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My rabbit just died but she leaves behind a bonded sister of 7 years. The rabbit who died has always been interested and friendly with us but her sister has always been very tentative and shy with people. I understand that it is recommended to bring the rabbit's dead body home from the vet to let the other rabbit get closure, but unfortunately this is not an option.

How can I help my rabbit cope with the passing of her sister and recognize symptoms of depression? I feel like showering her with attention is not something she will necessarily enjoy. I could give her extra treats, but that doesn't seems like a great idea either. Should I make changes to her environment perhaps? She has free run of the house currently. Getting a new rabbit to bond with is not an option.

I know this is not an easy question, so thank you deeply for any suggestions.

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Rabbits can die of loneliness when their bond mate dies. Rabbits are extremely dependent on digestion for survival. Rabbits that don't eat for 24 hours tend to die. 12 Hours without eating is a medical emergency.

Much like us, when a loved one dies, you get sad and maybe you don't feel like eating. If your rabbit does not eat, it is really bad. See Can bonded rabbits die of loneliness? Also the question What should be in a rabbit first aid kit? has some hints on what to have on hand.

So what do you do? Obviously monitor her diet, very closely. If she is not eating figure out how to get food in her stomach.

Everybunny has a different personality, your remaining bunny is not a people person. You are correct that forcing her to cuddle with you is not going to help. But do make yourself available, lay on the floor near her, sit down next to her while she is eating. Just be there for her. You may find she now has more interest in getting pets from you (or not). But making yourself available to her, will help. Bunnies often just lay near each other, sometimes touching some times not, but just being near is enough.

The first couple of days through the first couple of weeks are the highest risk. If you can keep food going in her for the first couple of weeks you should be OK. You always want to monitor intake, but after two weeks you should past the worst risk. Everbunny I know of dying from a loss, passed in the first week to 10 days, and was not with someone who monitored their food intake.

  • This is great advice – thank you. I like the idea of laying on the floor and making myself available. I am also reassured by your comment that every bunny you know who has died as a result of depression was due to poor monitoring of food intake. – Blake Frederick Jun 10 '16 at 5:48

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