It’s not always easy to tell if baby rabbits are dead. They’re small, they’re cute, and they don’t move much. Sometimes, they don’t move at all.
If you’re not sure whether your little bundle of joy is alive, here are a few ways to check for signs of life.
Signs To Look For
Use the following tips to help determine if your rabbits are doing okay.
Check for Heartbeat and Warmth
First, check for signs of life, such as breathing or a heartbeat. If there’s no response after a few minutes, gently touch the rabbit’s body to see if it feels warm or cold.
If it’s cold, there’s a good chance that the rabbit has passed away.
If you find a cold bunny, here’s what to do: pressed up against your warm body, the kit will soon regain its heat.
Keep in mind that a rabbit’s ideal temperature is 102 degrees Fahrenheit, while your body is 98 degrees.
This temperature difference means it could take a few hours for the little one to come back to life.
Once it’s moving – no matter how slowly – put it back into a warm nest with its littermates so it can finish thawing out.
No Response To Touch
As any animal lover knows, when you pet a living bunny, it will usually respond by moving around to get more comfortable or pushing your hand away.
However, if a bunny is still for a long period and unresponsive to touch, it’s likely dead.
If the bunny looks alive but is not moving, checking for closed eyes and floppy ears are surefire ways to tell if bunnies are deceased.
Sunken Eyes and Discoloration Around the Mouth and Ears
One of the first things you’ll notice about a dead baby rabbit is that its eyes will be sunken in and its mouth and ears will appear matted and discolored.
If the bunny’s coat was previously white, it may now have a yellowish tinge. The skin on the ears may also look dry and scaly.
These are all signs that the animal is not getting enough blood flow, which happens when it’s lost its life.
Signs of Severe Dehydration
To tell if baby rabbits are dead, look for wrinkled and dry skin due to dehydration. These signs don’t necessarily mean that the cause of death is dehydration.
Death manifests through these signs because the kidneys stop working when the rabbit dies.
Without working kidneys, urine production reduces and stops, and excess salts build up in the body. This can be indicated by salt crystals around the mouth and nose.
If you see these signs, the rabbits are likely deceased.
Sunken Belly and Swollen Eyes
Baby rabbits usually have plump, round bellies; if the belly is flat or sunken in, that’s another indicator of death.
Sometimes, dead baby rabbits can swell up, particularly around the eyes, feet, and tail. The swelling happens due to a buildup of gas from the micro-organisms in their gut.
If you see any of these signs, unfortunately, it’s time to bury your bunny and say goodbye.
Signs of Rigor Mortis
The same goes for furry baby rabbits. Here are some ways to tell if your baby rabbit has joined the Choir Invisible.
Look for evidence of rigor mortis, which is when the body stiffens after death. This happens because of a lack of ATP, which causes muscle contraction.
Baby rabbits are born helpless and need their mother’s care to survive.
If you’re not sure whether the baby rabbits in a litter are alive or dead, there are a few signs you can look for in the mother rabbit.
If the mother rabbit is licking the babies and trying to keep them warm, they’re probably alive.
However, if the mother rabbit is ignoring the babies and hasn’t visited the nest in several days, this is a bad sign. Your bunnies could be dead.
In extreme cases, you may notice a bad odor coming from the nest. Dead animals tend to decompose quickly, and this will often be accompanied by a strong smell.
If you notice an unusual odor coming from the nest, it’s best to contact a wildlife expert or veterinarian for advice.
Try Reviving Your Bunny
Dying baby bunnies remain motionless for extended periods. They also don’t respond to anything, not even your touch.
Before calling a veterinarian or taking your litter to a clinic, it would be best to try and revive them.
If your rabbit stops breathing or has no pulse, it is essential to begin CPR immediately. Here is a step-by-step guide on how to perform CPR on a rabbit:
1. Check for signs of life. Gently tap the rabbit on the shoulder and see if there is any response. If the rabbit does not respond, proceed to step 2.
2. Open the rabbit’s mouth and check for obstructions. Use your fingers to carefully sweep any debris out of the mouth.
Be careful not to push too far down the throat, as this could cause vomiting.
3. Place the heel of your hand just behind the rabbit’s front legs and give five sharp thrusts downwards. This will help to dislodge any food or liquid that may be blocking the airway.
4. Place a tissue or gauze over the rabbit’s mouth and nose, to prevent disease transfer. Pinch the rabbit’s nostrils shut and cover its mouth with yours.
Breathe gently into the rabbit’s lungs, taking care not to force too much air into its lungs. You should see the chest rise with each breath.
5. Place your thumb on the rabbit’s chest and give 30 compressions at a rate of three per second.
These compressions will help to circulate oxygenated blood through the body and keep the heart beating.
6. Repeat steps 3-5 until professional help arrives or the rabbit begins to breathe on its own.
If at any point you feel exhausted or uncomfortable, stop performing CPR and seek medical assistance immediately.
Of course, the best way to save your bunny is to consult with a veterinarian.
What To Do With Dead Baby Rabbits?
If you have the unfortunate experience of finding your baby rabbit, there are a few things you can do with the body.
You can’t simply throw any carcass in a trash can. You run the risk of being slapped with a hefty fine.
If the mere thought of dealing with a dead animal is enough to make you queasy, call your local vet for advice.
It’s also a good idea to call your local sanitation unit. They should provide you with instructions on how to deal with the carcass. In most cases, they will schedule a pickup.
But if you’re feeling brave, bury the carcass. This is a good option if you have the space and access to digging equipment.
Make sure to bury the rabbit at least two feet deep to deter predators from digging it up.
It can be hard to tell if your precious baby rabbit is dead. They’re so little and fragile, but luckily this article discusses how you might find out for sure whether or not they’re still alive.
If you’re still not sure, your best bet is to contact a veterinarian or a local animal shelter for guidance.
They’ll be able to help you determine if your bunny is truly gone or if there’s still hope for a miracle.
It’s also wise to discuss with a veterinarian how to deal with the dead bunnies and how to prevent more deaths.