Just like us, rabbits can experience those peculiar, sometimes amusing, sudden contractions of the diaphragm known as hiccups. Any animal with a diaphragm can get hiccups, and that includes rabbits. However, they are significantly less common in rabbits than they are in humans.
It will look exactly like you expect a hiccup to look like, but most of the time bunny hiccups don’t make a sound. Young rabbits are more prone to hiccups than older rabbits, but this might just be because young rabbits are more active, and their hiccups seem to be linked to periods of high-activity.
How do you know if your rabbit has the hiccups?
If you’ve spotted your rabbit with a regular twitching movement in their belly or sides, they might just have the hiccups. Unlike humans, when rabbits get hiccups, it doesn’t typically make a sound. On rare occasions, you may hear a slight squeak, but don’t expect a loud hiccup as you’d hear from a person.
You might also notice that during these hiccuping spells, your rabbit does not appear to notice or care. They’ll likely continue munching on their food or lounging about as if nothing’s happening. This is a good sign that the hiccups aren’t causing your bunny any distress and it’s okay to simply ignore them.
In my experience, it’s most common for hiccups to occur directly after exercise or when your rabbit has just laid down after zooming around the room. This could be a normal response to a quick bout of activity – similar to how we might get hiccups after a run.
If your rabbit is twitching and does appear to be in distress, it might not be hiccups at all. Learn more about the different causes of shaking and twitching in rabbits and learn how to tell the difference between symptoms.
How long do the hiccups last?
Most of the time, hiccups are just a quirky blip in your rabbit’s day. Typically, hiccups in rabbits last less than 1 minute. They come on suddenly, and just as suddenly, they’re gone. You might not even have time to pull out your phone and snap a cute video. Even if they last a little longer, I still don’t expect rabbit hiccups to last more than 5 minutes.
If your bunny’s hiccups don’t fade away and last more than half an hour, this is when you should consider it unusual. Extended bouts of hiccups could be a sign that there’s something more going on, and it’s worth giving your vet a shout just to be safe.
Should you be worried if your rabbit gets hiccups?
I have never known a rabbit to develop any kind of serious health condition as the result of mere hiccups, and it’s not a symptom of any illness that I’m aware of either. While they are not something you’ll see every day, hiccups in rabbits are not uncommon and they usually resolve on their own without any intervention from you.
When your rabbit has hiccups, it might look like a quick spasm or jerk that repeats for a short period. It’s caused by spasms in the diaphragm, much like in humans. Most of the time, there is no action for you to take. Just keep an eye on your bunny to ensure they’re comfortable. Hiccups are a temporary condition, and should go away on their own fairly quickly.
That being said, If they don’t go away for several hours, or your rabbit appears to be in distress or showing other signs of discomfort, contact your vet. While I, personally, have never known hiccups to be dangerous during my time working with rescue rabbits, I’m also not a veterinarian so if you’re ever worried it’s always better to play it safe.
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Recommended Products and Brands
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- Hay: Second Cutting Timothy Hay from Small Pet Select
- Pellets: Oxbow Garden Select Food for Rabbits
- Treats: Oxbow Simple Rewards
- Toys: Small Pet Select Natural Toys
- Enclosure/cage: A rabbit exercise pen
- Rabbit carrier: SleepyPod Mobile Pet Bed