Can Rabbits Die From Lack of Exercise?

Categorized as Bunny Health

Last Updated on March 9, 2023 by Marjon Ramos

While lack of exercise itself would not cause a rabbit to die. The effects of not exercising, like obesity, can lead to more dangerous diseases that could lead to death.

Obesity can put your rabbit at an increased risk of pregnancy toxemia, which can kill a rabbit 1-2 days before giving birth.

Also, obesity can lead to hepatic lipidosis that can result in liver failure and death.

Now that I’ve given you the gist of the article, read on as I explain in more detail why a rabbit could die from a lack of exercise:

How can rabbits die from a lack of exercise?

A white rabbit that's inside a small cage, its head is sticking out indicating that its bored and lacks exercise.

Rabbits would likely not die from not exercising by themselves.

But just like us humans, lack of exercise can lead to all kinds of health problems like obesity.

This in turn can lead to more serious health problems like:

  • Hepatic lipidosis
  • Arthritis
  • Uneaten cecotropes
  • Pregnancy toxemia

As an example, a rabbit that’s not exercising can develop obesity, which in turn can lead to hepatic lipidosis, or fatty liver disease.

Fatty liver disease is the accumulation of fat in the liver.

Without treatment, the liver can fail, resulting in death.

Here are the signs that your rabbits might be suffering from hepatic lipidosis:

  • Loss of appetite (anorexia) – may be sudden or gradual.
  • Weight loss
  • Decline in number and size of droppings (feces)
  • Dehydration
  • Depression and lethargy

Also, pregnancy toxemia caused by obesity due to lack of exercise can kill a rabbit.

Pregnancy toxemia, also known as ketosis, is a condition that affects pregnant rabbits.

Pregnancy toxemia happens when a pregnant doe (female rabbit) is not meeting its required elevated dietary intake.

Without meeting their required dietary intake, the rabbit’s body starts to use excessive amounts of fat to compensate.

This would then result in the build-up of ketones in your rabbit’s blood.

While any rabbit can develop pregnancy toxemia, obese rabbits are more at risk.

Here are the symptoms of pregnancy toxemia in rabbits:

  • Sudden death
  • Lethargy
  • Seizures
  • Abortion
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Not eating (anorexia)
  • Weakness

What happens if rabbits don’t get enough exercise?

Rabbits that are not exercising will develop health problems like:

  • Obesity. Rabbits that are not exercising and being fed the wrong diet can develop obesity. Obesity in rabbits can lead to more serious conditions like hepatic lipidosis and pregnancy toxaemia.
  • Sore hocks. Sore hocks is a condition where the underside of your rabbit’s feet becomes inflamed. It’s usually caused by damp flooring and obesity. Lack of exercise is linked to sore hocks because obese rabbits are often unable to eat their cecotropes, which can make your rabbit’s cage floor damp. Obesity would also lead to more footpad wear due to excess weight. This is a serious condition that should be treated immediately because it can get infected or bleed a lot if it’s severe.
  • Behavioral problems. Lack of exercise can also lead to behavioral problems like aggression, depression, excessive grooming, and being destructive like chewing on cage bars. Confining rabbits to small cages without regular exercise can lead to boredom, which can lead to the behavioral problems mentioned.
  • Underdeveloped muscles. Just like us humans, rabbits that lack exercise will have underdeveloped weak muscles, and that includes the heart muscle. Rabbits that lack exercise are more prone to cardiac arrest induced by fright or other stressful situations due to weaker heart muscles.
  • Osteoporosis. It’s also possible for rabbits who lack exercise to develop osteoporosis, or the thinning of the bone. This condition can lead to bone breakage.

How to tell if your rabbit lacks exercise?

A white rabbit confined in a small cage that's not getting exercise.

You can tell that your rabbit lacks exercise if they’re exhibiting behavioral changes like:

  • Aggression
  • Nervousness
  • Over-grooming or not grooming
  • Lack of appetite
  • Lethargy.

Physical changes like increased weight can also be an indication that your rabbit lacks exercise.

A regular visit to a veterinarian would make this easier to track. Veterinarians would often track your rabbit’s weight every visit.

How long can a rabbit survive before dying of a lack of exercise?

That would depend on what type of disease or condition your rabbit would develop due to a lack of exercise.

For example, if your rabbit became obese due to a lack of exercise and became pregnant, your rabbit would be at an increased risk of developing pregnancy toxemia. Which in turn can kill a rabbit 1-2 days before giving birth.

How to prevent your rabbit from dying from a lack of exercise?

The best thing to do to prevent your rabbit from dying due to the effects of lack of exercise is to give it regular exercise every day.

Letting your rabbit free roam around your house is also a great option to provide your rabbit with the exercise it needs.

But if that’s not an option, letting your rabbit play in the park for a few hours every day would likely do the trick.

Here’s a great video that shows how you can give your rabbit enough exercise:

When should you bring your rabbit to a veterinarian to prevent it from dying from a lack of exercise?

You should take your rabbit to a veterinarian if they are pregnant or exhibiting behavioral changes due to being confined in small cages all day.

Pregnant rabbits that are obese are at risk of pregnancy toxemia.

This should be monitored closely by a veterinarian because it could be a rapid onset, meaning your rabbits could quickly die.


A rabbit that’s not exercising can become obese. This in turn could lead to more serious and potentially life-threatening conditions like hepatic lipidosis (fatty liver disease) and pregnancy toxemia.

Cite this article:

Bunny Horde (February 22, 2024) Can Rabbits Die From Lack of Exercise?. Retrieved from
"Can Rabbits Die From Lack of Exercise?." Bunny Horde - February 22, 2024,

Read our latest posts

By Marjon Ramos

I’ve loved and cared for rabbits since I was 9 years old, and I’m here to share my passion for rabbits. My objective is to help rabbit owners give their rabbits the best life possible.