Everybody farts, right? But what about our furry animal friends? Even if they can fart, you might be worried that it means there is something wrong with their diet. I mean, humans only fart when they eat something weird, so it might be the same for rabbits.
Do rabbits fart? Rabbits do fart. In fact, rabbits fart a lot. It is an essential part of their digestive health. But while it might sound fun to have a little tooting bunny running around, you probably won’t hear your rabbit’s farts very often, if at all.
Passing gas is a normal part of your rabbit’s daily digestive health, but having a gas build-up could be painful or even fatal for rabbits. So let’s learn a little bit about the role farting plays in a rabbit’s digestion and what we can do to ensure our rabbits stay happy and healthy.
Why rabbits fart
Rabbits fart because of the gas that is produced during digestion. Food products make their way to the rabbit’s cecum where their gut bacteria break down the food and create gas as a by-product. This area of the rabbit’s digestive tract becomes a chamber where gas builds up as food is being digested.
Inevitably the gas will make its way through the rest of the digestive tract and, eventually, out the rabbit’s backside. Most of this will happen without us humans ever being the wiser.
Will you hear or smell a rabbit fart?
For the most part, rabbit farts are both silent and scentless to human ears and noses, so you probably won’t get to hear your rabbit making funny farting sounds. But there is some anecdotal evidence that rabbits sometimes do pass gas with an added sound or a smell.
Rabbit owners will sometimes share stories about being in the room with their rabbit and hearing a weird noise. They describe a rabbit fart as sounding like a little squeak of air leaving a balloon. That sounds reasonable to me, it’s more-or-less what you’d expect a cute little rabbit fart to sound like.
Personally, I have not heard a rabbit fart, but I smelled it once. One of my families’ rabbits growing up was looking a little uncomfortable in his sitting posture. Then he suddenly sighed and relaxed into a comfortable loaf. A moment later there was a little bit of a smell in the air. I can only imagine that the little bun let out a little bit of trapped gas.
Gas build up in rabbits
While silent farts are a normal and healthy behavior for rabbits, not farting enough can lead to some serious health problems. Gas can build up in the rabbit’s gut and become extremely uncomfortable or painful. In severe cases, it can even be fatal. It can lead to more serious problems such as stomach bloat or GI stasis.
Gas can build up in a rabbits gut because the gas is not passing through the digestive tract fast enough. Stress or not getting enough exercise could be the culprit in this case.
Gas can also build up because the rabbit is producing more gas that they should be. In this case, it’s usually the rabbit’s diet that’s at fault. They may have had too many sweets, or eaten something they shouldn’t have.
What foods cause rabbits to have more gas?
Like with humans and many other animals, a rabbit’s diet plays a huge role in the amount of gas that is produced in their intestines and the amount that they fart.
Many pet owners believe that eating foods that would make a human gassy, such as broccoli, would make their pet rabbit gassy also. But this is not necessarily true. There is no evidence that giving a rabbit some broccoli or kale will cause them to have more gas.
Foods that can and do lead to a gas build up include grains as well as legumes. Any kind of bread product, beans, or peas should not be a part of your rabbits diet for this reason.
You should also limit the amount of sugary fruits and vegetables your give your rabbit. Anything high in sugars and starch are notorious for causing gastrointestinal problems when given to rabbits in excess. That’s why you should try to avoid giving your rabbit too many sweet treats, even though they’ll be constantly begging you for more.
How to tell if a rabbit has a gas buildup
A gas build up can be very painful for a rabbit, so you’ll want to do what you can to help out your furry friend when they’re experiencing it. Unfortunately rabbits are prey animals, and they have evolved to hide they’re weaknesses so predators won’t pick them out and come after them. This means that it is difficult for us to tell when pet rabbits are in pain.
But there are some signs that you can look out for. Your rabbit may be experiencing a painful gas build-up when:
- You hear gas bubbling if you put your ear to their belly.
