Rabbits show signs of old age just as human do. According to veterinarian Jeffrey Jenkins, the signs of ageing begin to appear in rabbits from five to six years old and usually include changes in behaviour and failing health. Recognising if your rabbit is suffering from old age requires noticing changes in its regular habits.
Older rabbits are usually more sedate and less energetic than younger rabbits. You may notice that your rabbit sleeps more and plays less. It may seem lethargic and move around more slowly than it used to. Also, if your rabbit was once very interactive, he may seem more withdrawn and antisocial.
Poor Eating Habits
Older rabbits may eat less, which leads to other health problems such as gastrointestinal stasis and overgrown teeth and weight loss. GI stasis is the reduction of activity in the digestive tract. Symptoms of this ailment include loss of appetite, small droppings and no droppings. Eating less food may also prevent your rabbit's teeth from wearing down sufficiently. If your rabbit's teeth become too long, it will have trouble eating any food and may develop sores inside its mouth due to spores developing on its molars.
Just like humans, some rabbits develop arthritis as they get older. Arthritis causes painful inflammation in the joints, which leads to restricted movement. Your rabbit may have trouble hopping up and down stairs or onto furniture, as well as getting into its litter box. You may also notice that your rabbit does not groom itself as much as usual. This may result from its inability to manoeuvre due to stiffness or pain.
Vision and Hearing Loss
An older rabbit may begin to lose its hearing and eyesight. It may bump into things or appear disoriented when moving around. It will often decrease its movements and stay in one area, rather than roaming as it usually would. If it has hearing loss, it may not respond to the sound of your voice or other loud sounds. You may also notice that it is not responsive to stimulation, such as when you approach it from behind or toss a toy in its direction.