteriorates as he gets older.
Signs of decreased hearing are increased jumpiness and ‘ignoring’ commands or your call.
Therefore, be more careful to act slowly and predictably around your rabbit and make sure he is aware of your presence before you touch him.
- your rabbit has an increased need for sleep
As your rabbit gets older, you will notice that he becomes quieter overall and retreats to sleep more.
While your rabbit had oodles of energy available to him when he was younger, recharging his battery becomes more important as he ages.
Allow the animal its rest and do not wake it up.
If you want to occupy yourself with your rabbit, wait until the evening hours, when the main activity time of your rabbit takes place.
- the body does not want to move as it did when it was young
Old rabbits move differently than young animals.
Thus, you will notice that your animal’s gait becomes increasingly stiff. In addition, your rabbit may have problems standing up or its hind legs may often fall off.
Also jumping does not work as well as it used to.
Therefore, make sure that your rabbit always has access to fresh water and food, even in old age, and place these elements at floor level.
- your rabbit can no longer keep itself sufficiently clean.
Rabbits are naturally very clean animals and will clean their fur several times a day.
As your rabbit gets older, these cleaning actions become more and more difficult. Your rabbit’s bottom in particular should be kept clean at all times to prevent urine scalding.
If you notice that your rabbit has a lot of problems keeping his bottom clean, you should wash your rabbit’s bottom from time to time.
- your rabbit loses weight
Aged rabbits are more prone to dental diseases and digestive problems.
If you notice that your rabbit is gaining or losing weight, you should adjust the feeding to your rabbit’s new needs.
Also, check your rabbit’s teeth regularly and take him to a veterinarian if the weight problems are not under control.
- your rabbit is more sensitive to changes in weather and temperature.
Rabbits are very sensitive by nature and tend to handle temperature changes poorly.
However, as they get older, this problem intensifies a bit more, so it is not recommended to keep old rabbits completely outdoors.
Instead, bring your rabbit indoors with you, and only put him outside in a secured run for a few hours when the temperature is comfortable and the weather is good.
- your rabbit gets problems with breathing
Respiratory infections are unfortunately not uncommon in older rabbits.
Respiratory infections are fueled by lots of dust and dirt, so you should clean your rabbit’s hutch more frequently. Also, make sure your hay and bedding have very little dust.
It can also be helpful to moisten the hay you feed a little.
- kidney problems and urinary tract infections
Older rabbits are especially prone to bladder infections and bladder weakness.
You can easily tell if your rabbit is one of the affected animals by regularly checking your rabbit’s urine.
Bloody urine is a fairly obvious sign of a bladder problem. Urine scalding and yellow paws also indicate that something is wrong with your rabbit.
Kidney problems can be indicated by a change in drinking behavior: If you notice that your rabbit is suddenly drinking a lot of liquid, then a problem with the kidneys is very obvious and you should consult a veterinarian to have the whole thing clarified – because kidney problems are not to be trifled with!
4 tips: How to take care of an older rabbit!
To give your rabbit a long and healthy retirement, there are a few things you should pay attention to.
1) Regularly check the general condition of your rabbit.
Observe your rabbit’s eating and drinking habits, as well as his activity, movement, and behavior toward his peers.
Changes in any of these may be a red flag.
If you notice that your rabbit’s general condition is deteriorating, it is advisable to visit your veterinarian for a detailed consultation.
It may also be a good idea to have your rabbit’s urine tested regularly, as the condition of the urine can be an excellent indicator of your rabbit’s well-being.
2) Make sure your rabbit is getting an optimal supply of calcium.
Calcium is essential for older rabbits to stay healthy and fit.
However, it is important to make sure that your rabbit is not taking in too much calcium.
The best way to detect excess calcium is through the consistency of the urine: If the urine is thick or even almost paste-like, then you should definitely reduce the supply of calcium.
- a rolling stone gathers no moss
Exercise is essential for a long rabbit life.
Make sure your rabbit gets enough exercise, even in old age, and even has to get a little, to meet his needs.
Exercise keeps your rabbit fit, boosts circulation and has a positive effect on your rabbit’s digestion. Also, make sure the surface of the run is soft to allow your rabbit to move without pain.
- adjust the feeding of your rabbits
Especially in old age, it is important that your rabbit can consume enough nutrients. Therefore, discuss the optimal feeding with your veterinarian and, if necessary, supplement the feed with one or two additional vitamin supplements.
My name is Mark and the senior editor
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