Has your furry friend been feeling under the weather lately? Have their ears lost their warm glow and gone cold to the touch? It’s puzzling, but don’t worry – cold ears aren’t always a bad sign for bunnies. Join us as we dig into the mysterious case of the cold-eared rabbit! We’ll explore why your rabbit radiates such chill vibes through those adorable ears. Are they supposed to be that chilly? When should it raise red flags? Is it serious or just an amusing quirk? Grab some carrots and get ready to have all your questions answered as we uncover the secrets behind your rabbit’s fascinating temperature regulation strategies! It’s an exciting hop down the rabbit hole you won’t want to miss!

Why Are My Rabbit’s Ears So Cold?

It's normal for your rabbit's ears to feel cool or cold to the touch. A rabbit's ears play an important role in temperature regulation, as they don't have the ability to sweat like humans do. Rabbits release excess heat through their ears, which allows heat to dissipate more quickly. This is why your rabbit's ears may feel cold compared to the rest of their body. The blood vessels in the ears flush with blood to either constrict to conserve body heat or dilate to release it. So cold ears can actually be a sign that your rabbit's temperature regulation system is working properly!

Temperature Regulation in Rabbits

Rabbits are unable to regulate their body temperature through sweating like humans do. Instead, they rely on their large, thin ears to release excess body heat. Here's how it works:

  • Blood vessels dilate – When a rabbit's body temperature rises, blood vessels in the ears dilate and fill with blood. This allows more heat to be released through the skin of the ears.

  • Blood flow increases – More blood circulating through the ears also speeds up heat transfer. As blood moves through the dilated vessels, heat is quickly dissipated into the environment.

  • Ears feel cool – Because heat is rapidly lost through the ears, they can feel cool or cold to the touch compared to the rest of the rabbit's body.

  • Air circulation – Rabbits may also facilitate air circulation around their ears by holding them away from their body. More air contact allows greater heat dissipation.

  • Limit blood flow – When the rabbit no longer needs to cool down, the ear blood vessels constrict to limit blood flow and conserve body heat. The ears will feel warmer as less heat is lost.

So in summary, cold ears on a rabbit are usually a direct result of blood vessel changes that allow them to regulate their temperature. It's a natural and healthy process.

Are Rabbit Ears Supposed To Be Cold?

In most cases, yes – a rabbit's ears are supposed to feel cold to the touch. This is because rabbits use their ears to help regulate their body temperature.

Since rabbits do not have sweat glands like humans, they rely on their ears to release excess heat from their body. The blood vessels in a rabbit's ears will dilate and increase blood circulation to dissipate heat when their body temperature rises.

As blood moves through the ears, it quickly transfers heat from the body into the external cooler air. This makes the ears feel cold as they give off heat. The cooler the ears feel, the more heat is being released from the body.

In a healthy rabbit, you can expect the ears to be cooler than the rest of their body but still pink and flexible. Very cold, stiff, or discolored ears may indicate a problem. But for the most part, slightly cool to cold ears are completely normal for rabbits.

Some key points about cold rabbit ears:

  • Helps regulate optimal body temperature (101.5-103°F)

  • Normal and healthy temperature regulation

  • Ears feel cool or cold to the touch

  • Ears should still look pink and flexible

So in summary – yes, a rabbit's ears are supposed to feel cooler than the rest of their body! It's a sign their temperature regulation system is working properly.

When Are Cold Rabbit Ears A Cause For Concern?

While cold ears are normal for rabbits, sometimes it can be a sign of a problem. Here are some instances when cold rabbit ears warrant concern:

  • Very cold to the touch – Ears should feel cool but not ice cold. This could indicate constricted blood vessels and poor circulation.

  • Stiff, rigid ears – Lack of flexibility usually signals a problem with blood flow. Healthy ears are supple.

  • Discolored ears – Ears that look blue, white or very pale could signify inadequate blood and oxygen.

  • One ear colder than the other – A difference in temperature between ears may indicate an issue with one side.

  • Ears cold with fever – Cold ears accompanied by high body temperature can point to blood vessel problems and an inability to regulate temperature.

  • Rabbit shivering – Shivering together with cold ears shows the rabbit is struggling to conserve heat and stay warm.

