Can a Rabbit Die From Being Scared?

I do know you’ve heard that it’s doable for rabbits to be actually scared to demise. I’ve even had somebody ask me if it’s okay to the touch a rabbit as a result of they heard it might scare the rabbit a lot that they’d die. The story goes that the rabbit will get frightened by one thing, then instantly drops lifeless as a consequence of a coronary heart assault.

More often than not, I’m right here to bust myths about rabbits, however this time there’s really some fact in it. Rabbits can be scared to demise. That being mentioned, it’s a lot much less frequent than individuals are led to imagine.

It’s extremely unlikely for a home rabbit to die of fright except there’s a predator close by that the rabbit is unable to cover from. In these instances, the rabbit’s coronary heart charge might improve dramatically inflicting a coronary heart assault instantly, or they could go into shock and die hours later.

How frequent is it for rabbits to die of fright?

Although you would possibly see a number of warnings that your rabbit can get a coronary heart assault and die from being too scared, it’s not a typical prevalence. I’ve labored with lots of of rabbits in a shelter setting the place they’re surrounded by unusual sights, scents, and even predator animals (cats and canine) and not one of the rabbits have even come near dying of fright. 

Should you preserve your rabbit at dwelling in a secure setting (usually indoors is best) with locations they will disguise, it’s extremely unlikely that they’ll get so scared that they’ll die. Don’t get me improper, all rabbits will get just a little frightened typically, however a small quantity of worry is just not going to kill a rabbit.

That being mentioned, you don’t need to utterly ignore the danger that your rabbit might get too scared. It’s unlikely for home rabbits to die of fright, however that doesn’t imply it’s inconceivable. You probably have a extremely anxious rabbit, a rabbit with identified well being dangers, or a rabbit who may be very previous or younger, they’re at the next threat of creating coronary heart failure or going into shock after they get too scared.

In these instances, you’ll need to take some further precautions. Make certain no predators come close to your rabbit, and provides your rabbit house to run away, hiding spots, and indoor residing locations. You additionally would possibly need to assist your rabbit turn out to be extra assured and desensitize your rabbit to frequent scary sounds (resembling fireworks) in order that they’ll be much less prone to be frightened sufficient to have a coronary heart assault or go into shock.

Rabbit in towel
If a rabbit begins to enter shock, their physique temperature will start to fall. Preserving your rabbit heat is step one to serving to them get well.

Will rabbits die from a coronary heart assault instantly?

Some rabbits who get too scared may have an instantaneous coronary heart assault and die, however that’s really not the probably end result. It’s extra frequent for rabbits to enter shock, inflicting their physique to close down. They may begin shaking, their muscle groups will turn out to be limp, whereas their blood stress drops dramatically. 

Should you ever discover these signs, contact your vet instantly. In these instances, it will probably take hours or days earlier than the rabbit dies. However it additionally means there’s a likelihood you may assist your rabbit get well earlier than their physique shuts down utterly.

rabbits thumps to warn dog
Most rabbits will thump and run away after they see a predator. If they’re completely terrified, their coronary heart charge might improve inflicting a coronary heart assault, nevertheless it’s fairly uncommon.

Concern of predators may cause a rabbit coronary heart assault

Personally, I’ve by no means identified a rabbit who was so scared that they died. The one second-hand story that I do know is from a employees member at a rescue middle I volunteered with. She defined that she knew a really younger rabbit who died of a coronary heart assault after a canine barked proper subsequent to them. 

That is the kind of state of affairs that’s probably to result in a sudden-fright coronary heart assault in rabbits. It occurs when a predator is close by and the rabbit feels threatened and unable to flee. This will occur even when there is no such thing as a manner for the predator to get to the rabbit (if there’s a safe fence or barrier between them). This is likely one of the causes that it’s safer to maintain rabbits indoors. Every part from racoons, snakes, neighborhood canine, cats, foxes, and huge birds can prey on rabbits.

You probably have a canine or cat as a part of your family, chances are you’ll must take some precautions to maintain your rabbit from feeling too scared. This relies totally on the character of your rabbit. If they’re a reasonably assured rabbit, they could be positive sharing their dwelling along with your cat or canine. Nevertheless, timid and anxious rabbits ought to have a room to themself the place the opposite pets can’t come and scare them.

A trapped rabbit can die from being too scared

The opposite extra documented explanation for death-by-fear in rabbits is when they’re chased and trapped. It is a phenomenon referred to as seize myopathy, and it’s a situation that impacts wild animals (together with rabbits) nearly completely. It’s extremely unusual for a home rabbit to undergo from seize myopathy, though it’s doable.

Seize myopathy occurs when the rabbit is chased and trapped in an enclosed house with nowhere to cover or run. The struggle or flight response might be triggered, however there’s nothing the rabbit can do in response, so their physique continues to be stressed. Typically it will probably trigger the rabbit to die instantly, and typically it will probably take a variety of hours or days.

rabbit cowering from shadows
Keep away from crowding or cornering your rabbit, particularly if they’ve a timid character. They will simply be scared overwhelmed when they’re surrounded by folks.

