Why Does My Rabbit Have Cold Ears?

Has your rabbit been acting strange and aloof lately? Do your bunny’s ears feel icy cold to the touch? These troubling signs could indicate a major health problem in your beloved pet. Join us as we dive deep into the mysterious case of the cold-eared rabbit! We’ll explore why rabbits have cold ears in the first place and simple ways you can check for normal temperature ranges. But don’t be lulled into complacency – we’ll also cover the red flag symptoms that warrant an urgent trip to the vet. Could your rabbit have a blocked intestine or life-threatening infection? Don’t let clues go overlooked. Together we’ll get to the root of frigid ears and equip you to take action. Your rabbit’s health hangs in the balance – let’s hop to it!

Why Are My Rabbit’s Ears So Cold?

It's not unusual for a rabbit's ears to feel cold to the touch. A rabbit's ears play an important role in regulating their body temperature, so feeling cold ears is often perfectly normal. Rabbits do not have sweat glands like humans do. Instead, rabbits rely on their oversized ears to release excess body heat. The arteries in a rabbit's ears act as radiators, circulating blood to the ears where heat can dissipate into the air. This allows the rabbit to cool itself. When you feel your rabbit's cold ears, it simply means this temperature regulation system is working properly.

A rabbit's ears are filled with blood vessels and bare only a light coat of fur. This anatomy allows for maximum exposure for heat transfer between the air and their blood. Cold ears indicate good blood circulation which carries warmth away from the body core and into the ears. The large surface area of the ears provides sufficient area for the blood to cool as it circulates.

Rabbits living in warm environments are especially prone to having cold ears since their bodies generate excess heat that needs to be expelled. Pet rabbits who live indoors are a good example, since ambient room temperature is often warmer than their natural underground burrows.

In summary, finding cold ears on your rabbit is no cause for alarm. It is simply a sign that your rabbit is using its ears effectively to regulate a healthy body temperature. Cold ears indicate your pet is not overheated.

Temperature Regulation in Rabbits

A rabbit's normal body temperature ranges from 101°F to 103°F. To maintain this optimal temperature, rabbits rely on their large, vascularized ears to release excess heat. This is because rabbits lack sweat glands on most of their body, with the only exception being their paws.

Without the ability to sweate, rabbits need some other way to expel heat. This is where their ears come into play. Rabbits have a rich supply of blood vessels in their ears which facilitates heat exchange. As blood flows into the ears, the blood vessels extract heat from the body core and carry it into the ears. The large surface area of the ears, thinly furred, allows for the hot blood to cool down by transferring its heat to the surrounding air.

If a rabbit becomes overheated, its ears will become engorged with blood, appearing flushed red. The increased blood flow to the ears allows more heat to be carried out of the body core and expelled into the environment.

Likewise, rabbits conserve heat in cold conditions by constricting blood flow to the ears. This minimizes heat loss, seen visibly as the ears tighten closer to the body.

Paying attention to your rabbit's ear temperature and appearance can give you good insight into their thermal comfort. Always provide an ambient temperature within their comfort zone and ample space for running and playing. Monitoring ear changes daily can help you keep your pet rabbit healthy and happy.

Are Rabbit Ears Supposed To Be Cold?

Yes, it is perfectly normal for a rabbit's ears to feel cold to the touch. In fact, cold ears are a good sign that your rabbit is able to effectively regulate its body temperature.

A rabbit's large, thin ears are packed with blood vessels and arteries just below the surface. This anatomy allows blood to transfer heat efficiently to the air. As blood circulates from the warm body core into the cooler ears, heat is released. This causes the ears to feel cold.

Cold ears indicate healthy blood flow and temperature regulation. It means your rabbit's circulatory system is working properly to keep its core body temperature within an optimal range.

Rabbits do not sweat like humans. Without sweat glands, rabbits rely on blood vessels in their ears to remove excess heat from their bodies. When ambient temperatures are warm, circulatory changes allow more blood flow to the ears so heat can dissipate.

In winter, rabbit ears will feel cooler than in summer but are not ice cold. Vasoconstriction reduces blood flow to prevent losing too much body heat.

