What Causes Your Rabbit’s Head Tilt?

What Causes Your Rabbit's Head Tilt?

Here we can see, “What Causes Your Rabbit’s Head Tilt?”

If your pet rabbit’s head tilts, it’s most likely due to an ear or brain problem. It can be difficult to pinpoint the exact source of the tilt. There are a few reasons why your rabbit’s head abruptly cocks to one side or the other, but regardless of the cause, you should take your rabbit to the veterinarian if you notice a head tilt.

Ear infections and E. cuniculi are two possible causes of a head tilt in your rabbit.

Other Signs and Symptoms to Watch

With other associated symptoms, it can be easy to figure out what’s causing the head tilt. Here are a few to keep an eye out for:

  • Loss of balance/falling over
  • Walking in circles or bumping into things
  • Flickering eye movements, uneven pupils, sinking of the eye(s)
  • Tremors
  • Drooping on one side of their face
Also See:  Rabbit Eye Problems

Possible Causes

Ear Infections Cause Rabbit Head Tilt

Ear infections can affect one or both ears of your rabbit. The infection can be caused by bacteria, yeast, or a combination of both, and it can cause rabbits to tilt their heads.

Your veterinarian will remove a sample of the material in your rabbit’s ear (which may or may not appear to be wax), smear it on a glass slide, stain it, and examine it under a microscope to see whether there is an infection. Ear infections in rabbits are frequently treated with topical treatments (ear drops).

The head tilt may persist even after the ear infection has been treated if the infection is severe or has gone untreated for a long time. Some head tilts may last a lifetime, but these rabbits will adjust to their new perspective on life and thrive.

Rabbit Head Tilt from an Abscess

Rabbits are prone to getting abscesses, which are localised infections. They can get them almost anywhere in or on their body, and if an abscess forms in the ear canal, it can result in a head tilt. Tooth abscesses, abscesses behind the eye, and abscesses beneath the skin near the ear can all exert pressure on the ear canal, causing your rabbit’s balance to be off and leading them to tilt their head. Depending on where it originated, antibiotics or surgery may be required to remove the abscess.

If your rabbit’s abscess is caused by a bad tooth, it will need to be pulled under an anaesthetic. Antibiotics may be used to treat the abscess, which may then be surgically opened and cleared out. Dealing with abscesses is a pain. They can be tough to eradicate, and no one likes giving their pets drugs.

Ear Mites Cause Rabbit Head Tilt

Ear mites are small parasitic insects that live in the ear canals of several animals. These arachnids are known to infest rabbits, and when ear mites feed on the ear wax in your rabbit’s ear, it can be quite loud, unpleasant, and irritating to your rabbit. In an attempt to relieve the pain and annoyance caused by the ear mites, your rabbit may tilt his head, shake his head, scratch his ear, or rub his head on the ground.

Also See:  How to Treat Rabbit Ileus, a Common Gastrointestinal Disorder

Ear mites are normally easy to get rid of, but make sure you choose a rabbit-safe treatment. If the improper medication is given to your rabbit, it could result in deafness, suffering, and even death. Your veterinarian can easily spot ear mites under a microscope, and the head tilt will usually go away once the infestation is cleared up.

Rabbit Head Tilt from E. Cuniculi

Encephalitozoon cuniculi, or E. cuniculi, is a life-threatening, debilitating disease that you don’t want to infect your rabbit with. It produces a variety of symptoms in rabbits, but the most common are head tilt and convulsions. What makes this sickness even more frustrating is that a completely healthy rabbit can suddenly develop indications of infection. Furthermore, there is no easy yes-or-no test that can definitively determine whether your rabbit is infected with E. cuniculi.

E. cuniculi can produce such a severe head tilt that rabbits will roll over and become unable to sit up. Because of the severity of the tilt, their heads may appear to be virtually upside down on their bodies. They can have trouble eating. Although medications can help manage the sickness, it is highly communicable among rabbits (and immune-compromised people), and there are no known therapies. This is a condition that is often found when other reasons for a tilted head have been ruled out.

To stabilise a rabbit with a severe E. cuniculi infection, lifelong medication and nursing care will be required.


A visit to the veterinarian should always be the first step in any treatment plan for any of the above. Many head tilts can be treated, such as if they are caused by an ear infection or ear mites. But because some can last for a long time, it’s important to talk to a vet before deciding on long-term medication.

User Questions

Why is my bunny slightly tilting his head?

A rabbit’s head tilt is usually caused by an issue with the ear or brain (where the balance centre sits). The two most common causes of a rabbit’s head tilt are inner ear infections and E. caniculi (a small parasite that causes swelling in the brain).

Can stress cause head tilt in rabbits?

The head of a rabbit can suddenly twist to one side and even touch the ground. The damaged side of the head’s eye could also droop and appear painful. It’s always clear that rabbits are confused by this situation, and they find it stressful to move their heads or be touched.

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Is head tilt in rabbits common?

A parasite called Encephalitozoon Cuniculi cuniculi is one of the most common causes of head tilt in pet rabbits. This organism is a single-celled intracellular protozoa that is usually spread by eating spores found in the urine of someone who has it.

What does a head tilt mean?

To convey that the person is engaged in what you’re saying, the head tilt is combined with eye contact, pointing, and smiling. A head tilt can also be used to express attention to what another person is saying. As you talk, the person may lean forward, which could mean they are interested or getting what you are saying.

What is floppy rabbit syndrome?

Floppy Rabbit Syndrome (FRS) is a neurological disorder characterised by an inability to hop around suddenly. Leg muscles, as well as the neck muscles, are weakened. FRS is still not well understood in rabbits, and studies are being done to find out what causes it.


I hope you found this helpful guide. If you have any questions or comments, don’t hesitate to use the form below.


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