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Photos of rabbits in heat distress

Diagnosing and treating rabbit ailments. *Caution! These threads may contain graphic content.*
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Re: Photos of rabbits in heat distress

Post Number:#31  Unread postby WildWolf » Tue May 28, 2013 1:42 pm


Thank you!!! I never realized what to look for when checking for heat distress.
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Re: Photos of rabbits in heat distress

Post Number:#32  Unread postby Frecs » Thu May 30, 2013 8:39 pm


Thanks for the pictures! Very helpful indeed.

My strategy has been three-fold:

1. open housing
2. housed under pecan trees
3. frozen 2-liter bottles

The open housing allows for maximum air flow. I have PVC corrugated panels as rain protection over some and tarps over the others but the tarps are fixed such that they do not block air flow. By putting them under the pecan trees, they have shade and a 10degree reduction in temps; and, a nice breeze moving through the trees. The frozen bottles also lowers temps. I am going to try to tiles this year as well -- freezing them first. I tried tiles last year and the rabbits avoided them but I didn't freeze them first. I'm curious if freezing first will encourage the rabbits to lay on them.
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Re: Photos of rabbits in heat distress

Post Number:#33  Unread postby LauraNJ » Thu May 30, 2013 8:43 pm


I use marble tiles. I first tried some porcelein tiles that were left over from the kitchen floor and the rabbits avoided them. I tried marble tiles and they love them. I kept them in all year round, the rabbits seem to like them and even if they aren't frozen, they seem to stay cooler than the air temperature.

Today I ran cold water over each tile to cool it down, buns seem to like it.

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Re: Photos of rabbits in heat distress

Post Number:#34  Unread postby slo18 » Fri Jul 05, 2013 1:28 pm


luvmybunnys wrote:It has been pretty hot here today in the low 80's. It is extremly humid. I have 21 rabbits and 1 of them was in heat destress when i got home from work today. I left frozen water bottles in all the cages before i left this morning. Im very glad that the other rabbits wernt in destress but why was it just the one rabbit? Is there something wrong with her? She has 7 kits that are 3 wks old now. I also have another doe that has 10 kits and she acted fine and she gets a little more sun than all the other rabbits. I hope there is nothing wrong with her she is a very good mama.

I dont know for sure, not being a big bunny expert, but could be she spends more time surrounded by the kits, and they give out heat on top of the summer heat? i know how uncomfortable i get being cuddled with hubby in the summer cant imagine its any better with 7 little ones swarming you when your streatched out trying to cool down. also its been a long time since i was around kits, but maybe if she is spending time in the box feeding them and the heat builds up in there it could effect her more then a non nursing bunny ( if they still nurse at three weeks, i dont remember)

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Re: Photos of rabbits in heat distress

Post Number:#35  Unread postby LearningAs-I-Go » Mon Sep 16, 2013 7:50 pm


My 'rabbitry' is built in a wonderful little alcove next to the shed I keep the hay in. I am lucky enough to have a huge Juniper tree beside it and the hutches are tucked in that space. I also have a misting system set up that sprays in and around the cages so the rabbits have the option of sitting in the back of the cage out of the mist or sitting directly under it. (they always opt for this, and are soaked by dinnertime when I turn it off) So far I have a very small rabbitry as I am just starting out, but as I expand I will expand my misting system. The rabbits love it and it has kept them cool all summer. I live in California and we have temperatures in excess of 106 degrees. No signs of heat distress. Of course I am lucky as well to live in the foothills of the local mountains so we have a breeze 90% of the time.

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Re: Photos of rabbits in heat distress

Post Number:#36  Unread postby bunnychild » Mon Sep 16, 2013 8:05 pm


I love you informative posts. The pictures are so helpful, and it is obvious that you know what your doing.
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Re: Photos of rabbits in heat distress

Post Number:#37  Unread postby akane » Mon Sep 16, 2013 8:12 pm


We cull for temp extremes since Iowa sees both the record highs found in southern states and the record lows seen in Canada and I can't babysit all my livestock. I do nothing but keep water filled in summer and block the wind and snow in winter. It would suck if one of my main breeders died but the rest would be that much stronger. We lose parts or all of litters sometimes but the ones that survive and we keep for breeding go on to produce litters and build nests that can withstand subzero temps or 100F with high humidity.

