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When rabbits are bonded they form a very strong relationship. When that bond is broken through physical separation or death of one the partner I have heard that they can die from loneliness. The risk is considered so significant at my local shelter that a bonded pair has the same adoption fee as a single rabbit.

I have seen rabbits who have survived being separated and I have heard of otherwise healthy bunnies who died within a few days of losing their partner.

I am looking for answers that include outcomes from multiple broken bonds. Points to answer are:

  • Death a few days after partner, where it is reasonable to assume there was not a medical or poisoning related connection.
  • If the second death was the submissive or dominant bunny in the relationship (does one handle it better than the other?)
  • Any signs or symptoms immediately proceeding the second death, and how they differed from the first death
  • Treatments attempted to prevent death

Bonus points: Outcome of attempts to find a new partner for the living bunny.

Note. The scenario I have gathered from interacting with multiple house rabbit people, is: The living rabbit on the loss of it's partner will get depressed and stop or decrease eating for a couple of days then they die. Very experienced rabbit people will recognize this for the emergency it is and force feed if required. Second deaths are usually with in the first 3 to 10 days after the first. I have also seen rabbits that were clearly distressed by the loss who survived.

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+100

Stress can kill rabbits. When a rabbit is bonded to another rabbit and that rabbit dies or is removed it can cause stress on its bond mate(and itself). (Source) This stress could be enough to cause several problems that if not treated lead to death.

Many rabbits respond to stress in different ways.

  • Unexpected molt: Generally rabbits molt in early winter and again in early summer. But sometimes changing foods or too much of a certian food can also trigger molts (SOURCE)
  • Lethargy: An active rabbit suddenly stops playing or interacting. My only solution for this is to cuddle as much as the rabbit wants to, and try not to do anything to cause more stress in the rabbit
  • Not eating or Drinking: This is the most dangerous sign of stress. It only takes a few days for a healthy rabbit to pass when they stop eating and drinking. When I have a rabbit go off food I start forcing food and fluids by giving them ~ ,5cc/lb of plain yogurt and 1cc/lb of water with a syringe(no needle). This has not been 100% effective but I do credit it with saving several of my rabbits.

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3

I had a dominant young female and another submissive female. They lived for two years together and were inseparable.

Dominant female died very suddenly, so I got a rescue rabbit the next day to keep other one company. I kept them separate but in same garden to introduce them gradually. New one in cage and original running loose. Initially she seemed interested but attacked new one when introduced. I separated them and next day the initially submissive one became subdued, lost appetite and died 2 days later.

I'm devastated. Lost both my bunnies in 4 days.

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3

We had six rabbits that got mixed up accidentally and one had a litter. We separated them early on, and four girls were together for 5 months. We have too many to take care of well and just gave two of the females away.

One of the sisters left stopped eating and interacting. I tried putting one of our older girls (from first litter) in with her - she was grooming her and sitting with her. This morning, though, the little sister died. I'm devastated - this was only three days ago that we gave the others away, which is incredibly sad.

I read online that this could occur and I wish I had asked to bring her sisters back.

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