So in summary, yes, a rabbit's ears are supposed to feel cold to the touch as a function of their anatomy and temperature regulation process. It is only cause for concern if the ears feel extremely cold or icy. Otherwise, enjoy those cute, chilly ears!

When Are Cold Rabbit Ears A Cause For Concern?

While cold ears are normal for rabbits, extremely cold or icy ears can be a cause for concern. Here are some scenarios where chilled ears warrant a veterinary visit:

  • If the ears feel significantly colder than usual or cold even in warm conditions, this could indicate a restricted blood flow or circulatory issue. Lack of blood flow will prevent heat from reaching the ears.

  • Ears that are icy, stiff, or rigid may be a sign of hypothermia as the rabbit struggles to conserve heat. Hypothermia occurs when a rabbit's body temperature drops below 99°F. Immediate veterinary assistance is needed.

  • Baby bunnies (kits) are prone to hypothermia because they cannot effectively self-regulate temperature. Chilled ears on a kit indicates emergency heating is needed.

  • In paralyzed or disabled rabbits who cannot move properly, blood circulation can be impaired, leading to abnormally cold ears.

  • Cold ears accompanied by other symptoms like lethargy, weakness, or shivering may indicate shock, pain, or a serious health problem requiring medical evaluation.

  • If the ears are the only part of your rabbit's body feeling cold, with normal body temperature, nerve damage in the ears may be a cause.

While minor temperature fluctuations are expected, any significant or persistent coldness in a rabbit's ears should not be ignored. Let your veterinarian determine if your bunny's chilly ears require treatment. With proper care, your companion can hop happily again.

Rabbit’s Ears Are Cold After Being Spayed

It's common for a rabbit's ears to feel cooler than normal after being spayed or neutered. This temporary change is due to the anesthesia and effects of surgery. However, the ears should not feel icy cold.

When a rabbit is under anesthesia, their blood flow and circulation can be slowed. This reduces blood reaching the ears, making them cooler. Your rabbit may also be less active after surgery, generating less body heat.

Surgical pain or inflammation triggers a stress response, diverting blood flow away from the ears and skin. More blood is sent to vital organs, causing the extremities to be cooler.

As long as the ear temperature warms up within 24 hours, it is not a major concern. Check that the rest of your rabbit's body feels normal. Monitor appetite and activity level.

If ears remain severely chilled, appear blue, or feel rigid, contact your vet immediately. Extended hypothermia can be dangerous. Your rabbit may need supplemental heating.

Limit drafts and keep ambient temperatures steady. Offer extra soft blankets. Once fully recovered from anesthesia and surgery trauma, your rabbit's circulation should normalize and ear temperature along with it.

How To Check Your Rabbit’s Temperature

Checking your rabbit's temperature at home can help monitor health and catch fevers early. Here are some tips:

Supplies Needed:

  • Digital rectal thermometer suitable for pet rabbits
  • Water-based lubricant
  • Towel


  1. Hold your rabbit gently but firmly on your lap, wrapped in a towel.

  2. Lubricate the tip of the thermometer with water-based lubricant.

  3. Gently lift your rabbit's tail and insert the thermometer about 1 inch into the rectum.

  4. Hold the thermometer still for about 60 seconds until it beeps.

  5. Gently remove the thermometer and read the temperature.

  6. Normal rabbit temperature is 101-103°F.

  7. Wipe the thermometer clean.

  8. Notify your vet if the temperature is over 104°F as this could indicate a dangerous fever requiring treatment.

  9. Reward your rabbit with cuddles and treats for behaving during the process.

Perform rectal temperature checks when you suspect illness and note any concerning changes. Monitoring your rabbit's temperature along with symptoms will help your vet diagnose and treat health issues early.

Don’t Stress Your Pet

When monitoring your rabbit's ear temperature, be aware of causing unnecessary stress. Rabbits are prey animals by nature and being excessively handled can raise their heart rate and body temperature. Here are some tips to keep the process calm:

  • Approach slowly and speak soothingly before touching your rabbit. Sudden handling can startle them.

  • Pet your rabbit's head and back before touching the ears to help them relax into the contact.

  • Massage the base of the ears first before progressing to gently cup the tip.

