Tuesday, May 28, 2024

14 Reasons A Lionhead Rabbit Shakes (Complete Guide Included!)


Imagine walking to your rabbit to pamper and you find him trembling all of a sudden. I’ve encountered this a few times and panicked initially but the secret lies in finding the cause before taking the next step. If you’re a new rabbit owner, calm down! Let me help you with this subject as I apply my experiences in raising rabbits of varied breeds over a decade.

Lionhead rabbits can shake or shiver because of these reasons – cold temperature, happiness, anger, fear, stress, neurological disorder, pain, sleep, hiccups, heat stroke, ear mite, dental issues, GI stasis, toxins in food, and bacterial infection. Finding the cause is the first step to draft a prevention or a control plan for shakiness in your rabbit.

In this article, I’d be detailing on these topics:

  • Things to do when a lionhead rabbit is shivering
  • Different instances when a rabbit can shake
  • Solutions to control shakiness in lionhead rabbits

Let’s begin!


Reasons For Shakiness/Shivering In Lionhead Rabbits

There are umpteen reasons for a lionhead rabbit to shiver all of a sudden. Based on my experience, I’ve listed them one by one along with a solution that works (or has worked for me so far).

Cold Temperature

Lionhead rabbits are particularly sensitive to cold temperatures, as they lack an insulating layer of fat and fur. When the temperature drops below what is comfortable for them, a lionhead rabbit may start to shake or shiver as a reflexive reaction to try and warm itself up.

In addition, as these rabbits breed best in temperatures between 64-68 degrees Fahrenheit, it is important to keep their environment at an ideal temperature range in order to prevent extreme reactions such as shaking or shivering from occurring.


Lionhead rabbits will often shake or shiver when they are happy or excited. This behavior can be seen when a lionhead rabbit is given a treat or petting from its owner, for example. It is not completely understood why this behavior occurs in response to positive stimulus, though it is thought that this could be due to the release of endorphins that occur when they experience joy.


If a lionhead rabbit feels threatened or angry with another animal, either through aggression or fear, it may start to shake or shiver in response. While the exact reason for this reaction is unknown, it could be due to an adrenaline rush that helps the rabbit prepare itself for fight-or-flight situations.


A lionhead rabbit may start shaking or shivering if it becomes scared by something unexpected, like loud noises or sudden movements. Fear and stress can both cause physical reactions in animals, and shaking and shivering are one way a bunny might express its emotions in these situations. 

Lionhead rabbits
Lionhead rabbits

Neurological Disorder

A lionhead rabbit may also start shaking or shivering if it has underlying neurological issues such as epilepsy or metabolic disorders. Seizures can lead to spasms that cause rabbits to shake uncontrollably, and metabolic disorders can lead to tremors which cause the same type of reaction. 


Pain and discomfort from illnesses like infections and injuries can cause shakes and shivers in rabbits too.

This is the cause that needs your attention immediately because you can’t prolong it!


Lionhead rabbits will sometimes shake or shiver when they are in a deep sleep. This is due to their fast metabolism, meaning that their body temperature drops quickly when they become sedentary. They can also produce twitches, pawing, and tail flicks during sleep to help them stay warm.

It is important for owners to ensure that the lionhead’s environment stays at an appropriate temperature; otherwise, the rabbit may become chilled and start shivering more often than usual. 


Hiccups are common in rabbits and can cause them to shake or shiver. These hiccups occur because of spasms in the diaphragm and usually go away on their own after a few minutes. However, if the hiccups persist for longer than this time period then it may be best to take your rabbit to the vet for further investigation.

Heat Stroke

Heatstroke is a serious condition that can be fatal if left untreated, and lionhead rabbits are particularly sensitive to heatstroke due to their thick coats of fur. Symptoms include heavy panting, shaking or shivering, weakness, lethargy, increased heart rate, and reddening of the ears and face.