  • Lethargy – A rabbit with cold ears that is also lethargic and inactive may be showing signs of hypothermia or shock.

  • Other symptoms – Cold ears along with seizure, trembling, loss of appetite or diarrhea indicates a wider health problem.

If your rabbit's ears feel extremely cold, seek veterinary advice. Your vet can pinpoint the underlying cause and provide proper treatment to restore healthy circulation. With prompt care, your bunny's ears should return to their regular cool temperature.

Rabbit’s Ears Are Cold After Being Spayed

It's common for a rabbit's ears to feel cold after they have been spayed or neutered. This temporary change is due to the anesthetics used during the surgery. Here's why your rabbit may have cold ears post-surgery:

  • Anesthesia effects – Anesthesia causes vasodilation, which enlarges blood vessels. This can increase blood flow to the ears, resulting in heat loss. The ears may feel cold as excess heat dissipates.

  • Lower body temperature – Anesthetized rabbits cannot properly regulate their body temperature. Hypothermia can develop, also causing the ears to feel colder.

  • Reduced blood circulation – Lack of movement during and after surgery can slow blood flow. Sluggish circulation reduces blood volume in the ears.

  • Pain/stress – Discomfort or stress from the surgery and anesthetic recovery may also affect circulation.

  • Lack of movement – Limited mobility after the procedure can contribute to sluggish blood flow and colder ears.

The good news is that the cold ear effect should resolve within 24-48 hours as the anesthesia wears off and normal circulation returns. Make sure your rabbit is moving around and eating normally after surgery. Contact your vet if their ears don't warm up within a couple days. With proper recovery, your bunny's ears should return to their regular cool temperature.

How To Check Your Rabbit’s Temperature

It's important for rabbit owners to know how to check their pet's temperature, as part of monitoring their health. Here are some tips:

  • Use a digital rectal thermometer designed for small animals. Never use a human thermometer.

  • Apply a small amount of lubricant to the thermometer tip before inserting to prevent discomfort.

  • Hold your rabbit securely but gently, often in an upright position against your body.

  • Gently lift the tail and insert the thermometer about 1 inch into the rectum.

  • Wait for the thermometer to beep, indicating it has recorded the temperature.

  • Normal rabbit temperature is 101.5-103°F. Anything over 103°F is considered a fever.

  • Anything below 101°F indicates hypothermia and an inability to regulate temperature.

  • Make sure to disinfect the thermometer thoroughly after each use.

  • Take the temperature whenever your rabbit is acting ill or lethargic. Checking ears first can be an early indicator.

  • Record temperatures over time to monitor any changes.

  • Seek veterinary assistance if the temperature indicates fever, hypothermia, or is unstable.

Regular temperature checks along with ear examinations can pick up early signs of illness in rabbits before it progresses. Monitoring temperature is an easy, non-invasive way to watch your rabbit's health.

Don’t Stress Your Pet

When taking your rabbit's temperature or examining its ears, it's important not to cause unnecessary stress. Here are some tips for a low-stress experience:

  • Go slowly and comfort your rabbit throughout the process with gentle stroking.

  • Wrap your rabbit in a towel to keep them contained and comfortable.

  • Have someone assist you in holding and reassuring your rabbit.

  • Use plenty of lubricant on the thermometer for smooth insertion and removal.

  • Insert and remove the thermometer slowly and straight, avoiding angling.

  • Clean the thermometer thoroughly before and after use to prevent transmission of bacteria.

  • Handle the ears gently, do not squeeze or manipulate them.

  • Stop if your rabbit shows signs of aggression or extreme distress.

  • Offer a treat afterward to help your rabbit relax and see temperature checks as a positive experience.

  • Seek advice from your vet if your rabbit struggles excessively with the process. They may recommend sedation.

With patience and care, regular temperature checks and ear exams will become routine. Ensuring your rabbit stays calm and secure will benefit their health in the long run.


When evaluating your rabbit's ear temperature, keep the following in mind:

  • Time of day – Ear temperature can vary naturally throughout the day. Check in the morning before temperature increases.

  • Room temperature – Ambient temperature affects rabbit ear heat. Make sure the room is comfortably cool.