I've never seen one of my rabbits with it's head tilted back like that. Even that summer it was over 100F and high humidity for 2months. We did lose a ton of juniors to cocci and heat hitting them at the same time. Ended up butchering everything irregardless of size down to the breeders until things could dry out and cool down.
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Re: Photos of rabbits in heat distress

Post Number:#38  Unread postby DogCatMom » Mon Sep 16, 2013 9:06 pm


Attended my first rabbit show on Saturday. Temperatures were wonderful, for people and rabbits: breezy and cool (50s) in Napa at 9:00 before the overcast (fog) burned off, warming to perhaps the low 70s (F) by 1:00 or 1:30. This was an outdoor show.

However--and maybe this is normal? but I hope not--it was appalling to me that so many of the rabbits, between their appearances (there were two shows in one day), were kept

--in their cages/carriers
--in the direct sun, after it came out,
--WITH NO WATER :angry:

Some owners had ex-pens with tarps for their rabbits to stretch their legs and get a break; some had pop-ups for the people and finagled the rabbit cages into some shade in the morning but didn't check back as the sun moved. But even the people who took care to have their rabbits at least in partial shade didn't provide any water--not in the cages (the clamped-on bowls were empty), not in the ex-pens (I looked), and not with bottles (I had been hoping to see how rabbits manage with bottles, but couldn't find a single one). Neither were these rabbits nibbling on wet greens to get water content. I had expected that rabbits wouldn't be *fed* at a show--things are messy enough!--but not to have water available anywhere was...ah...surprising.

In particular, there were three Rex rabbits (I *think* Rex; not educated enough yet to tell NZ vs. California vs. Rex without a cue card) whose cages were in the direct sun at approx. 11:45 and, from the cages' location, had been in the sun all morning, whenever the rabbits weren't on the judge's table. These three rabbits were panting hard, and their heads were elevated as in the photos at the beginning of this thread.

I stood there for several minutes, staring at them--first to keep testing myself on the breeds, then in concern about the panting and head position--but couldn't find an owner (!) to talk to. Being an absolute novice, I would've probably phrased it as, "These rabbits look like they're getting hot. Is there any shade or water for them?"

At a dog show, dogs who are left in a car, even with the windows cracked, WILL be rescued by the show committee if the situation of the marooned dog(s) is brought to the attention of a member of the show committee. The car will be broken into via a window smash; this notice is printed in the show booklet everyone is handed as they walk through the gate to the show. What is the practice at a rabbit show if one sees rabbits who appear to be in distress but cannot locate an owner?

NO WATER OR SHADE! PANTING RABBITS!

It was stunning.

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Re: Photos of rabbits in heat distress

Post Number:#39  Unread postby akane » Mon Sep 16, 2013 9:49 pm


Of course rabbits are kept in their carriers. People should have open wire carriers that get plenty of airflow. Many people have several carriers of rabbits with labels or different genders and couldn't set up pens for them. Most shows are also so jam packed you can barely fit a carrier much less a pen unless you want to go out in the middle of nowhere and miss your breeds call. Usually I see carriers stacked upon carriers sometimes up to 4' high.

Now not watching for the sun is wrong. When we left ours unattended near the door at a fair we threw a light weight spring jacket over half the carrier in case.

Many only give water periodically and then remove the dishes. Most rabbits don't seem to drink or eat when traveling and at shows unless it's a long time and they have a chance to relax in one spot for awhile. Some like to eat or play with their dishes getting their coat wet after they have a drink and some just don't have room to move around without spilling a dish. We've offered water but only had one drink and she'd sat in the back of my truck with topper in cool weather for 2 days not drinking anything before the show day because we have to pick them up from the horse stable ahead of time to make it to shows on time. I've watched others setup next to us fill up 10-20 dishes and have 2-3 drink the whole day.
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Re: Photos of rabbits in heat distress

Post Number:#40  Unread postby LearningAs-I-Go » Mon Sep 16, 2013 10:13 pm


DogCatMom wrote:, and not with bottles (I had been hoping to see how rabbits manage with bottles, but couldn't find a single one).

I don't show but thought I'd respond to this part of your post. I use bottles exclusively to supply water to all my rabbits and they do just fine with it. Sometimes, if they've pushed their feed bowls around and they've ended up under the misters, they get filled with water but my rabbits still go to the water bottles to drink.

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Re: Photos of rabbits in heat distress

Post Number:#41  Unread postby DogCatMom » Mon Sep 16, 2013 10:31 pm


akane wrote:Of course rabbits are kept in their carriers. People should have open wire carriers that get plenty of airflow. Many people have several carriers of rabbits with labels or different genders and couldn't set up pens for them. Most shows are also so jam packed you can barely fit a carrier much less a pen unless you want to go out in the middle of nowhere and miss your breeds call. Usually I see carriers stacked upon carriers sometimes up to 4' high.

