Can bonded rabbits die of loneliness?
When rabbits are bonded they form a very strong relationship. When that bond is broken through physical separation or death of one the partner I have heard that they can die from loneliness. The risk is considered so significant at my local shelter that a bonded pair has the same adoption fee as a single rabbit.
I have seen rabbits who have survived being separated and I have heard of otherwise healthy bunnies who died within a few days of losing their partner.
I am looking for answers that include outcomes from multiple broken bonds. Points to answer are:
- Death a few days after partner, where it is reasonable to assume there was not a medical or poisoning related connection.
- If the second death was the submissive or dominant bunny in the relationship (does one handle it better than the other?)
- Any signs or symptoms immediately proceeding the second death, and how they differed from the first death
- Treatments attempted to prevent death
Bonus points: Outcome of attempts to find a new partner for the living bunny.
Note. The scenario I have gathered from interacting with multiple house rabbit people, is: The living rabbit on the loss of it's partner will get depressed and stop or decrease eating for a couple of days then they die. Very experienced rabbit people will recognize this for the emergency it is and force feed if required. Second deaths are usually with in the first 3 to 10 days after the first. I have also seen rabbits that were clearly distressed by the loss who survived.
Stress can kill rabbits. When a rabbit is bonded to another rabbit and that rabbit dies or is removed it can cause stress on its bond mate(and itself). (Source) This stress could be enough to cause several problems that if not treated lead to death.
Many rabbits respond to stress in different ways.
- Unexpected molt: Generally rabbits molt in early winter and again in early summer. But sometimes changing foods or too much of a certian food can also trigger molts (SOURCE)
- Lethargy: An active rabbit suddenly stops playing or interacting. My only solution for this is to cuddle as much as the rabbit wants to, and try not to do anything to cause more stress in the rabbit
- Not eating or Drinking: This is the most dangerous sign of stress. It only takes a few days for a healthy rabbit to pass when they stop eating and drinking. When I have a rabbit go off food I start forcing food and fluids by giving them ~ ,5cc/lb of plain yogurt and 1cc/lb of water with a syringe(no needle). This has not been 100% effective but I do credit it with saving several of my rabbits.
Downvoted for reverting the edit that added metric units and corrected ambiguous notation according to medical convention for avoiding ambiguity in prescription formulas, more precisely the convention of **always** using zero prefix decimals to avoid ambiguity (which tells to always use, for example, 0.1 instead of .1 to avoid misinterpretation of .1 as 1).