Why Is My Bunny Shaking? The Rabbit Owners Guide

Watching your rabbit shake or tremble, can be a scary experience. You might have wondered “Why is my bunny shaking?” But, rabbits do shake from time to time, and it may not always be something to worry about. In this article, we have discussed pretty much everything you need to know about bunny rabbits shaking and when it is something you need to seek veterinary attention for.

Why Is My Bunny Shaking?

The fact is that your bunny rabbit could be shaking for various reasons. Rabbits shake as a way of expressing the way they feel, both emotionally and physically. Sometimes it can be a symptom of an illness, while at times, it could be an instinctive reaction to a situation.

Hiccups are one of the most prominent reasons why rabbits shake and are generally harmless. However, there are other common reasons. If your rabbit is extremely happy or afraid, it is likely to shake its body.

why is my bunny shaking

It might also shake to increase its body temperature to combat the cold weather. Typical medical conditions as to why rabbits shake are infestation by parasites like ticks and lice, food poisoning, digestive issues, ear infections, and heatstrokes.

It is vital for you to spend time with your pet bunny rabbit so that you can understand the different reasons why your bunny shakes its body from time to time.

Understanding the different situations and reasons your bunny does this can help you identify whether your bunny is ill or needs medical attention!

Why Is My Bunny Shaking and Lying Down?

While shaking is very common in rabbits and is not something that you need to worry about all the time, if your rabbit is shaking while lying down on its side, the reason could be acute digestive distress or gastrointestinal stasis.

Now, essentially, when suffering from this condition, your bunny cannot properly digest the food fast enough. GI stasis can be potentially life-taking unless you can take the proper steps to treat it.

Further, if the symptoms are detected early enough, your rabbit will most likely recover.

Apart from shaking while lying down, here are some common symptoms of GI stasis to keep an eye out for:

  • Constipation or diarrhea
  • Bloating
  • Little to no appetite
  • Extreme lethargy and a complete lack of energy

Rabbits only experience diarrhea when there is something wrong with their digestive system. Therefore, this is a symptom that you should address and investigate whenever you notice it.

Early intervention upon noticing these symptoms can go a long way in keeping your bunny rabbit healthy.

Having said that, rabbits also lie on their sides and cluck from time to time if they are very relaxed. You shouldn’t misconstrue this to think that your bunny is experiencing some physical discomfort. 

Is It Normal for Rabbits to Shake?

As we mentioned, some types of shaking are absolutely normal in rabbits. However, the reasons why your rabbit is shaking can vary.

Typically, suppose your bunny rabbit is shaking as a result of a serious medical condition. In that case, the body shaking will be accompanied by some sort of additional symptom such as lethargy, diarrhea, or drooling.

What Are the Different Types of Shaking?

Here are some of the different types of ways that your bunny rabbit can shake its body:

Rippling of the skin

Your bunny rabbit will create waves and ripples with its fur coat along with some jolting motion of its body.

Vibrating or trembling

Typically, rabbits will simply tremble without reason. This is a very normal manner of body shaking in rabbits and is not to be taken as a sign of illness.

Twitching of their skin

Rabbits also occasionally twitch their skin, making it look like their body is shaking in short spurts.


When your rabbit starts shaking violently and loses control of its muscles, it is a serious cause for concern. Convulsions are not a normal type of shaking in any condition and need immediate veterinary assistance.

How to Understand Whether Your Rabbit’s Shaking is a Cause for Concern or Not?

Here are some common situations in which your rabbit might shake its body. However, these are very normal expressions of what they are feeling and don’t need medical intervention.

When your bunny rabbit is sleeping

When rabbits are sleeping deeply, they may shake or tremble. A gentle clucking sound will be heard. This could be the cause of your rabbit lying on its side and shaking gently. Because some rabbits sleep with their eyes open, you may not notice them sleeping.

When your bunny rabbit is trying to express its pleasure

Rabbits who are delighted will often shudder and ripple their skin. This is something you’ll notice after your rabbit has been outside or you’ve given them a special treat.

When your bunny rabbit is trying to express its distaste

Angry bunnies quiver their heads or tremble as a sign of their displeasure. If the behavior does not stay too long, this is normal. When your rabbit is irritated, it will also thump its hind feet.

If your bunny rabbit is hiccupping

Rabbits, particularly babies, have hiccups from time to time. The rabbit may shake or quiver as a result of these, and they can linger for many minutes. Hiccups are common unless they occur frequently.

When your bunny rabbit is frightened

Rabbits also shiver if they are in shock or frightened by a sudden change in their immediate surroundings.

Why is Your Bunny Rabbit Shaking and Breathing Fast?