Now not watching for the sun is wrong. When we left ours unattended near the door at a fair we threw a light weight spring jacket over half the carrier in case.

Many only give water periodically and then remove the dishes. Most rabbits don't seem to drink or eat when traveling and at shows unless it's a long time and they have a chance to relax in one spot for awhile. Some like to eat or play with their dishes getting their coat wet after they have a drink and some just don't have room to move around without spilling a dish. We've offered water but only had one drink and she'd sat in the back of my truck with topper in cool weather for 2 days not drinking anything before the show day because we have to pick them up from the horse stable ahead of time to make it to shows on time. I've watched others setup next to us fill up 10-20 dishes and have 2-3 drink the whole day.


Thank you for your reply. :) (I've added the bolding and have responded in order.)

Agreed: rabbits need to be safely confined, but these particular three large-ish rabbits almost couldn't even turn around in their cages and were face-into the sun. They could've used an ex-pen to walk around, for sure. Water bottles would've been helpful for them, as would shade or an attentive owner. (still ticked off...)

There was lots of room at this outdoor show, held in a small city park, and there was a PA system with announcers who knew how to announce. :) ("Youth AmChins to Manuel's table in 5 minutes; Youth AmChins to Manuel's table.") I'm not sure how many breeds are usually represented at this level of show; I had hoped to see a Flemish Giant "in person," for example. What the low number of breeds meant was that there was actually unused shade! Which made those three rabbits even more obvious in their distress.

re. your note about no way to move without spilling a dish: I saw many rabbits (Angoras as well as some short-haired breeds) with clamped-on looking water/food containers in the shape of a half-circle. All of these half-circle dishes were bone-dry. Do they come off? Is that why they weren't being used?

The Angora owners, however, were extremely conscientious about shade! The only time the Angoras were in the sun was while they were being transported in their (yes, stacked) cages on a rolling trolley from one shaded place to the next. :)

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Re: Photos of rabbits in heat distress

Post Number:#42  Unread postby akane » Tue Sep 17, 2013 3:53 pm


i have never been to a show with space, an announcement system, or shade besides the building. Usually everyone is crammed shoulder to shoulder in the building with no choice where to move their rabbits as the sun moves and definitely no space for an xpen so most people probably don't own one. I don't. There's often 100s of people with 1000s of rabbits in a space about the size of my horse stable (36x60') with people spilling out the doors having friends telling them when their breed is up. Then there's 3 or 4 judging tables with as many judges running at once. It's utter chaos with barely the ability to hear your breed and where to go. Sometimes they have a dry erase board listing the order of the breeds but that only holds 6 or so and you have no idea how long each breed will take.

It was a complete shock after showing horses where they have a full class listing plus an announcer on speaker telling what class is up and what class is next every class. I even went to one rabbit show where they didn't know what they were judging next. They just randomly picked a breed as they got done with one. Which meant we couldn't go anywhere and had to sit on the concrete for 6 hrs waiting for our breed. My butt and legs were sore for days.

This is why I don't go to many shows. I like showing but I don't really want to wake up early to register, drive several hours, force my way in to a spot in the building, sit around for half a day, and then the several hour drive home since only 1 show is within 45mins of me.

I asked my husband and he said he's never seen a rabbit drink at a show even when they had water.
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Re: Photos of rabbits in heat distress

Post Number:#43  Unread postby skysthelimit » Tue Sep 17, 2013 10:35 pm


I've never seen my rabbits drink or eat at a show either.
I feed and water them before the show, and after the show.
Sometimes I put a trickle of water in. I wander past periodically, and see if they've drunk the trickle.

I've never been to an outdoor show in Ohio, don't think they have them this far north unless it's a fair, which I still think are in the barns. If it was that hot here, I would not take the Rex, SF or Angoras to a show.
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Re: Photos of rabbits in heat distress

Post Number:#44  Unread postby Kyle@theHeathertoft » Tue Sep 17, 2013 10:56 pm


--in their cages/carriers
--in the direct sun, after it came out,
--WITH NO WATER :angry:


In cages/carriers is safest. Mine stay in them unless I'm grooming or they're about to go on a table. I had a buck panic and nearly break his back at the first show I had rabbits entered in...no way am I repeating THAT nasty experience. :( The carriers are "cramped" for a reason: if the rabbit panics, they can't bash themselves into a wall at speed and break their darn fool necks.

