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Forum HOUSE RABBIT Q & A Possible visually impaired rabbit?

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    • Reesebun
      Participant
      1034 posts Send Private Message

      I’ve had Leo, my lionhead rabbit, for around 5 years. I adopted him when he was over a year old, so he is over 6 years old now. I’ve had suspicions that he might be visually impaired for a long time but haven’t really thought much of it since he was doing well getting around. But I have been thinking more about it and want to see what other people think about it, if he is visually impaired or not, and is there anything I should do for him if he is? (I always make sure to cut the fur around his eyes since he is a lionhead but it doesn’t seem to make a difference, and his eyes also look completely healthy.)

      Some evidence I have of this is that he sticks his ears out and bobs his head a whenever he is placed in a new position, even if it is just a different place on the floor. This is something Vinny (his brother, mix breed) does occasionally, but usually only when he is on a ledge or something and being cautious before jumping off. Leo also moves extremely cautiously, taking steps at a time even when just walking across bare carpet. Seemingly overly cautious. This might be normal for bunnies, maybe he just seems different compared to Vinny who is very adventurous and will just hop around anywhere lol.

      Another thing that happens is that he can’t really see where open doors are if the opening is not right against the ground. They have one of those starter cages with the purple plastic bottom that they have to be in sometimes when their cage is being cleaned or they can’t be in their big cage for some reason. If I open the door to it, vinny will jump right out. If I don’t take leo out and just leave the door open, he can’t figure out how to get out for a while. He knows Vinny is out of the cage, and he will stretch up and put his paws against different sections of the wire walls until his paws fall through the open part.

      His other big cage is custom built and has 3 removable levels that they can jump up on. For the first couple months, Leo stayed completely on the floor level. Vinny knew to jump up on the different levels within the first couple days. Eventually, leo learned that he could get up there, but he kind of does it a weird way compared to vinny. Vinny just jumps onto the next level, but Leo will kind of jump against the wall to get there. And he can jump as high as the level, he jumps to a spot on the wall higher than the level itself. But one time I just wanted to clean the higher levels and took them off, and Leo still tried to jump up onto a level that wasn’t there, and he jumped against the wall and flipped around a bit and fell. He wasn’t hurt, thankfully. Now I make sure to take them out of the cage when the levels are removed.

      Leo also hardly ever wants to leave his cage, during their time to run around he’ll just chill and lay in his cage. When I set him outside of the cage to clean it, he will try however he can to get back into the cage unless I place him in a different part of the room. Very rarely he will leave on his own and explore a bit. He will eventually do little popcorn binkies after he explores a section of the room well enough, but it is hardly ever compared to Vinny who is zooming and doing big binkies all over the place.

      I’m not sure if Leo and Vinny just have very different personalities and Leo can see just fine, or if Leo might have some visual impairment. I’m also not sure if rabbits can be visually impaired without their eyes looking any different, because everything I am seeing online says that something should look different with the eyes and they should be taken to the vet. But Leo is doing perfectly fine how he is, and has been doing well since I got him, I just wanted to see what other people thought about it. So if you would like to, please let me know what your opinion is! And if there is anything that I should do to help him if you guys think he might not be seeing very well.


    • GlennTheLionhead
      Participant
      246 posts Send Private Message

      Hey!

      Your pair sounds very similar to mine.

      I recently adopted a partially sighted bun, her eyes look completely normal so I think it depends on the type of blindness. Is Leo white by any chance? White bunnies are more susceptible to vision problems due to the way their eyes take in the light.

      His behaviour could be the behaviour of a very shy bun, especially the head bobbing but also its seem on the extreme side if its just shyness and his behaviour sounds very similar to my visually impared bun. Our Bella will also ‘jump’ if you approach her very quietly and touch her.

      Another way to tell is if your bunny ‘scans’ our Bella will constantly gently rock her head side to side to scan and observe her environment as its harder for her to see her surroundings. Do you notice that in Leo?

      I have mentioned to a couple vets that she’s blind and the rescue told me she was and no one has ever suggested there is anything I can do. What I’ve learn on my own is to gently vocally make the aware you are around and coax them to follow you voice into different rooms with lots of encouragement. If it is just blindness i would assume that with time he should learn his surroundings and become more confident.

      Another thing to consider is something like arthritis. Not to scare you but just to be informative, this can cause bunnies to move less and slowly. Like I say his behaviour is very similar to Bellas and at first I thought her lack of movement was behavioural and just blindness but we are now actually working with the vets to identify a chronic issue which I suspect is arthritis based on symptoms… like I say, not trying to worry you but it is definitely good to consider everything, especially if he’s reluctant to jump so much.

       

       


    • DanaNM
      Moderator
      7441 posts Send Private Message

      It sounds like he could be. My Bun Jovi is a REW and tends to “scan” and bobble his head a bit when he is checking out an area too. Most rabbits that are blind get by pretty well without much modification, because they also “see” with their other senses (whiskers, smell, hearing, etc).

      I wonder if adding some ramps (with edges so he doesn’t fall off) might help him explore the levels more confidently?  I’ve also had buns that definitely can see do that thing where they jump to a level that isn’t there when cleaning. All buns have a blindspot right in front of their faces, so they don’t really use their vision to navigate their “burrows” much anyway.

      Adding tunnels and rugs of different textures around the room might also help him feel more confident exploring. I know when you have a blind cat or dog, it’s best not to rearrange furniture because they will create a map of the house in their mind, so being aware of that might also help.

      If you do notice a big change in his activity levels, a vet check up might be a good idea as Glenn mentioned. At his age arthritis can start to show up.

      . . . The answers provided in this discussion are for general guideline purposes only. The information is not intended to diagnose or treat your pet. Seek the advice of your veterinarian or a qualified behaviorist.  

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Forum HOUSE RABBIT Q & A Possible visually impaired rabbit?