If you notice these signs, then it is important that you move your rabbit into a cool area with plenty of air circulation immediately, as heat stroke needs prompt veterinary attention. 

Ear Mites

Ear mites are parasites that inhabit the ear canal of rabbits and can cause irritation which can lead to shaking or shivering from discomfort. Symptoms include head shaking or tilting, scratching at the ears with paws, and redness inside the ear canal. Note that your lionhead rabbit can lose fur this way.

Flea in rabbit hay
Flea in rabbit hay

The best way to treat ear mites is by getting medication prescribed by your vet as soon as possible. I’d also recommend checking their environment and health of other rabbits/pets.

Dental Issues

Dental issues such as overgrown teeth or abscesses can cause pain which could lead to shaking or shivering in severe cases. Overgrown teeth, in particular, should not be ignored as they can cause serious health problems if left untreated; so it is important for owners of lionhead rabbits to keep a close eye on their pet’s teeth by checking them regularly for any abnormalities and taking them for regular dental check-ups at the vet if required. 

GI Stasis

Gastrointestinal stasis occurs when there is a slowing down or complete stoppage of food movement through the digestive system of animals, including rabbits such as lionheads.

Signs include lack of appetite, decreased fecal output (or constipation), abdominal bloating/pain/distention and even shaking/shivering from discomfort due to pain from gas build-up within the abdomen pulling on nerves and causing discomfort throughout the body resulting in response being physical tremors (aka shuddering).

GI stasis requires immediate veterinary care, so it’s important that owners recognize these signs quickly before it’s too late, as GI stasis has been known to be fatal without treatment being given promptly!  

Toxic Food

Many foods may seem safe enough, but they could actually contain toxins that could make your lionhead rabbit sick—sometimes even fatally sick—which would result in them shaking or shivering due to fever caused by a toxic reaction occurring inside their bodies upon consuming said food item(s).

Common foods like onions (contains sulfur compounds) & chocolate (contains caffeine & methylxanthines) should never be given as treats but yet many people still do not realize how much damage these organisms can do inside our beloved pets’ bodies!

So always avoid feeding potentially toxic food items & stick with healthy alternatives like hay & fresh vegetables instead!  

Aloe vera for rabbits
Aloe vera for rabbits

Bacterial Infection

Bacterial infections are another potential reason why lionhead rabbits may experience trembling or shivering symptoms due to certain bacteria releasing toxins into their bloodstream, which causes an elevated heart rate.

Don’t try any home remedy! You may need to take your lionhead rabbit to your vet.

Is It Normal For A Lionhead Rabbit To Be Shivering

It’s normal for a lionhead rabbit to shiver or shake from time to time, especially when they are cold. However, if the shaking and shivering persist for an extended period of time, then it can be a sign of an underlying health issue such as heatstroke, ear mites, dental issues, GI stasis, or toxic food.

If you notice your rabbit trembling and shivering, it is best to seek veterinary advice as soon as possible in order to rule out any potential health issues that may be causing the shaking.  It is also important to ensure that your lionhead rabbit has access to comfortable living conditions and a balanced diet.

What To Do When A Lionhead Rabbit Is Shivering

As soon as you see your lionhead rabbit trembling, you may panic just like how I reacted back then. However, there’s a solution to address the same, irrespective of the cause.

Before you head on to the solution, watch this YouTube video to understand what a shake should look like:

Here’s the standard checklist I follow if I feel any discomfort in my lionhead rabbit.

