Rabbits are notorious for hiding their feelings and not making a fuss.
I have often noticed that my bunnies are easily scared by loud noises such as thunder or fireworks. When they hear these loud banging noises, they often try and hide under my table to run back to their cage area.
Loud fireworks are scary and stressful for all rabbits. The sudden banding sound can cause them to panic.
Let’s explore why bunnies are scared of fireworks and how to protect them!
Are Bunnies Scared of Fireworks?
While not all rabbits are terrified of fireworks, some are truly petrified of them.
Some rabbits might react with mild fear, but others will exhibit clear signs of fright and shock.
But why are bunnies scared of fireworks? Rabbits are hardwired to be alert and run at the first sign of danger. Sudden loud noises startle bunnies, causing them to become fearful.
Since fireworks erupt randomly and the bunnies cannot find their source, they get confused and afraid.
It can cause them to stress out and develop stress-related problems.
Fireworks are more likely to impact rabbits in outdoor cages since they don’t have walls to mute the loud noise. However, even indoor rabbits need help in staying calm during firework displays.
Are Younger Bunnies More Afraid of Fireworks Than Older Ones?
As rabbits grow up, they get used to loud noises by having more exposure to them.
Sudden loud sounds, such as thunder, dogs barking, neighborhood construction, etc., can desensitize them.
Even if they are not entirely desensitized, they will be less fearful than younger rabbits.
Kits and relatively younger bunnies not exposed to these sounds experience more fear during fireworks.
Since they have limited exposure to loud, sudden sounds, they will react with more anxiety, confusion, and fear. You will need to calm them down. Otherwise, they can experience stress-related illnesses.
How to Recognize Shock in Rabbits
Even though it’s not common, bunnies can go into shock during fireworks.
It can cause their bodies to shut down. When left untreated, it can cause death.
Here are some symptoms of shock in a rabbit:
- Your rabbit will stop responding to touch and will remain limp in your arms
- Its gums will turn pale or blue instead of having a healthy pink hue.
- It will have a thread pulse.
- Your bunny’s ears and other extremities will turn cold.
- It will start hyperventilating. At times, its mouth will be open, and it will attempt to breathe through it, which is unusual in bunnies.
- Your bunny’s temperature will remain low and drop below 100 degrees Fahrenheit.
- It will have dull, unfocused eyes.
If you see your rabbit exhibiting any of these signs, it’s best to take them to the vet right away.
Signs of Distress & Fear in Bunnies
Rabbits don’t whine when they are fearful. Their body language displays their fear and anxiousness.
Here are symptoms of fear and distress in rabbits:
- Agitated Movements/ Stomping: Your rabbit will start thumping or stomping its rear legs, a sign of adrenaline coursing through its body.
- Staying Still: If your bunny is terrified, it will stop moving entirely, acting like a deer struck by headlights. It might freeze or flatten itself to the ground.
- Alertness: If your rabbit is worried or scared, it will remain on high alert with a rigid body posture and ears pointed forward. It might shift its legs and perch on its tip-toes.
- Excessive Grooming: While rabbits are known for keeping themselves clean, excessive grooming is caused by stress. If your rabbit is cleaning itself vigorously, it might be afraid.
- Hiding: Bunnies often hide away when they are afraid. It’s their way of escaping danger. Your bunny might poke its head out from time to time to see if the danger has passed.
- Aggression: Your rabbit might try to growl or swat at you if you approach it. Bunnies act this way to protect themselves from perceived dangers.
- Not Eating: Bunnies constantly graze and only stop eating when they are stressed or not well. If your bunny stops eating entirely, it means it’s scared of the fireworks.
- Escape Attempts: Your rabbit might try to escape its hutch frantically if it’s afraid of the fireworks. It can injure itself in the process, so supervision is necessary.
How to Calm Your Rabbit During Fireworks
Here are some steps you can take to keep your rabbit from getting anxious or fearful during fireworks:
Soundproof Your Home
Firstly, you need to soundproof your house the moment the fireworks start. Close all the windows and doors and draw all the curtains.
Keep the cage in the quietest corner of the house.
Keep the bunny away from bright lights and all noises coming from outside. You can keep familiar noises, such as the TV on, to drown loud outdoor noises.
Keep the Outdoor Hutch Covered
If, for some reason, your bunny’s hutch is outdoors and you cannot bring it inside, cover it with blankets.
