Did your bunny scream and then die, which makes you wonder if rabbits scream when they die?
You are not alone on this many have experienced it, and we have once encountered a scream scenario in our rabbitry.
In this article, we will discuss the rabbits’ vocalizations, specifically focusing on their scream, why they scream, and if they scream at the point of death.
Rabbits are generally silent creatures, preferring to communicate using body language. Still, they have various vocalizations that can convey their emotions or alert others to their needs.
These sounds can include soft purring, low grunts, thumps, and in very rare situations, high-pitched screams.
- Happy sounds: When content, a rabbit might make soft purring or humming sounds, much like a cat. This usually happens when they’re gently stroked or enjoying their favorite treat.
- Curious sounds: If your bunny explores its surroundings or plays with its toys, it may make quiet grunting or “honking” sounds.
- Distressed sounds: More urgent sounds like thumping, growling, or even screaming indicate that your rabbit is distressed, scared, or in pain.
Rabbit Scream – What Does It Mean?
A rabbit scream is a high-pitched, very loud, and distressing sound.
It’s described as similar to a child’s scream, and it’s certainly not a sound you would want to hear from your bunny.
Rabbit screams typically signify extreme fear, pain, or stress.
Rabbit screams are very rare. Rabbits, being prey animals, often hide signs of distress to avoid attracting attention from predators.
If a rabbit resorts to screaming, it’s a clear sign that they’re experiencing extreme distress.
Do Rabbits Scream When They Die?
Rabbits can scream when in extreme distress or pain, but this is not necessarily indicative of death.
Rabbits do not have a specific vocalization reserved for the process of dying.
However, if they are severely injured, or under tremendous stress, a rabbit might scream, and if they don’t receive immediate help, such situations could potentially lead to their death.
Why Might a Rabbit Scream?
A rabbit’s scream is a clear and urgent signal of extreme distress. While rare, it can be a frightening experience for a rabbit owner.
If you know the potential reasons for a rabbit scream, you can respond effectively to such an emergency and even prevent some instances where a rabbit might scream.
Here are some possible scenarios:
1. Threat from a Predator
Rabbits are naturally prey animals, making them a target for various predators, including dogs, cats, and large birds.
Even though domestic rabbits live in a safer environment than their wild counterparts, their instincts to sense danger remain strong.
If your rabbit perceives a threat from a predator, it might scream.
This could be a reaction to a new pet in the house, a nearby wild animal, or even a sudden, predator-like movement from a human.
Keeping your rabbit in a secure environment and introducing new animals slowly and under close supervision can help prevent such a traumatic event.
2. Severe Pain or Injury
Physical pain is another reason why a rabbit might scream.
This was the case in our rabbitry, where the rabbit screamed because it ‘quick’ was mistakenly cut while trimming its nails.
A rabbit could be in severe pain due to internal issues like gastrointestinal stasis, kidney stones, or a fracture from an accidental fall or mishap.
The pain can become so unbearable in these cases that a rabbit might scream.
You should closely monitor your rabbit’s health and behavior and provide them with a safe environment.
3. Extreme Fear or Stress
Rabbits can also scream due to intense fear or stress.
This could be caused by various factors, including sudden loud noises, exposure to unfamiliar or intimidating animals or humans, or significant changes in their environment.
For example, rabbits might become severely stressed during transport, so making their travel carriers as comfortable as possible and keeping journeys short is necessary.
They could also get stressed from sudden environmental changes, like moving to a new house or rearranging their living area.
4. Handling Discomfort
Although not as common, some rabbits might scream if they’re extremely uncomfortable with how they’re being handled.
Rabbits prefer to have their feet on the ground, and being lifted or held incorrectly can cause them severe stress and anxiety.
It would help if you learned how to handle your rabbit correctly to avoid causing them discomfort or fear.
5. Mistreatment or Abuse
Sadly, mistreatment or abuse can cause a rabbit to scream.
This could be physical abuse, but it also includes neglect, such as insufficient food or water, dirty living conditions, or lack of social interaction.
All of these can lead to extreme distress and potentially elicit a scream.
Pet rabbits are a commitment and require regular care and interaction. They need a clean living space, a balanced diet, and opportunities to exercise and socialize.
What to Do If Your Rabbit Screams
It is a serious situation requiring immediate attention if you hear your rabbit scream.
Here’s a guide on what to do if your rabbit screams.
1. Ensure Immediate Safety
Your first response should be to ensure that the rabbit is safe from any immediate threats. If a predator or another pet is causing distress, separate them immediately.
If an environmental factor, like a loud noise or a sudden change, is the cause, try to eliminate it or remove your rabbit from the situation if possible.
2. Remain Calm
Hearing your rabbit scream can be distressing, but you should remain calm.
Rabbits are highly sensitive to the emotions of those around them, and if you are panicking, it may further stress the rabbit.
Speak softly to your rabbit and avoid sudden or fast movements that might scare them further.
3. Perform a Gentle Check
If it’s safe to do so, and without causing further stress to the rabbit, try to perform a gentle check. Look for signs of visible injuries, such as cuts, wounds, or blood.
Notice if the rabbit has an abnormal posture or favors one leg, which might indicate pain.
If your rabbit is not eating or drinking or shows changes in their behavior, these could be signs of discomfort or pain.
4. Contact a Vet Immediately
After ensuring immediate safety and performing a gentle check, it’s time to get professional help. Contact your vet immediately.
Explain the situation clearly and follow the instructions provided by the vet.
Even if there are no visible signs of injury or sickness, a scream is a serious indication of distress and should always be evaluated by a professional.
Here are some frequently asked questions on whether rabbits scream when they die.
What Does a Rabbit Scream Sound Like?
A rabbit’s scream sounds like a squeal or cry.
The scream is a distressing and unpleasant sound to hear.
A rabbit’s scream could be likened to people’s human scream and a bird’s squawk.
Why Do Some Rabbits Die With Open Eye?
It is abnormal for rabbits to die with their eye open.
Nonetheless, many reasons could cause a rabbit to die with her eyes open.
Some of the reasons why some rabbits die with open eyes include:
1. Sudden Death
Medical emergencies like traumatic injury, severe accidents, etc., could cause a rabbit to die with its eyes open.
A rabbit dies with her eyes open due to muscle contractions and a lack of relaxation of the eyelids after death.
2. Chronic Health Condition
Chronic health conditions could cause a rabbit to die with her eyes open.
In these cases, the eyes may remain open due to a lack of muscle tone or a gradual loss of consciousness.
Do Rabbits Die Quietly?
Yes, rabbits can die quietly, depending on the circumstances surrounding the death.
If a rabbit’s death is natural and peaceful, the rabbit would quietly die without showing signs of distress or pain.
A rabbit’s scream is not indicative of death but a signal of extreme distress.
But this does rule out the fact that they may scream when they’re about to die due to pain and distress.
Some rabbits can also die quietly, especially if they die a natural death.
You should always provide your bunny with a safe, secure, and stress-free environment to minimize distress and ensure their well-being.
We hope this article helped you know if rabbits scream when they die. If you have any other questions, please comment below, and we will answer them.
Textbook of Rabbit Medicine (Second Edition). 2014 : 3–108. Molly Varga BVetMed DZooMed MRCVS
Veterinary Surgeon, Cheshire Pet, Holmes Chapel, Cheshire, England, UK. doi: 10.1016/B978-0-7020-4979-8.00001-7