  • Limit ear checks to 1-2 times daily at most for health tracking.

  • Reward your rabbit with a small treat after ear checks to build a positive association.

  • Perform ear checks in your rabbit's home territory rather than moving them to unfamiliar places.

  • Use warming pads for chilled rabbits rather than stressful blow dryers or heat lamps.

  • Avoid restraining rabbits tightly or pursing them during health checks. This can harm trust.

With patience and care, you can monitor your rabbit's ear temperature changes without creating anxiety or resistance. Keep health tracking relaxed and take it at your pet's pace.


When evaluating the temperature of your rabbit's ears, keep these considerations in mind:

  • Check both ears. Compare temperatures. Uneven or unilateral coldness may indicate a problem.

  • Note any changes in ear stiffness, color, or texture along with temperature. Discoloration or rigidity can indicate an issue.

  • Be alert for other symptoms accompanying ear temperature changes – lack of appetite, lethargy, hunched posture all warrant seeing a vet.

  • Monitor ambient temperature. Ears may feel cooler in a cold room versus a hot room. Keep conditions consistent when tracking changes over time.

  • Consider your rabbit's age and health history. Elderly or unwell rabbits are more vulnerable to temperature fluctuations.

  • Weigh your rabbit regularly to catch concerning weight loss that could tie to a health issue.

  • Establish a baseline for your rabbit's normal ear temperature when they are healthy to more easily notice deviations.

  • Discuss any major or persistent ear temperature changes with your veterinarian to rule out underlying causes.

Being observant of subtleties and trends will help you determine when chilled ears are normal versus a cause for medical intervention. Know your rabbit's individual norms.

My Rabbit Has Cold Ears And Isn’t Eating

If your rabbit has cold ears and isn't eating, it can signal an underlying health problem requiring veterinary attention. Here's what you need to know:


  • Dental disease – Ear/tooth root connections mean dental pain can cause ear pain and temperature changes. Your rabbit may stop eating.

  • Infection – Abscesses, ear mites, respiratory infections and other illnesses cause fever, inappetence, and circulatory changes.

  • Gastrointestinal stasis – Slowed gut motility prevents digestion. Toxins build up causing systemic changes.

  • Pain – Arthritis, injury, or surgery trauma can result in unresolved pain and poor blood flow.


  • Malnutrition and muscle wasting from lack of food intake.

  • Gut stasis can progress to lethal bloat if untreated.

  • Underlying infection may spread without antibiotic treatment.

  • Hypothermia as the rabbit struggles to regulate temperature.

What to Do:

  • Schedule an urgent veterinary visit for full examination.

  • Provide warm, supportive care at home with blankets and hydration.

  • Coax your rabbit to eat by offering fresh greens and favorite treats.

  • Monitor for worsening diarrhea, small and/or misshapen poops.

A rabbit refusing food while having cold ears indicates illness and requires prompt veterinary diagnosis and treatment. With supportive home care and your vet's prescribed therapy, your rabbit should recover fully.

Causes Of Ileus In Rabbits

Ileus is a dangerous condition where the rabbit's intestines slow down or stop moving entirely. This disrupts digestion, causing a painful backup of gas, fluids, and waste material. Some common causes of ileus in rabbits include:

  • Injury – Blunt trauma to the abdomen from falling or being hit. This can bruise, tear, or paralyze areas of intestine.

  • Blockages – Ingested hair, carpet strands, or indigestible materials form obstructions. This causes a traffic jam.

  • Dehydration – Lack of fluid causes the intestines to dry out, harden, and lose motility.

  • Pain – From incisions, infection, or dental problems. The body responds by suppressing gut function.

  • Parasites – Some worms or coccidia disrupt the intestinal lining or block passages.

  • Medications – Antibiotics like chloramphenicol can cause harmful side effects.

  • Tumors – Cancerous growths take up space and compress the intestines.

  • Bacterial imbalances – "Bad" gut bacteria flourish and release harmful gases and inflammation.

Ileus should be treated as a medical emergency. At the first signs of a slowing gut, take your rabbit to the veterinarian for appropriate therapy. Early treatment greatly improves recovery odds.