This way, you can soundproof it a little. Just make sure to leave some space for ventilation.
If you have the option, place the cage inside a shed or garage to ensure your rabbit can have some reprieve from the loud banging noise.
Play Some Type of White Noise or Music
Make sure to keep background noise when the fireworks are about to start.
You can play some gentle music or use a small white noise machine to block out the noise of the fireworks.
They work surprisingly well to mute firework noise. If you don’t have a machine, you can use the sound of air conditioning or a fan to act as white noise.
Alternatively, you can put on some nature sounds or classical music to cover up the sound of fireworks. Don’t use nature sounds that include loud bird calls as they can scare your rabbit.
Give Your Bunny Ample Spaces to Hide
Make sure your rabbit’s hutch has ample spaces for them to hide in and feel safe.
Give them extra bedding so they can bury themselves deep inside to drown out the noise of the fireworks.
Hiding will enable your bunny to feel comforted and safe. Keep tunnels and hiding houses inside the hutch. With more hiding spots, your bunny will feel secure enough to poke its head out.
It will increase its confidence and keep it from feeling too fearful as it will have the option to hide if it senses danger.
Without any hiding spot, your bunny will feel trapped and exposed.
Keep the floor of the cage from being slippery. If the floor is slippery and your bunny is afraid, it can suffer from a back injury while trying to run and fall due to the lack of traction.
Stay Next to the Hutch
If your rabbit has not yet been exposed to the sound of fireworks, make sure you stay next to them. Don’t forcefully take the bunny out of the hatch or pet it.
It will not comfort your rabbit; it will further aggravate it or stress it out. Your bunny will be relaxed because you are accessible to it and close to its cage.
If you have a close bond with your rabbit, you can give it gentle pets while it stays inside the cage. You can also talk to it gently so that it can calm down.
Lay down next to the cage and give your rabbit ear and head scratches. It will mimic the behavior rabbits exhibit when in pairs or groups. You can also cover its ears with your hands.
If your rabbit gets exceptionally stressed, you can gently cut your hands over its eyes. This way, you will limit the external stimulus that reaches the brain.
Distract the Rabbit with Toys to Facilitate Natural Behavior
You need to keep lots of toys and chewable materials inside the cage. These will distract your rabbit while the fireworks go on.
Keep treats inside fun toys and put them inside the cage so that the rabbit associates firework noises with getting delicious treats.
You can also distract your bunny by engaging in a training session with them. Make it practice its routine or tricks if you have taught it any to keep it from focusing on the fireworks.
Moreover, give your bunny lots of chew toys, stuff it can forage, and digging material. It will allow it to exhibit its natural behavior,
Keep wooden toys or branches inside the cage. Give your rabbit hanging toys, dried-out pine cones, or even apple branches it can chew on to relieve its stress.
Make a digging box for your bunny by putting some cardboard boxes on the ground and flattening them. You can also use old sheets and cotton blankets that your rabbit can burrow into to keep stress at bay.
Keep Your Rabbit Happy & Stress-Free
Rabbits that get overly stressed tend to remain anxious for a few days or a week after the incident. They may act more fidgety and nervous.
Give them time to recover, pet them if they like it, give them treats, and let them know they’ll be alright.
If you give your bunny a quiet environment to recover and lots of toys to have fun with, it will eventually forget about the stressful event.
Last Few Words
Take the steps mentioned above to keep your rabbit from overstressing during fireworks. They will help you calm your bunny down and keep it from experiencing stress or fear-related illnesses.
Lastly, as your rabbit gets back to its routine and grows up, slowly start desensitizing it to loud sounds.
Find a recording of fireworks and get your bunny used to the sound in a safe environment.
Play the sound on a low volume while your rabbit is munching on its leafy greens. Increase the volume until the bunny notices it and does not show signs of fear.
If it exhibits signs of fear, lower the sound. Keep playing the fireworks at this low volume for the next few days.
Start increasing the volume day by day to give your bunny the chance to get attuned to it.
If it gets agitated, lower the volume, keep the same volume for a few days, and then try again. After your bunny is comfortable with the recording, start varying the volume.
Increase it and then decrease it for loud and soft firework noises. It will help your rabbit get desensitized to what actual fireworks might sound like going outside your home.
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