Losing a rabbit

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What to do

It can be very overwhelming to deal with the loss of a pet rabbit, especially if it was unexpected and sudden in the middle of the night at home. There are several options for owners with regards to what to do with your rabbit's remains.

  • If you don't know what to do right now and will decide within a day or two, you can wrap their body in a towel and put them in a box in the fridge for storage. If you expect the decision to take an extended period of time, you can put them in the freezer.
  • If you would like to get a necropsy from your veterinarian, please call them and pass along the body ASAP. Keep the body in the fridge if you are unable to drop them off immediately.
  • If you would like to cremate your rabbit, you can keep them in the fridge or freezer until you decide to drop them off at a veterinarian or pet crematorium. Any nearby veterinarian hospital should be able to cremate your rabbit for you. It will usually take a few weeks to receive the ashes back if you opt for a private cremation.
  • If you would like to bury your rabbit, you can find a biodegradable cardboard box to use or directly bury them in the soil. If you would like to bring your rabbit with you when you move, consider burying them in a portable large pot. Make sure to dig deep to prevent cats and wildlife from uncovering your rabbit.

If your rabbit was part of a bonded group, please make sure to check out the section below for further tips.

For your rabbit

Olive had passed away and her husband Cale watches over her. Image (c) & used with direct permission from hallilad.

When your rabbit loses their bonded companion, they will grieve, too. Rabbits can create very strong bonds with their mate or companion.

What should I do when a rabbit in a bonded group has passed?

Many experts suggest that the surviving mate be allowed to see the body to help them understand what has happened. Each rabbit will handle the death differently. Make sure to watch your rabbit(s) closely after, as some may get depressed and stop eating.

If your surviving rabbit(s) have not lost interest in their deceased partner after leaving them together for more than 4 hours, it is best to remove the body for hygienic reasons. Rub a blanket, stuffed animal, or towel over the deceased partner to transfer their scent onto the object, and the surviving rabbit(s) may get some comfort when left with the remaining scent.

When one rabbit passes, in a bonded pair, it's very important for the survivor to spend time with the body to grieve.

In this time-lapsed video you can see Cleo react to her loss of Banacek. NOTE: Banacek's body is shown in the video.

When should I start looking for another friend for my remaining rabbit?

Rabbits very much live in the moment, and the timeline to find a new friend for them is mostly a choice of the caretaker. See the Bonding article "Should I get another rabbit?" for considerations on adding any additional rabbits to your household.

Extra resources

Infograph from Best4Bunny

Necropsy

What Is a Necropsy?

A necropsy is a surgery performed after death in an effort to determine the cause of death. This may be useful in helping owners whose rabbits died suddenly and unexpectedly to gain a sense of closure.

The following links include more information about the procedure on rabbits.

Further reading

Rabbits remember. Roxy's brother and sister, Rex & Sugi, visit her grave every day. Thanks to TammyD. for use permission. Source.
Some individuals, Online Groups, or Rescues will make a memorial video to remember a rabbit that has passed. Here is an example created by Jack Patiño for the facebook group The Royal Rabbit, used with direct permission. 2015 video.
Jack Patiño's 2016 memorial video for the facebook group The Royal Rabbit, used with direct permission.

See also