  • Check the Rabbit’s Environment – When a lionhead rabbit is shivering, the first thing to do is to check their environment. Look for any potential issues, such as temperature changes or excessive noise, that could be causing stress.
  • Observe the Rabbit’s Behavior – Observing a rabbit when it is shivering can provide valuable insight into what may be wrong. Pay attention to any other body language the rabbit might exhibit, such as trembling ears, drooping tail, and hunching posture. It could also be indicative of pain or illness.
  • Provide a Calm and Comfortable Environment – Once any environmental issues have been addressed, it is important to create a calm and comfortable atmosphere for the rabbit. Provide shelter from direct sunlight and extra warmth if needed. Make sure there are no sharp objects or surfaces that could injure them.
  • Provide a Healthy Diet – Make sure the rabbit has access to plenty of hay and fresh vegetables. A balanced diet will help keep them healthy and strong, which helps avoid potential health problems caused by stress and malnutrition.
  • Maintain Temperatures of the Environment – Keeping temperatures consistent in their environment helps ensure that the rabbit does not become too cold or hot, which can cause stress and illness. Aim for an ambient temperature range between 65°F-75°F (18°C-24°C).
  • Check For Fur Ball Ingestion – Lastly, make sure to check for fur ball ingestion as rabbits groom frequently and can sometimes swallow too much hair which then forms into clumps in their stomachs known as “fur balls” that can cause discomfort or even blockages requiring medical intervention.


Why Are My Rabbit’s Ears Shaking?

It is possible that your rabbit’s ears are shaking due to a reaction to their environment, such as sudden noises or changes in temperature. It could also be indicative of pain or illness, so it is important to make sure their environment is comfortable and safe.

Why Is My Rabbit Shaking And Breathing Fast?

If your rabbit is shaking and breathing fast, it could be a sign of a serious health problem.

Rapid breathing and shaking can be caused by a variety of conditions, including stress, fear, pain, infection, or injury. It could also be a sign of a respiratory infection, such as pneumonia, which can be caused by a variety of factors, including exposure to cold temperatures, poor nutrition, or exposure to bacteria or viruses.

Why Do Rabbits Shake When You Hold Them?

It is possible that rabbits shake when you hold them due to stress or fear. Ensure that you hold them rightly and eliminate hard touch or exposure to noisy sounds.

Also, check if you’re carrying your rabbit properly. Most beginners hold them wrongly elevating fear, pain, and stress in rabbits.

Why Is My Rabbit Shaking And Laying Down?

It is possible that your rabbit is shaking and lying down due to distress or illness. Sudden changes in their environment can cause them to become stressed.

It’s recommended to check the environment, your rabbit’s appetite level, and past health history before taking a call about the situation.

Why Does My Rabbit Shake Like A Dog?

A rabbit shaking like a dog could be a sign of a neurological disorder, such as head tremors, which is caused by abnormal activity in the brain. It can also be caused by an injury or trauma to the head or neck, or by an underlying health condition such as a brain tumor, infection, or inflammation.

This is another situation when you shouldn’t prolong for the symptom to worsen. It’s essential to take your rabbit to a vet immediately.

Do Rabbits Shiver When Cold?

It is possible that rabbits may shiver when cold. Like humans, their bodies are designed to conserve heat and will try to stay warm when exposed to colder temperatures. If your rabbit is shivering in the cold, make sure they have a warm and comfortable place to nest, and consider getting them a special coat or vest for extra warmth.

Why Do Rabbits Shake Their Head?

Rabbits may shake their head for a variety of reasons, such as to clean their ears, rid themselves of pests or mites, or show irritation. If your rabbit continues to shake their head excessively and displays signs of discomfort, make sure that they’re free from external parasites and consult with a veterinarian if the behavior persists.

Analyze your rabbit’s complete body to check if there are mites or other topical infections. Sometimes, fungal infections can extend to different parts of the body.

Related Posts:

Are lionhead rabbits nocturnal?

Are lionhead rabbits hypoallergenic?

Are lionhead rabbits cuddly?

Do lionhead rabbits bite?

Sowmya Sankaran
Sowmya Sankaran
Sowmya Sankaran is crazy about animals and birds! An avid rescuer and rehabilitator of animals and birds, she uses PETSMOND to share her experiences in raising different creatures and paying attention to intricate aspects of their health. Know more about me - https://petsmond.com/about/

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