  • Activity level – Ears may feel warmer after exercise as blood circulates. Let your rabbit rest before checking.

  • Food/water intake – Hydration status impacts blood volume and flow. Ensure your rabbit is drinking normally.

  • Fur coat – Long, dense fur can retain heat and keep ears warmer. Consider coat length when checking.

  • Environment – Drafts, direct sunlight, wetness, and other elements can impact ear temperature. Avoid environmental extremes.

  • Health conditions – Some chronic illnesses can affect temperature regulation like hypothyroidism or heart disease.

  • Medications – Certain medications like antibiotics can alter blood flow slightly. Consider your rabbit's prescriptions.

While cool ears are normal, significant unilateral changes in ear temperature warrant further investigation. But in general, relaxed consistent monitoring minimizes stress.

My Rabbit Has Cold Ears And Isn’t Eating

If your rabbit has cold ears and stops eating, it requires prompt veterinary attention. A rabbit going off food accompanied by cold ears can indicate:

  • Gastrointestinal stasis – A dangerous condition where gut motility slows. Food isn't digested properly. Requires immediate treatment.

  • Pain – Abdominal pain from gas, bloating or obstruction prevents eating. Ears get cold from poor circulation.

  • Tooth problems – Dental disease impedes chewing and causes mouth pain. Cold ears signal discomfort.

  • Ear infection – Infection and inflammation make ears painful. The rabbit avoids eating.

  • Stress – External stressors suppress appetite. Cold extremities develop from anxiety.

  • Hypothermia – Low body temperature from illness or environment causes loss of appetite and cold ears.

  • Shock – Life-threatening shock makes blood vessels constrict. Ears become cold.

Any rabbit not eating for 6+ hours needs emergency vet care. Take the rabbit's temperature and check its gums for proper color. Get immediate treatment for suspected gastrointestinal stasis to restore normal food intake and ear temperature. With quick care, your rabbit should recover their appetite and circulation.

Causes Of Ileus In Rabbits

Ileus is a dangerous condition where the gastrointestinal tract slows down or stops working in rabbits. It is often referred to as GI stasis. Here are some potential causes:

  • Diet – Too little fiber, excess carbohydrates, lack of hay can disrupt normal motility.

  • Dehydration – Inadequate water intake thickens intestinal contents making them harder to move.

  • Dental problems – Pain from overgrown teeth or malocclusion prevents proper chewing and digestion.

  • Stress – External stressors like loud noise, disruption, or change in environment can stall the GI tract.

  • Pain – Abdominal discomfort from gas, bloating, excess cecotropes can inhibit digestion.

  • Foreign object – Ingested foreign material like carpet fibers, plastic, clothing can block the intestines.

  • Infection – Bacterial imbalances, parasites like coccidia irritate the gut lining.

  • Hypothermia – Low body temperature slows gut function.

  • Medications – Antibiotics, opioids, some sedatives impact gut motility.

  • Neurologic problems – Spinal injury, stroke or other nerve issues affect normal gut activity.

Ileus should be treated immediately to avoid life-threatening complications. Seek emergency veterinary care if your rabbit stops eating, has cold ears or seems in abdominal discomfort. Prompt intervention greatly improves recovery outlook.

Ileus Signs and Symptoms

Here are the most common signs of ileus, or gastrointestinal stasis, in rabbits:

  • Decreased or absent appetite – An early warning sign is rabbit not finishing meals.

  • Small, infrequent fecal droppings – Reduced motility means less waste is passed.

  • Cold ears and extremities – Blood circulation slows with stalled digestion.

  • Lethargy – Rabbit lacks energy and may sit hunched over.

  • Abdominal bloating – Gas and backed-up contents cause a swollen belly.

  • Abdominal discomfort – Bunny may act painful, grunt, grind teeth.

  • Palpable lump – You may feel a dense mass in the stomach indicating blockage.

  • Rapid breathing – Rabbit takes quick shallow breaths from pain.

  • Grinding teeth – Sign of gut discomfort.

  • Lying on side – Rabbit may try to alleviate abdominal pain this way.