As for sun...all the shows I've been at have been indoors, no sunlight. I keep a few towels in the car so I can keep the sun off of them when driving, but that could overheat them at a show. I'm not sure how I'd handle that.

Some of my rabbits drink at shows...most of mine do not.

Also consider this: they may have been given water after the show, so that DURING the show they don't pee all over the judge. ;) I had a random bunny pee on me at the last show...I was helping a friend and picked up her little buck to put him back in his carrier, and he pee'd down my shirt. :roll:

PERSONALLY, I'd rather a judge get peed on and my buns stay hydrated, but...most of 'em won't drink til I get home.

Some owners had ex-pens with tarps for their rabbits to stretch their legs and get a break;


No! NO! Unsafe!!!! Someone stomps by and the rabbit spook, and go careening into the sides of the pen, they could kill themselves. Last show I was at, a bunch of kids came in from the skate park, and one jerk of a kit rolled on his skateboard, scared the crap out of my rabbits. If they had room to get up a bit of a run they could get HURT!!! No ex-pens EVER at a show for my rabbits...safety FIRST, always!

Those folk who had pens up, I am a little shocked. :o

NO WATER OR SHADE! PANTING RABBITS!


I'm very confused, I haven't seen anything like that (except the no water thing) at shows. :( Maybe it was just an off day?

Of course rabbits are kept in their carriers. People should have open wire carriers that get plenty of airflow. Many people have several carriers of rabbits with labels or different genders and couldn't set up pens for them. Most shows are also so jam packed you can barely fit a carrier much less a pen unless you want to go out in the middle of nowhere and miss your breeds call. Usually I see carriers stacked upon carriers sometimes up to 4' high.


I stack my carriers...all two of them. :lol: It saves space.

Agreed: rabbits need to be safely confined, but these particular three large-ish rabbits almost couldn't even turn around in their cages and were face-into the sun. They could've used an ex-pen to walk around, for sure. Water bottles would've been helpful for them, as would shade or an attentive owner. (still ticked off...)


No ex-pens at shows unless you are okay with potentially killing a rabbit. ;) I'm super-paranoid about space and carrier sizes.

And btw, my Champagnes have almost no room when at a show. They're kind of squished into carriers; Boss could never comfortably turn around without squishing his face into the wire first. He could stretch out on the grooming table, though he never did; he kind of hated shows and would stay crunched into a ball no matter what. He wouldn't have walked a step if his life depended on it...except when he panicked and nearly broke himself in two. :(

re. your note about no way to move without spilling a dish: I saw many rabbits (Angoras as well as some short-haired breeds) with clamped-on looking water/food containers in the shape of a half-circle. All of these half-circle dishes were bone-dry. Do they come off? Is that why they weren't being used?


When they call your breed, a lot of people have multiple rabbits of that breed entered, so they lug the whole carrier over. And the water SLOSHES ALL OVER THE PLACE, dousing the rabbits............right before going on the table. ;) Hence why most of the water bowls I see are filled AFTER they've been judged, not before...plus a clever rabbit can often get the bowls off and make a mess anyways.

I don't know what could have been done for those panting rabbits...maybe alert someone at the show entry table there's some rabbits in distress? :(
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Re: Photos of rabbits in heat distress

Post Number:#45  Unread postby Ramjet » Wed Sep 18, 2013 1:12 am


Wish I had read this thread a month ago .... Might not have lost my Altex/!???? buck .....


You might just leave this stickied .... till the end of time. Summer comes every year and so do noobs like me!


mystang89 wrote:Also, a question. I think I remember reading or hearing somewhere that if a rabbit starts to have heat distress that it is more susceptible to it and heat stroke in the future. I don't know if that is true but I do know with humans that if a person suffers from heat exhaustion or heat stroke that they ARE more susceptible to future bouts with it.



Saw this and thought I'd respond as I have a good friend who is a trauma surgeon here in Houston.

He & I were discussing concussions recently (In Humans, specifically athletes such as MMA fighters & football players) and what he said was pretty simple , a concussion is trauma to the brain and a heat stroke is very similar (caused by swelling rather than impact).

Once you have a concussion , you are 9x more likely to have subsequent concussions. I'd assume heat stroke is similar in reoccurrence .... I'm going to pick his brain tomorrow and follow up on this topic.
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