The question I came to answer today may have surprised you. You are used to the fact that if something feels wrong, your body expels it through vomiting. You may find it quite strange to think that there is an animal that may not be able to vomit. Having said this, do rabbits vomit?
Rabbits cannot vomit. But what prevents them from vomiting? How do I know my rabbit is unwell? Their digestive system is designed in such a way that food can enter through their system but not leave through the same route.
What prevents rabbits from vomiting?
The rabbit’s anatomy is what makes vomiting impossible. Their digestive system is designed in such a way that food can enter through their system but not leave through the same route.
Here is the thing; The digestive system of the rabbit is divided into
- Stomach: it represents about 34% of the digestive system and is always partially filled with food.
- Small intestine (duodenum, jejunum, ileum): the small intestine ends with a more expanded part, called the round saccule that connects to the ampulla, which is the initial part of the large intestine and represents the intersection point between ileus, and colon.
- Large intestine (colon, rectum): It is functionally the most important part of the entire gastroenteric tract. The proximal colon and the distal colon are separated and regulate the passage of food material through nerve stimuli. It allows the separation between the fibrous portion of food and the non-fibrous portion.
As a monogastric animal, the single stomach cannot perform the functions of ruminants. It has a highly developed sphincter of the cardia that generates an inability to vomit. Its digestive system is highly specialized for a diet rich in fiber (mainly grass).
Unlike other animals, the most important part of the gastro-enteric tract is not the stomach (which acts only as a “warehouse” of food), but the intestine, where the digestive phenomena of the food occur.
How rabbits make up for not vomiting
Vomiting is a natural way the body protects itself against toxins in the stomach. For a pet like rabbits absence of vomiting means that when they ingest toxins, they cannot instantly remove them.
Although they lack vomiting capacity, a key integral part of the defense mechanism against toxins is a well-adapted first response to danger through smell and taste. This makes them to easily avoid foods that contain toxins and which may eventually lead to vomiting. Alternatively, rabbits develop a hyper-sensitive food avoidance mechanism that helps to compensate for their inability to vomit.
Good sense of smell and taste is not, however, proven evidence. At times rabbits can get intoxicated and even experience nausea. Fortunately, rabbits have, with time, developed an alternative to vomiting by eating non-nutritious substances.
This includes things like hardwood litter, dirt, and materials that they would not eat under normal circumstances. These non-nutritious substances help neutralize the effect of toxins. So this is considered a way of defense.
There have been cases where people have said that their rabbit has vomited. A very strong spasm of the stomach can lead to returning the food, but it would never come out through the mouth but through the nose. So the rabbits do not vomit; it only happens in very rare, isolated cases.
How to check rabbit health
The behaviors suggested in the first part should help prevent the most important pathologies that can affect the rabbit; however, there may be problems. To understand if your rabbit is sick, you need to know him well and how it usually behaves.
Only in this way is it possible to understand if there are changes taking place and, therefore, necessary to be alarmed. A sudden apathy could hide health problems. Secondly, it is necessary to have a rectal thermometer suitable for a rabbit handy.
Normally, the normal temperature ranges from 38 to 40 ° C. If it is excessively low or too high, it is better to be alarmed. The heartbeat, however, should be from 120 to 150 per minute.
Other important signs of rabbit health come from the feces. When going to the veterinarian, it would be desirable to bring with them even a minimal amount of feces. If they are liquid, there is certainly a gastrointestinal problem. Diarrhea in rabbits can be the symptom of enteritis or intestinal parasites, which are very dangerous.
In adult rabbits, however, diarrhea can be the sign of a wrong diet and low in fiber. To stay healthy, the rabbit should eat often, but above all, eat food suitable for it, without exceeding carbohydrates and proteins. Furthermore, the rabbit must not always remain closed in a cage but must have the possibility to move.
What can cause poisoning in rabbits?
There are many causes of rabbit poisoning. Some of them are:
- Mold: Moldy food is just as toxic to rabbits as hay, which is infused with mold.
- Poisonous plants: Oleanders, Dieffenbachia, and heather plants are poisonous plants for the rabbit.
- Heavy metals: Poisoning is possible, for example, if the rabbit gnaws paint off objects.
- Medications: Active substances that are overdosed or intolerance can cause poisoning in rabbits.
- Fertilizers, weed killers, pesticides, poisonous baits: The rabbit eats poisonous substances through contaminated green feed or, for example, snail grain or rat poison (for example, coumarin poisoning).
- Cleaning agents, fragrances: The rabbit breathes in the harmful vapors or nibbles on objects that are wetted by the toxic substances.
How do poisonings in rabbits manifest themselves?
Poisoning manifests itself in rabbits through various symptoms. How the pet owner recognizes poisoning in his rabbit depends on the poison that the rabbit has ingested. The following and other symptoms may indicate rabbit poisoning:
- Increased salivation
- Strong thirst, increased drinking (polydipsia) in the rabbit
- Rabbit eager to eat
- Diarrhea or constipation in rabbits
- Blood in the urine (hematuria) in rabbits
- Bleeding, e.g., nosebleeds
- Pupil changes
- Shortness of breath
- Muscle tremors, seizures
- Drowsiness, loss of consciousness
With chronic poisoning, i.e., when the rabbit ingests small amounts of poison over a long period, the symptoms appear slowly. Then, for example, skin changes, pale (anemia) or blue coloration of the mucous membranes (cyanosis), unwillingness to eat, and emaciation are possible. Depending on the type of poisoning, the rabbit appears sick and listless, sometimes loses fur (hair loss in the rabbit), or shows other symptoms.
How can rabbit poisoning be treated?
The treatment of the poison in rabbits depends, among other things, on the type and amount of poison. The vet can administer an antidote against certain toxins. This inhibits the effect of the poison.
If the poison is not known, the treatment is based on the respective symptoms. In the case of poor circulation, for example, the veterinarian administers circulatory drugs and infusions. In general, infusions help with poisoning to stabilize the circulation and stimulate excretion (forced diuresis).
Certain active substances (diuretics) are also suitable for this purpose. If the veterinarian suspects that the rabbit’s poisoning was triggered by heavy metals, for example, he uses so-called chelating agents (for example, EDTA) for treatment. These substances bind toxic metal particles.
It is therefore advisable for rabbit breeders to always check their pets on any unusual behavior so that it can be treated in good time. Always feed your rabbits with food that boosts their immunity. This will ensure in case your rabbit fall ill; it will recover from it easily and get back to its feet in no time!
Conclusion: Can rabbits vomit?
Now you know that rabbits cannot vomit and you know the reason why. You still need to keep a close eye on your rabbit if the show strange behaviors which may be a sign they are nor well.
Always seek medical advice if you feel your rabbit is unwell. The information in this article if to help you understand if they can vomit so you can keep an eye out for their wellbeing.