The most fundamental reason for a rabbit to breathe fast while shaking is some sort of primal fear. You see, rabbits are prey animals in their natural habitat and have an evolutionary instinct to be hyperaware of their surroundings and react to any signs of danger.

patting the bunny

You can commonly observe rabbits exhibit fast breathing and shaking tendencies whenever they are being handled by new people or are simply being handled poorly. This is because the rabbit’s instincts are telling it that there is a danger it needs to save itself from.

Therefore, the bunny rabbit is frightened. We have discussed in-depth a few of the most frequently observed situations that your rabbit will shake and breathe fast at the same time:

The presence of a new foreign animal

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If you introduce a new animal without following proper socialization methods to allow your rabbit to acquaint itself with that animal, your rabbit is bound to be afraid.

Why? Because your rabbit’s prey instinct kicks in and tells it that the new animal is a predator that it needs to protect itself from. This behavior is even more evident if the new animal in your house is a large one.

Typically, it would be best if you introduced new animals to your pet rabbits in a controlled environment and at a gradual pace.

This will allow your rabbit to actually acquaint itself with the new animal and perceive it as a friendly creature rather than a predator it needs to hide from.

The presence of a new person

The presence of a new person could also be a huge fright to your pet bunny. While some might scare just by the presence of an unknown human being, others will only get scared if the stranger tries to initiate contact with them and makes abrupt movements around them.

It could be quite frightening if the stranger tries to handle or carry your rabbit. As a result, remember to take it slowly. Allow them to sniff your new companion first. Then your friend might sit or lie down on the ground with your rabbit to interact with it.

They could also provide them with some fruits and veggies to eat. Your rabbit will feel safe and relaxed while interacting with a new person in this manner.

An underlying illness

Finally, if your rabbit isn’t afraid but is shivering or breathing rapidly, as well as other indicators of a sick bunny, you should take him to the veterinarian to rule out any medical issues.

It could be a seizure if your rabbit is shivering, breathing quickly, and rolling her eyes back, or if she loses control of her urine and bowels.

How to prevent breathing fast and shaking and breathing fast in rabbits?

If your rabbit is trembling and breathing faster than normal, you can resort to various methods to calm them down and get their temperament normal.

However, you should also consult your vet just to rule out any existing health issues. You should generally follow some interaction guidelines when dealing with your pet bunny rabbits. 

  • Always build a relationship with your pet rabbit before you actually initiate physical contact with it. 
  • Never hold a rabbit too high up in the air. Rather, choose to stay as close to the ground as possible to make your rabbit feel safe. 
  • If you wish to introduce a new person to them, be sure first to allow the rabbit to familiarize itself with that person before he handles it. 
  • Keep your pet bunny in a stress-free environment. 
  • To prevent heatstroke in your rabbit, maintain the temperature of your house at a crisp 16 degrees Celsius. 
  • Keep your rabbit at the prime of its health by conducting regular veterinary checkups. 

Why is Your Bunny Rabbit Shaking His Head Only?

Usually, if your bunny rabbit is laterally shaking only its head, it indicates an ear infection of some sort. This infection can generally be caused by bacteria or even infestation by parasites in the ear.

If you wish to cross-check whether your rabbit’s head shaking is caused by an ear infection, you should watch out for some common symptoms of ear infections in rabbits.


These can be the symptoms of bacterial flu, excessive itchiness and scratching around the ear region, sudden drop in appetite, and a brown fluid discharge in your rabbit’s ear.

You should take your bunny rabbit to your vet as soon as you spot any of these signs and symptoms along with head shaking to have its ears checked and accordingly treated for the infection or infestation by parasites.

Why Is My Rabbit Shaking After Eating Plants?

rabbits in field

Eating some plants might result in GI stasis or severe gastric discomfort in your bunny rabbit. Therefore, shaking could be a classic symptom of this issue.


Bunny shaking is not something to be worried about always. However, unless you can differentiate between the particular types of shaking bunny rabbits usually engage in and the situations in which they shake, you won’t be able to give it medical attention if it needs it.

This article will help you understand the varieties of shaking bunny rabbits often resort to and the situations that cause them.


How can I make my bunny feel safe?

Two classic ways to make your bunny rabbit feel safe are to create a relationship of trust before you physically handle your bunny rabbit. Further, it would be best if you always remembered to hold your rabbit as close to the ground as possible since heights often frighten these timid furballs.

How can you tell if my rabbits are sad and unhappy?

The position of your rabbits’ ears and the tension they carry in their muscles are two prime indicators of whether a rabbit is unhappy or sad.

Why is my dog’s head shaking?

Your dog’s head could be shaking as a result of either an ear infection or even a fever.

Is it normal for a rabbit to experience convulsions?

No, it is not normal for a rabbit to spasm. If you notice your bunny rabbit spasming, you should contact your vet instantly.

About the author

I'm Gulshan, a passionate pet enthusiast. Dive into my world where I share tips, stories, and snapshots of my animal adventures. Here, pets are more than just animals; they're heartbeats that enrich our lives. Join our journey!