Causes of Head tilt in rabbits


Differential diagnosis




Micka, a female rabbit suffering from head-tilt, before (left)

and after (right) treatment with fenbendazole and enrofloxacin.


Alicia Perrotti

Ringo, a rabbit sufffering from head-tilt is funded solely by the generosity of donors.

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One sided head tilt (torticollis, wry neck)


Bacterial causes

Pasteurellosis, leading to otitis media and interna (middle and inner ear infection).

Listeriosis, leading to otitis interna or media (middle and inner ear infection).


Fungal causes

Fungemia, e.g. Aspergillosis or Candida albicans meningitis.


Parasitic infestation

Cerebral parasitic worms, e.g. Nematodiasis or Baylisascaris procyonis. Accompanying signs are ataxia (loss of control of movement), circling and tremors.

E. cuniculi, although it is not known if this CNS parasite is directly responsible for head-tilt or is a side effect of some other health issue.



Heavy furred ears, as seen in rabbits belonging to the Angora or Belgian bearded breeds (photo below).

Torticollis secondary to trauma.











 Central nervous system (CNS)

Bacterial infection, leading to otitis media or interna (middle and inner ear).

Cerebrovascular accident, with rabbit moving in circles if at all. Eating and drinking habits are usually normal. It is the second cause of head-tilt after otitis interna in rabbits.

Trauma of the face of head, with brain damage.

Vestibular dysfunction

Cerebellar disease, with head tilt to the side of the lesion.

Lesions of the superior medullary velum, with palsy (paralysis) of the nerve.

Neoplasia (development of a tumor) or abscess in the neck, ear or brain.



Bilateral head tilt (torticollis, wry neck)


Viral causes

Herpes sp. viral infection is a suspected cause for bilateral head tilt in one rabbit.