If one of your rabbit’s ears hangs conspicuously to the ground or if you notice an unnatural posture, quick action is required.
The ears of your rabbit are very sensitive.
What to do in case of injuries to the ears, you will learn in this article.
Can rabbit ears break?
Yes, rabbit ears can break. Although there are no bones in them, the cartilage can be injured as well. However, this is usually a crack and not, strictly speaking, a break.
Rabbit ears and cartilage
The ears are made of elastic cartilage, which is very flexible and pliable. It is supplied with nutrients through fine blood vessels and contains a lot of fluid.
Bones, however, are not part of the structure.
A fracture is not normally possible, since ossifications must be present for this, which, although rare, can nevertheless occur. So a fracture cannot be completely dismissed out of hand.
Even if there is no fracture, the cartilage can suffer damage.
Injuries to the ears should therefore always be taken seriously!
These can occur, for example, due to the following influences:
If the cartilage is bent or overstretched too much, several or one large tear can form. The cartilage tissue does not heal completely, leaving a groove or raised area.
If the supply via the bloodstream is interrupted, this can also produce (permanent) damage.
A bruise is typical, leading to swelling and discoloration.
This subsides after a few days to a few weeks, but is painful and can appear worrying to the outside world. If this is the case, a veterinarian must be consulted. This is because tissue death can occur due to the interrupted blood supply.
This can even cause blood poisoning, which in turn can lead to death.
Early veterinary treatment is also necessary to reduce the pain and the feeling of pressure. If necessary, the bruise must be punctured to relieve the discomfort.
Administration of pain medication or anti-inflammatories may also be necessary.
In addition, disfigurement such as the so-called cauliflower ear or a permanently bent ear, may occur.
Postural disorders due to injuries to the ear
With injuries to the ear, it is possible for mobility to become permanently restricted and altered.
For example, a previously standing ear may suddenly become bent or droop. Likewise, it may no longer be able to be turned or may be laid back.
The reason for this is damage to the cartilage on the one hand and injuries to the muscles on the other. This changes the control your rabbit still has over the ear.
Surgery may be necessary to improve or maintain the supply of tissue. So even if there is no swelling or visible bleeding, you should consult a veterinarian if there is an abrupt change in posture.
Before doing so, you can palpate the ear yourself. Redness, warmth, and tenderness indicate a tear or other injury.
The risk for torn cartilage is much higher in rabbits with very long ears.
Aries, among others, are therefore more frequently affected. But some precautions are advised not only for them.
The following tips will not only benefit the ears, but health in general.
In very large cages and hutches that have several floors, especially smaller rabbits can fall quickly.
If they fall sideways and thus onto an ear, the cartilage can be damaged. Even if it doesn’t break in the process, a concussion, bruising, broken bones or internal bleeding can occur.
To prevent these dangers, when choosing or building the rabbit home, you should make sure that the stairs are not directly above each other. In addition, the distances between the floors should not be too large.
A thick layer of bedding acts as a cushion should a fall still occur.
However, the risk of ear injury is not unique to the cage.
High obstacles in the enclosure, during free running or when lifting can also lead to this. Rabbits can easily jump onto a chair or coffee table when running free in the home. However, if they are startled, they may flee and fall.
The situation is similar when carrying.
Some rabbits put up with this without any problems. Others are frightened and resist. Practice lifting and carrying gradually and always be prepared for sudden movements.
A firm grip and great caution can prevent injury even in moments of fright.
Secure doors and windows
Doors and windows can become traps during free running.
So take care yourself not to close them without first checking. Tame rabbits like to follow their owners, so in an unguarded moment, their body, ear or paw may find itself between the door and the frame.
Since drafts can cause the door to close suddenly, you should also install a doorstop or, in the case of windows, a slam protection. This will prevent the door from closing completely, which can prevent worse injuries.
Use natural materials
Rabbits are prey animals and are therefore skittish.
Loud noises, rapid movement in the environment or any other perceived threat can cause them to take flight.
However, in cages, the enclosure or the home, they may encounter obstacles in doing so. Whether they run against it or jump: If an ear is currently in an unfavorable position, the cartilage can be significantly injured in the process.
Besides the ears, it is mainly the head and teeth that are susceptible to fractures and other wounds.
Natural and softer materials are better than plastic and metal in these cases. Edges, corners and sharp sections, on the other hand, should be avoided. So also pay attention to safety when free-range in the room. Preferably use wood, straw and cork in the cage.
Treatment for ear injuries
If the rabbit’s ear appears to be broken, a cast is not an option. A bandage cannot be implemented either. However, it is important to relieve pain and swelling.
In addition to medication and, if necessary, puncturing to remove fluid, it may help to ice the affected ear.
In addition, your rabbit should move to a secured and smaller area if you keep multiple animals. This is because even an accidental heavy touch from another rabbit can be enough to cause renewed pain, aggravate the injury, or even start fights.
Nevertheless, place the quarantine cage close to the accustomed accommodation. This will make the temporary transition easier and allow the animals to continue to see, hear and smell each other.
Follow the veterinarian’s instructions when administering the medication and monitor your rabbit closely. This is because the condition can deteriorate rapidly.
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