Ileus Signs and Symptoms

Signs that your rabbit may have ileus include:

  • Small, misshapen, or less frequent fecal poops

  • Lack of fecal poops but ongoing soft cecotrope poops

  • Swollen or distended abdomen from gas buildup

  • Palpable hardness or blockages felt in the abdomen

  • Loss of appetite, lethargy, teeth grinding due to nausea

  • Standing in a hunched posture with feet gathered under the body

  • Pressing the abdomen against the floor for relief

  • Cold ears and extremities from shock

  • Rapid breathing or grunting from pain and distress

  • Collapse in later stages as toxins accumulate

If your rabbit is displaying these ileus symptoms, call your vet without delay. Timely treatment is vital to preventing ileus from becoming fatal gastrointestinal stasis. Abdominal X-rays can confirm the diagnosis.


Caring for a rabbit with ileus at home involves:

  • Keeping your rabbit warm using blankets or heating pads set on low. Hypothermia worsens gut slowing.

  • Hydrating with ample fresh water, herbals teas, or pediatric electrolytes. Dehydration makes ileus worse.

  • Encouraging movement and gentle exercise if your rabbit is able. Inactivity slows the gut further.

  • Massaging the abdomen very gently. This can provide comfort and stimulate motility.

  • Providing unlimited grass hay. The fiber helps move ingesta.

  • Monitoring for worsening bloating and distension. This can impair breathing.

  • Checking your rabbit's vitals and weight frequently. Report concerns to your vet.

  • Separating from other pets to reduce stress. A calm environment aids healing.

  • Avoiding sugar, dairy, fatty foods, and treats until ileus has fully resolved. Stick to hay and water.

Alert your vet if symptoms escalate despite homecare. Never give your rabbit medication not prescribed by a vet. Patience and monitoring are key.

Diagnosis and Treatment

Veterinarians diagnose ileus through:

  • Physical exam – Palpating the abdomen reveals swelling and blockages

  • Lab work – Blood tests show electrolyte imbalances and organ issues

  • Radiographs – X-rays visualize gas patterns and abnormalities

  • Ultrasound – Provides clearer imaging of organ changes

  • Contrast studies – Traces movement of barium liquid through the gut

Treatment options include:

  • IV fluids and electrolytes to restore hydration

  • Pain management with non-steroidal anti-inflammatories

  • Prokinetic drugs to stimulate and coordinate gut contractions

  • Laxatives and enemas to loosen blockages

  • Antibiotics if infection caused the ileus

  • Surgery to remove obstructions or diseased sections of intestine

  • Euthanasia if the intestine is damaged beyond repair or the rabbit is in overwhelming pain

With aggressive therapy and monitoring, about 50% of ileus cases resolve. However, recurrence is common. Prevention aims to limit gut slowdowns through proper diet and hydration.

How to Prevent Loss of Appetite in Rabbits

Loss of appetite (inappetence) in rabbits can stem from stress, pain, or illness. Here are some tips to help prevent your rabbit from going off their food:

  • Feed a high-quality diet of unlimited timothy or meadow grass hay. Hay promotes healthy digestion and contains nutrients rabbits constantly crave.

  • Gradually transition between food brands or introduce new veggies to avoid tummy upsets.

  • Establish a consistent feeding schedule so your rabbit knows when to expect meals.

  • Make sure fresh water is always available in clean bowls. Dehydration decreases appetite.

  • Provide safe chew toys to help wear down continually growing teeth. Eliminate dental pain.

  • Groom your rabbit frequently to prevent fur blockages that obstruct digestion.

  • Clean the litter box regularly since rabbits may stop eating near soiled areas.

  • Give your rabbit ample exercise and playtime. Physical activity stimulates the appetite.

  • Use familiar dishes in quiet feeding zones to prevent stress at mealtimes.

  • Monitor your rabbit's weight, poops, and behaviors daily so changes don't go unnoticed.

  • Have an emergency supply of your rabbit's favorite foods on hand to entice eating.

With attentive preventative care, your rabbit is less likely to suffer dangerous bouts of gut slowdown and appetite loss. Consult your vet if concerns arise.


A rabbit's large, thin ears play a vital role in regulating their body temperature.

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