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Heat exhaustion, also known as heat stroke, can occur when a rabbit is exposed to high temperatures, even for a short period of time.  Rabbits cannot cool themselves down by sweating, only by dilating the blood vessels in their ears, so are susceptible to overheating which can be fatal if left untreated.

Heat exhaustion can be caused by the rabbit being in direct sunlight, in a hot car or next to a direct heat source such as a radiator.


- rapid breathing or panting
- trembling or shaking
- rabbit lying stretched out

Prevention / Treatment

Move your rabbit to a cooler place immediately and offer some water at room temperature, not cold.  Place cool damp flannels across its ears, forehead and legs.

To avoid heat exhaustion, ensure that the hutch is in a shady position or put a blanket over it to provide shade.  For indoor rabbits, position the cage out of direct sunlight and away from radiators.  During very warm weather, freeze bottles of water and place them in the hutch or cage.  When travelling with your rabbit in hot weather, stop frequently to check its condition, offer it water and keep your car as cool as possible.