Prompt veterinary care is essential for ileus. The condition can rapidly progress to cardiovascular and respiratory collapse. Aggressive treatment greatly improves recovery odds.


Caring for a rabbit with ileus at home involves the following steps before emergency veterinary treatment:

  • Withhold food – Do not feed solid foods which will back up in the intestines. Provide unlimited hay.

  • Hydration – Give water, diluted pediatric electrolytes, and fresh herbs with moisture like cilantro, parsley, basil.

  • Encourage movement – Gently walk the rabbit in a confined area. The motion can stimulate gut motility.

  • Abdominal massage – Apply gentle pressure and circular motions to the abdomen. This can provide comfort and help move gas out.

  • Warmth – Place heating pads under and around rabbit, being careful to avoid overheating.

  • Stress reduction – Keep environment quiet and calm. Handle rabbit gently and comfort with light stroking.

  • Transport preparation – Secure rabbit in a snug, padded, covered carrier to minimize stress en route to the vet.

  • Monitor closely – Check rabbit's symptoms and vital signs until emergency veterinary care is received. Look for breathing issues, cold extremities, or seizures.

Ileus requires constant veterinary monitoring, IV fluids, pain management, and gut motility drugs. Homecare aims to stabilize the rabbit until professional treatment is accessed.

Diagnosis and Treatment

Ileus, or GI stasis, is diagnosed based on clinical signs, physical exam, and imaging. Treatment involves:

  • Bloodwork – Checks for electrolyte imbalances and organ issues.

  • Abdominal palpation – Felt for areas of gas buildup, swelling, lumps.

  • Radiographs – Assess for intestinal obstructions, foreign material, gas patterns.

  • Ultrasound – Provides detailed evaluation of gut contents, motility, and organ structure.

  • Pain medication – Opiates like buprenorphine or butorphanol for discomfort.

  • IV fluids – Used to correct dehydration and electrolyte disturbances.

  • Prokinetics – Drugs like cisapride or metoclopramide to stimulate gut motility.

  • Appetite stimulants – Cyproheptadine or mirtazapine help promote food intake.

  • GI protectants – Sucralfate, misoprostol defend against ulceration.

  • Antibiotics – May be prescribed if infection present.

  • Surgery – Explore for obstructions, strictures, remove foreign material if seen on imaging.

With aggressive treatment most rabbits recover fully from ileus. But relapses are fairly common and require vigilance from owners on rabbit's diet and environment.

How to Prevent Loss of Appetite in Rabbits

Here are some tips to help prevent your rabbit from losing its appetite:

  • Provide unlimited grass hay – The fiber keeps the gut moving to stimulate hunger.

  • Give fresh vegetables daily – Leafy greens, carrots, apples offer variety to excite eating.

  • Schedule mealtimes – Predictable consistent feeding routines encourage rabbits to eat.

  • Make water freely available – Good hydration supports appetite and digestion. Add ice cubes in summer.

  • Use proper pellets – Select a quality timothy or alfalfa-based pellet. Oxbow and Sherwood are good brands.

  • Monitor teeth – Get regular dental checkups. Overgrown teeth impede eating.

  • Create a quiet peaceful environment – Reduce external stressors that can suppress appetite.

  • Give toys, activities – Prevent boredom by engaging natural foraging instincts.

  • Check for parasites – Have fecals tested periodically. Parasites irritate gut lining and reduce hunger signals.

  • Provide companionship – Bonded rabbits encourage each other to eat well.

  • Exercise rabbit daily – Light activity stimulates hunger in the same way it does in people.

Appetite loss is a serious warning sign in rabbits. Taking proactive steps ensures your rabbit maintains a healthy appetite long-term.


In summary, rabbits rely on their ears for temperature regulation, which is why they often feel cool or cold to the touch. This is perfectly normal. However, extremely cold ears accompanied by other symptoms like lethargy or appetite changes can indicate an underlying health issue that requires prompt veterinary attention. Knowing how to check your rabbit's temperature while keeping them calm and stress-free is an important skill for owners. With attentive care and early intervention, most rabbits can fully recover from conditions that cause loss of appetite and cold ears. Consistent monitoring and prevention helps safeguard your rabbit's health.



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