Why Does My Rabbit Have a Droopy Ear?

A droopy ear in rabbits occurs due to different causes, the most common being otitis. This is a problem that needs to be dealt with.
Why Does My Rabbit Have a Droopy Ear?

Last update: 08 November, 2021

One of the physical characteristics that stand out and attract us about rabbits are their large ears. Most tend to have them upright, however, for certain reasons one or both can be lowered. In these cases, it’s important to know the reason for droopy ear in rabbits.

Any of the causes of this condition requires veterinary attention and treatment. If not taken seriously, the seriousness of the problem will go far beyond a physical problem such as the lowered ear. Read on to learn more about the topic.

Symptoms of a sick rabbit

To confirm any type of disease in a pet, a veterinary professional will need to examine it and perform the pertinent tests. However, in rabbits, there are certain symptoms of illness or discomfort that may indicate to owners that something isn’t quite right with their health. Some are as follows:

  • Lack of appetite: If the animal doesn’t eat as much as it used to (or directly stops eating), it could be experiencing pain or illness.
  • Alterations in respiratory rhythm: Another symptom of a sick rabbit is when it’s difficult for it to breathe normally or that it begins to hyperventilate (breathe very quickly).
  • Abnormal temperature: Such as fever or hypothermia.
  • Droopy ear in rabbits: A lowered ear in this animal (or both) is a sign of disease.
  • Lack of movement and dynamism: If the pet is sick, its energy levels will drop and it will appear very lethargic.
  • Lack of control in defecation: Both constipation and diarrhea are signs of imbalance in the animal’s body.
  • Skin abnormalities: Wounds, lumps, bruises, scratches or eczema are some of them.
  • Red eyes: With possible tearing and production of purulent secretions.
  • It doesn’t use its legs: Another symptom that indicates that a rabbit isn’t well is when it avoids supporting one or more of its legs on the ground.

Because droopy ear in rabbits is one of the signs that point to an illness in the animal, it’s necessary to get to know the possible causes of this problem. We’ll look at them in detail below.

The drooping ear in rabbits can have many causes.

Causes of droopy ear in rabbits

If a rabbit has a droopy ear, there isn’t just one reason why this may have happened and it’s important to go to a veterinary clinic. The professional will determine which of these is the cause:

  1. Ringworm: As experts say, ringworm is among the most common diseases of rabbits. It’s a pathology caused by a fungus known as Trichophyton mentagrophytes, which is more frequent as a cause of disease in its granulated variety. This condition affects the animal’s ear health, and you’ll need antifungals to treat it.
  2. Otitis: This is an ear infection and is usually the most common reason for droopy ear in rabbits.
  3. Shope sarcoma: The Shope papillomavirus causes the appearance of nodules between the layers of the dermis, with skin on the extremities and ears being particularly affected.

Other causes of droopy ear in rabbits

In addition to the aforementioned pathologies, which are usually among the most common causes of a droopy ear in a rabbit, there are other possibilities. These occur due to this area being a particularly sensitive area in rabbits. This can be caused by the following:

  • A blow or trauma
  • Mishandling of the animal
  • Involuntary jerks

All these can cause a fiber injury or a skin wound that causes damage and pain to the rabbit, which will prevent it from raising one or both of its ears. As you can imagine, this is also a reason to visit the vet in all cases.

Types of otitis in rabbits

Because otitis is one of the most common causes of droopy ear in rabbits, it’s a good idea to learn more about this disease. To do this, the first thing you need to know is that almost any infection originating in the ear canal is often called “otitis”. It’s important to establish its most common causes and we’ll show you below.

Bacterial infections

Many different bacteria can cause infections in a rabbit’s ears, but among them Pasteurella multocida stands out. It also usually affects other areas of the animal, such as the pharynx and nose.

Fungi in rabbits

Keeping these animals’ ears dry and clean will prevent fungus from growing in them. Humidity and warm temperatures favor their appearance, so special care must be taken in the rainy season or when the heat arrives.

Mites in the ears of rabbits

Other causes of otitis (and, therefore, of droopy ear in rabbits) are mites. The most common is the so-called Psoroptes cuniculi. It infects the inside of the ears, causing a brown discharge that hardens and gives rise to a scab.

This scab will cause discomfort in the rabbit, which will scratch to relieve it and will injure itself in the process. To treat its effects, specific parasiticides for animals are usually used.

Foreign body infections

Such large, prominent ears can act as receptors for small foreign bodies, such as leaves or pieces of branches. Cleaning the rabbit’s ear cavities frequently will allow you to check inside them and remove them.

When something gets into the ears and isn’t removed, the area becomes inflamed. In addition, the animal will suffer from itching, pain, and a lot of discomfort.

Allergies in rabbits

Food or environmental allergies can also cause otitis and the drooping of one or both of the rabbit’s ears. Normally, in the case of allergies, the symptoms will also appear in other parts of the animal’s body.

Signs that should be taken into account when faced with a droopy ear

On observing that a rabbit has a droopy ear then you should immediately start to seek to help them. However, this characteristic isn’t the only one that occurs and there are other important symptoms to consider:

  • Reddened ears
  • Head shaking
  • Continuous scratching
  • Trembling ears
  • Lack of appetite
  • Ear secretions
  • A tilted head
  • A loss of balance and lack of coordination (ataxia).

All these clinical signs indicate the need to see a veterinarian urgently. Rabbits are quite fragile beings, so don’t waste any time if you notice any of them in your pet.

A white rabbit at the vet.

It’s normal for any owner to worry if they notice that their rabbit has a droopy ear, but the important thing is to know how to react in time. If your pet has this symptom, go to a veterinary center specialized in exotic animals so that it can be seen to as soon as possible.

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