Different causes of fright in rabbits that may doubtlessly result in demise

The presence of predators and seize myopathy are the 2 most typical ways in which I’ve heard of rabbits dying of fright. Nevertheless, something that critically scares a rabbit has the potential to trigger a coronary heart assault or push them into shock. These are some frequent eventualities the place chances are you’ll need to be notably cautious:

  • Fireworks. Since fireworks are very loud bangs and weird sounds that may proceed for a few hours, this may pose a risk if there’s a fireworks show close to your own home.
  • Lengthy automobile rides or airplanes. Rabbits can get severely stressed when they’re in automobiles because of the vibrations and weird sounds. If you’re taking an extended automobile experience, ensure to take frequent stops to provide your rabbit an opportunity to relax.
  • Too many kids or folks giving a timid rabbit undesirable consideration. Many rabbits are very timid round folks. If they’re surrounded by folks (kids particularly) with no manner of escaping, it may be a scary state of affairs for the rabbit.

I need to reiterate, it’s uncommon for rabbits to get so scared that they’ve a coronary heart assault or go into shock. This isn’t meant to scare you. As an alternative, I simply need you to pay attention to frequent risks so that you may be ready and take precautions the place mandatory.

What’s going to most likely not trigger a rabbit to die of fright

I don’t need to scare you an excessive amount of. You don’t must tiptoe round your rabbit on a regular basis. More often than not when a rabbit will get scared, they’ll get well pretty shortly. These are some eventualities which will scare your rabbit, however most likely gained’t trigger them to enter shock:

  • The vacuum or loud indoor noise. Most rabbits are afraid of the sound of a vacuum cleaner, however I’ve by no means even heard of a rabbit who went into shock due to it. It’s nonetheless finest to keep away from turning the vacuum on instantly subsequent to your rabbit and ensure they’ve a spot to run and conceal.
  • A thunderstorm. Thunderstorms are typically so much much less jarring than fireworks with the sounds taking place a lot much less continuously. The loudest elements of thunderstorms additionally don’t final almost so long as a fireworks show, so it’s unlikely to scare your rabbit a lot that they go into shock.
  • A canine barking in a separate room in the home or exterior. Typically, if there’s a stable barrier (a door or a wall) between the rabbit and the predator, they’re unlikely to get so scared that they go into shock.

Components that make a rabbit extra vulnerable to being frightened to demise

Wholesome grownup rabbits aren’t very prone to die of fright. However there are at all times elements to think about that may put your rabbit extra in danger. Take into account all of those elements that can assist you decide how at-risk your rabbit is.

  • Aged and younger rabbits. Younger rabbits are sometimes not used to all of the doable noises of the world and usually tend to really feel scared quicker. Aged rabbits usually tend to have well being points that make them extra vulnerable to coronary heart assaults.
  • Rabbits residing exterior. Outside rabbits are more likely to return into contact with predators regularly.
  • Rabbits with shy or anxious personalities. Timid rabbits will get scared at sounds and smells {that a} extra assured rabbit will ignore.
  • Rabbits who’re frightened for lengthy durations of time. The longer a rabbit is in a tense or horrifying state of affairs, the extra possible that they’ll expertise damaging well being penalties, particularly if there’s one other sudden scare to push them over the sting.
  • Wild rabbits. Wild rabbits have extra fearful instincts than home rabbits, making them extra vulnerable to going into shock if they’re held captive.
rabbit sniffing treats
Give your timid rabbit some small items of treats to encourage them to be courageous and are available out of hiding. Over time, they’ll turn out to be extra assured total.

How one can forestall your rabbit from getting too scared

If you’re apprehensive that your rabbit is susceptible to going into shock or having a coronary heart assault as a consequence of excessive worry, you can also make some modifications to their residing setting to assist forestall it. 

  • Maintain your rabbit indoors. It will assist your rabbit really feel safer and extra in charge of their environment.
  • Maintain their dwelling setting quiet and secure. A quiet and calm residing house retains your rabbit’s stress ranges low.
  • Assist timid rabbits overcome anxiousness and achieve confidence. The extra assured a rabbit is, the extra resilient they’ll be within the face of sudden hazard. They’ll be extra prepared to strategy the world with curiosity as a substitute of hysteria. (Study extra about learn how to assist)
  • Make certain your rabbit has locations to cover. A rabbit who can disguise will really feel much less uncovered in harmful conditions.
  • Don’t make your rabbit really feel trapped. Keep away from chasing your rabbit, and at all times ensure your rabbit has the flexibility to make use of their struggle or flight response by giving them a big residing space. 
  • Maintain automobile rides as brief as doable. Take frequent stops if it’s worthwhile to journey greater than a few hours.
  • Be sure to have a detailed relationship along with your rabbit. Befriending your rabbit means you’ll be capable of sit with them and luxury them after they get scared. You can even discover a pal to your rabbit to bond with. This might help considerably in decreasing the possibilities of extended shock. Companionship additionally helps to maintain a rabbit’s total stress ranges down. (Study extra about learn how to consolation a scared rabbit)


  1. “Outside and Indoor Hazards.” Home Rabbit Society. March 2013. https://rabbit.org/2013/03/faq-outdoor-and-indoor-hazards-to-companion-rabbits/
  2. Breed D, Meyer LCR, Steyl JCA, Goddard A, Burroughs R, Kohn TA. “Conserving wildlife in a altering world: Understanding seize myopathy-a malignant end result of stress throughout seize and translocation.” Conserv Physiol. 2019 Jul 5;7(1):coz027. doi: 10.1093/conphys/coz027. PMID: 31304016; PMCID: PMC6612673. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6612673/

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