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Home > Rabbits > Why Does My Rabbit Shake? 12 Reasons & What to Do

Why Does My Rabbit Shake? 12 Reasons & What to Do

Angry giant rabbit

If a rabbit shakes, it can either be normal behavior or a sign of something wrong. It’s essential to observe your pet to discern how they’re moving and what other behaviors you are seeing. It can also provide vital clues to identifying a potential problem. Remember that rabbits are active animals that always seem to be twitching or rippling their coats.

A stressed or sick bunny will look anxious. They may be aggressive or avoid contact with you or not be eating well and sleeping more than usual. Let’s review some reasons your pet may be shaking, covering benign and serious causes.


The 12 Reasons Rabbits Shake

1. Happy and At Ease

Sometimes, a bunny will shake because they’re so happy and content. All’s right with the world. They’re well-fed and taken care of properly. Perhaps you get this feeling of euphoria, too, at times. Your rabbit may act silly and run around the room, jumping into the air. Enjoy these moments and pat yourself on the back for being a good and responsible pet owner.

Cute gray rabbit afraid of new place outside and try to be aware with owner at chest
Image Credit: Wanwajee Weeraphukdee, Shutterstock

2. Angry

On the other end of the spectrum, anger can cause a rabbit to shake. You probably can surmise that your bunny isn’t happy by their body language. They may look tense and uncomfortable or even get on their hind legs and slap their front paws at you. Lagomorphs are usually quiet animals. When one starts thumping their feet, growling, or grunting, you have one unhappy camper on your hands.

3. Hiccups

Sometimes, a rabbit shakes simply because they’re hiccuping. This action is an involuntary contraction of the animal’s diaphragm. An occasional occurrence is no cause for concern. It could just be a temporary response to an irritation. Your bunny may have eaten too quickly. You may notice it with a new pet that tries to gobble their food right away. If it persists, it’s time to visit the vet.

4. Dreaming

Rabbits, like people, can dream when they sleep. And just as they can startle you, they can have a similar effect on your pet. Most of the time, bunnies are light sleepers. About 30% of their sleep is deep. That’s when they may start dreaming. Of course, we don’t know what their brains conjure during these times. However, you may see your pet shaking and quaking as they sleep.

big adult rabbit sleeping on a hot summer day
Image Credit: Renko Aleks, Shutterstock

5. Fear

Even domesticated rabbits have many of the same instincts as their wild counterparts. That comes from being a prey species. Fear is a potent emotion in bunnies. It can cause an animal to shake. Again, body language is a vital clue. If you notice your pet flattening their ears or their nose twitching, they may be scared of something.

6. Stress

Stress is an uncomfortable feeling that may cause your rabbit to shake. A new pet will likely experience it. However, changes to the routine or another animal in the house can also increase stress. It can even happen if your bunny doesn’t want to be handled. The best thing to do is let your rabbit be. Make sure they have everything they need, including a place to hide.

7. Ear Mites or Infections

Ear mites or infections can make your bunny miserable. A telltale sign that something is up is your pet shaking their head often. You can use a cat or dog product to treat this condition. However, we suggest contacting your vet because of the risk of secondary bacterial infections or overdose.

Castor Rex Rabbit Sitting Outside
Image Credit: Alisha Falcone, Shutterstock

8. Too Cold

Your bunny may shake if they feel cold, the same as you would. We shiver to try to raise our body temperature from the heat given off by that action. You should have a bed or hiding place in your pet’s cage so they can snuggle up and get warm. Make sure the cage isn’t near any drafts or registers. Average household temperatures are suitable for lagomorphs.

9. Internal Parasites

Clean housing is imperative for rabbits to prevent illnesses, such as internal parasites. Several health conditions can plague animals kept in less-than-sanitary living quarters. Of course, litter-box training makes your job easier. Nevertheless, parasites, such as Encephalitozoon cuniculi, can cause several other symptoms, such as incontinence, head tilt, and seizures.

10. Poisoning

A sudden episode of shaking in an otherwise healthy rabbit can be a sign of poisoning. Bunnies are curious animals, making bunny-proofing your home essential. Unfortunately, some toxins may not trigger symptoms right away. We strongly urge you to contact your vet immediately if your pet has seizures or other telltale red flags of poisoning since rabbits can’t vomit.

veterinarian doctor with small rabbit on hands on table in office
Image Credit: ElenaYakimova, Shutterstock

11. Heatstroke

Hot temperatures are equally harmful to rabbits, potentially causing heatstroke. Shaking is one sign. Other indicators include labored breathing, drooling, confusion, and panting. Lagomorphs manage their body temperature through the dilation of the blood vessels in their ears. If you notice they’re red, your pet is too hot and needs to cool off.

12. GI Stasis

Like cats, rabbits spend a lot of time self-grooming, which can result in hairballs or even blockages. That’s particularly true if the animal isn’t eating enough hay. Signs of gastrointestinal stasis include loss of appetite for food and water. Treatment is difficult since it’s usually advanced by the time you notice the signs.



Rabbits are expressive animals; that is, if you know how to read their body language. Shaking is often harmless. However, that’s where getting to know your pet makes a big difference. It could mean a happy bunny, or it can be other negative emotions or a sign of disease. The essential thing is to monitor your rabbit’s habits so that you know what’s normal and what’s not.

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Featured Image Credit: tannz, Shutterstock

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