- They are sitting in a hunched position. They’ll look like they want to sit in a more comfortable position, but don’t want to push their belly against the ground.
- Your rabbit is reluctant to move. This is especially something to look out for if it’s a time of day when they are usually active.
- They are refusing food and treats. This could also be a sign of something much more serious, and if this behavior continues for more than a few hours, you should get help for your rabbit.
- You rabbit is not pooping. This is also a very serious sign, and if it continues for more than a few hours, you should bring your rabbit to a rabbit-savvy vet.
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How to help a gassy rabbit
If you think your rabbit might have a gas build-up, there are some things you can do at home to help them out. If your rabbit’s condition does not improve, then if may be a more serious problem. You should bring your rabbit to the vet as soon as possible.
Movement can help gas pass through the digestive tract faster than when a rabbit is sitting still. If your rabbit isn’t in too much pain, they may still be willing to move around a little bit.
Encourage this movement as much as possible until your rabbit either returns to their normal behavior (they probably passed the gas at this point), or their condition becomes worse and they refuse to move at all.
You can also give your rabbit a stomach massage to help encourage the gas to move through the digestive tract a little faster. Gently put your hands underneath your rabbit’s belly and gently put pressure on their belly by moving it up-and-down and back-and-forth. But don’t be forceful and push your fingers up into the rabbits belly. Just gently massage the tummy to try to get the trapped gas moving along.
You can also give your rabbit some medicine called pediatric simethicone. It’s the same thing as baby gas drops that are used to help human babies pass painful gas. For this you want to syringe feed your rabbit about 1ml per hour for three hours. If the Simethicone has not helped after three hours, then it probably won’t do the trick.
Stomach bloat can happen when the bacteria in your rabbit’s intestines produce too much gas and it gets trapped in the stomach. You will be able to see your rabbit’s stomach start to swell like a balloon to either side of their body as the gas builds up.
This is an incredibly dangerous condition, and if it’s not dealt with right away it can quickly become fatal. The best way to prevent this condition is to make sure you are giving your rabbit a healthy diet consisting mainly of grass based hay (such as timothy hay)
Gastrointestinal (GI) stasis is a common gut condition that can be partially caused by a build up of gas. GI Stasis happens when a rabbit’s digestive system slows down significantly or stops moving.
This is a fairly common ailment for rabbits since it can be brought on by many other problems including a:
- Bad diet
- Lack of exercise
- Pain from other health issues
While GI stasis is common and can be treated, it can be deadly if not dealt with quickly enough. If your rabbit has not been eating or pooping for more than 8-10 hours, then you should contact your rabbit-savvy veterinarian for help.
- Brown, Susan A. DVM. “Suggested Vegetables and Fruits for a Rabbit Diet.” House Rabbit Society, rabbit.org/suggested-vegetables-and-fruits-for-a-rabbit-diet.
- Harriman, Marinell; Harvey, Carolynn, DVM. “Digestibility in the Rabbit Diet.” House Rabbit Society, rabbit.org/journal/3-3/digestibility.html.
- Howcast. “How to Help a Rabbit with Gas Pain | Pet Rabbits.” Youtube, Commentary by Mary Cotter and Amy Sedaris, Dec. 3, 2013, youtu.be/LbyC6CWbm5M.
Can rabbits have diarrhea?
Rabbits can have diarrhea, but it means that they are very sick. Healthy rabbit poop should be round and solid pellets, and they should be consistent in size. They also pass small grouped-together cecotropes that your rabbit will redigest.
Can rabbits vomit?
Rabbits are not capable of vomiting. Their digestive tract is built to only go one way, and that is part of the reason that their digestion is so sensitive. Make sure your rabbit is only eating foods that are safe and healthy so that they won’t have any trouble passing them out the other end.
Do rabbits burp?
It hasn’t been specifically studied, but it is believed that rabbits are not capable of burping. A condition like rabbit bloat would probably not be such a big issue if rabbit were able to burp, so evidence suggests that rabbits cannot burp.