Seizures and their various causes



True seizures are rare in rabbits. When observed, they show a swift onset and last a few minutes. Recovery is generally complete. In rare cases, seizures leave the rabbit in a comatose state or can be accompanied by blindness. Seizure-like behavior is often related to intense pain, with the rabbit throwing itself on its side; eyes rolling in their socket.

Idiopathic epilepsy has been observed in white furred, blue-eyed rabbits.


The cause of the seizure must be determined, before starting medication. The treatment of seizures in rabbits is commonly attempted with diazepam or midazolam, and short-term administration of glucocorticoids, in order to reduce the inflammation. In some cases, antiepileptic drugs are administrated to rabbits; unfortunately, their efficiency decreases with time.


Rabbit going through a seizure episode, after sudden throwing on its side.



Differential diagnosis for seizure in rabbits



Viral infection

Herpes simplex virus (HSV) related encephalitis

Viral Hemorrhagic Disease (VHD), terminal stage


Parasitic infestation

Presence of burrowing (rodent) mites

Encephalitozoon cuniculi in the brain, accompanied by an inflammatory response of brain cells


Presence of the parasite Baylisascaris procyonis


Central nervous system (CNS)

Trauma or disease of the CNS or head

Cerebrovascular disorder, after e.g. head trauma

Pasteurella multocida related encephalitis or otitis interna



Organ failure

Renal failure



Systemic causes

Gastro-intestinal stasis, accompanied by severe pain

Terminal hepatic lipidosis and ketosis

Azotemia (excess of nitrogen in the blood), eventually accompanied by renal failure

Hyper- or hypoglycemia

Hyper- or hypocalcemia

Hyper- or hyponatremia

Magnesium deficiency

Cardiac disease

Gestation toxemia


“Mechanical” causes

Arteriosclerosis and mineralization of main blood vessels

Mineralization of the brain blood vessels/arteriosclerosis

Tumor, neoplasia, abscess, or lesion that invades a sensitive part of brain tissue, or the nervous system

Surface irritation, e.g. rubbing fur, piece of hay trapped in anal gland

Agonal phenomenon



Administration of high dosages of antibiotics, like quinolones (e.g. Baytril), penicillins




Toxic plants