I have heard a lot about head tilt in rabbits. What causes head tilt? What are the treatments and/or prognosis?


2 Answers 2


As far is I found the possible causes are:

  • Middle/inner ear infection (otitis media /interna) - treated with anitbiotics - success not sure
  • Stroke (cerebrovascular accidents) - lots of care needed - acupuncture maybe helpful
  • Trauma - can be treated with anti-inflammatory - succesful if trauma not severe
  • Cancer (neoplasia) - did not find much, but it's cancer
  • Cervical muscle contraction - only temporary
  • Encephalitozoonosis - parasite - treatment not mentioned
  • Cerebral larva migrans - no known cure
  • Intoxication - depending on the toxin, vet needs to decide
  • an abscess - needs to be removed with surgery
  • Meningitis

The treatments do depend on the cause (Read more). But

While many cases of head tilt can be successfully treated, others cannot.[...]Regardless of the cause, sometimes a rabbit who survives will be left with a slight head tilt for the rest of his life.



One reason could be the daily drinking from water bottles and so caused habituation to a false head position:

Studies have shown that a rabbit with access to both a water bowl and a water bottle will prefer the bowl. It’s much easier to drink out of, because the water doesn’t come out one drop at a time. Also, a bottle forces the rabbit to tilt the head up in an unnatural position, making it highly uncomfortable. Even though nothing can fall into a bottle and soil the water, it is much more difficult to clean, so bacteria and algae will often develop and soil any fresh water that gets added immediately.


Edit: It is not a chief cause, nor the single cause for head tilt. But I think it could be the most common and one that could be easy avoided.

  • 1
    Your source and your conclusion have nothing in common. While I am not a fan of water bottles, there is zero chance that turning your head to drink is going to cause your head to get stuck in a turned posistinl Everyone lifts their feet to walk, when was the last time you saw someone with one foot stuck in the air? Jun 11, 2019 at 12:23
  • If you walk with not fitting footwear you can earn a postural deformity too... Walking is a normal movement for humans, drink with the head up is for birds, not for rabbits. I do not say, it is the chief cause, or that I have all causes in my answer, but it was the first cause in my mind and a widespread too. Jun 12, 2019 at 5:32

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