I’ve listed the main signs of headtilt here to help confirm whether your rabbit has headtilt:*
• Can’t keep his/her balance – falling over on side, or wobbly on feet
• Leaning to one side – head tilted at an angle
• Curled/twisted body, with one eye predominantly facing upwards and the other on the ground
• Rolling/spinning over on side, or chasing their tail round in a circle Onset of headtilt symptoms can be gradual or surprisingly fast. Some rabbits continue to just display mild symptoms (leaning and losing balance), while others progress to severe headtilt (rolling/spinning). You might also find that your rabbit displays these general signs of discomfort or illness:
• Hiding in a dark corner, sitting very still, not interacting as usual
• Not eating normally or stopped eating completely
If your rabbit is showing some or all of these signs, this must be distressing for you to see, and I deeply sympathise! One of my rabbits, Lara, went through severe headtilt in May 2006. It was heartbreaking seeing her in this condition. It is a complicated, serious illness, which will most likely require a lot of time, patience and an element of luck to overcome. But Lara is living proof that it can be done!
It is important to act swiftly with any rabbit illness. In some senses they are very sensitive creatures. They can go down hill rapidly. So if your bunny is showing any signs of ill health please do call the vet and have them checked over. In regard to headtilt cases, it is essential to treat your bunny with the appropriate meds for the correct cause of the headtilt asap to reduce the risk of permanent damage.
See ‘I think my bunny has headtilt. What should I do?’ page if you suspect your bunny has headtilt.
* Please be aware that some injuries can cause similar symptoms. Diagnosis by your rabbit savvy vet is essential. This information is provided only as a basic guide.
Note: If your rabbit has not eaten or pooped for 24 hours, or is in a state of collapse (lying despondent on their side), then you need to get them to a vet immediately! Such symptoms are definitely classed as an emergency.
- Does my rabbit have head tilt?