Are Rabbit Noses Supposed to Be Wet?


To wonder if your pet’s nose should or should not be wet is an essential question for you to ask yourself. It could be completely normal for your animal to have a wet nose, or it could mean that your pet is in need of medical attention. So, for rabbits, we need to know why or why not their nose should be wet.

Your rabbit’s nose should be wet if your rabbit is trying to cool down or help themselves smell better. This is a natural response for a rabbit, but discharge or a runny nose can be a problem. Learning the behavior of your rabbit and why the rabbit’s nose gets wet will help you stay informed.

Let us talk a little bit about why your rabbit would have a wet nose and the potential dangers there can be.

What Causes A Wet Nose

For rabbits, it is very easy and common to have a wet nose. They will use their tongues to keep their nose wet whenever they are overheated. This is much like what dogs do to keep themselves cool, minus the panting.

They will also dip their noses into their water to keep their noses moist. Rabbits will do this to not only cool themselves down but also to improve their sense of smell. Rabbits rely heavily on their sense of smell to know what is in their surroundings. This being said, it can be essential for your rabbit’s nose to be wet.

Not all causes of a wet nose are good, however. A runny nose could be an indicator of future disease. Rabbits are subject to respiratory disease, which is a cause for concern.

With all this being said, knowing the difference between a wet nose, runny nose, and discharge is essential. This will help you be well informed and help you to be able to take care of your rabbit the best that you can.

Cooling Down

Being at the right body temperature is important for any form of life. If overheating occurs, it can be detrimental to your rabbit. Rabbits are very sensitive to heat and will overheat very easily.

The optimal temperature for your rabbit will be in the 65-72 degrees Fahrenheit range. Rabbits will overheat if their environment’s temperature is above 80 degrees Fahrenheit. Most living spaces will be able to get above 80 degrees somewhat frequently, so be mindful of your rabbit and be aware of the signs of overheating for a rabbit.

Signs that your rabbit is overheating include the following:

  • Fast, shallow breathing
  • Hot Ears
  • Wet Nose
  • Tossing back of the head while breathing rapidly from an open mouth.
  • Low Energy/Enthusiasm

With this information, you can see why it is essential for you to keep your rabbit in the best environment possible. Anything below 80 degrees Fahrenheit should be a good environment for your rabbit. Make being mindful of your rabbit’s environment one of your top priorities so that you don’t risk the chance of your rabbit overheating.

With the information stated above, it’s okay if a rabbit’s nose is wet if the rabbit trying to cool down.

Helping Their Smell Improve

A rabbit’s sense of smell is arguably their most important. Hearing and Sight are important as well, but their sense of smell helps keep them alive. We, as humans, rely mainly on what we see and hear, but with rabbits, it is a completely different story. They can see okay and hear well, but their sense of smell helps them know what is going on in the world around them.

Here are some reasons why their smell is so important:

  • Rabbits have good eyesight, but not perfect. Their vision is also tailored to acknowledge movement. They are far-sighted, so they will rely on their vision after hearing and smelling for potential danger, mainly because the rabbit will smell or hear the danger before seeing it.
  • Rabbits have excellent hearing. This means that your pet can regularly be startled by loud noises. They will sniff the air, and connect a scent with a sound. This will tell the rabbit if they need to be afraid or not.
  • Rabbits are innately curious and territorial. Your pet will always want to explore new, untapped terrain and claim it for themselves. Using their sense of smell, they’ll know if this is safe.
  • Baby rabbits are born with their eyes closed. Most baby rabbits do not open their eyes until they are ten days old. Until then, they rely on scent to find their mother’s teat and feed. Source

With this information, you can see why it would be important for your rabbit’s sense of smell to be constantly improving. Making it okay for a rabbit’s nose to be wet if they’re trying to improve their sense of smell.

Discharge Vs. Wet Nose

With discharge being wet, it would be easy to mistake it for a wet nose. An easy way to differentiate the two from each other would be to check if the stuff coming out of your rabbit’s nose has any thickness to it.

If it has any kind of thickness, it is discharge. When it is a little damp, it’s just a wet nose. The reason it is important to know the difference is that if it discharges, you need to take your rabbit to the vet ASAP. There could be an illness or sickness in your rabbit through its respiratory system.

Rabbits only breathe through their noses, so any kind of illness that would be surrounding the respiratory system is very serious and could result in death in just a matter of a couple of weeks.

Potential Illnesses

With the respiratory system being so important, it is important that you know the kind of illnesses that your rabbit could have. This being if they have discharge coming from their nose.

Snuffles

This infection is specific to rabbits. What it does, is that it will cause an infection in your rabbit’s eyes, ears, mouth, and lungs. This is why you would see discharge coming from your rabbit’s nose.

When your rabbit has snuffles, you need to isolate them from any other rabbit. Snuffles is a chronic illness, so it will spread to other rabbits and make them sick as well.

Snuffles will cause your rabbit to die if not treated with the proper care. Some symptoms of snuffles include the following:

  1. Runny Nose
  2. Nasal Discharge
  3. Head Tilt
  4. Skin Sores
  5. Wet/Mated Facial Fur
  6. Wet Paws

If your rabbit is showing these symptoms, there are remedies that you can use to help them, but for better care and in urgent situations, bringing your rabbit to the vet will ensure the best outcome possible.

Pneumonia

It can be scary to even think about your rabbit having pneumonia. Pneumonia in rabbits is caused by the inflammation of the lung parenchyma. The symptoms often include reduced appetite, sneezing or coughing, lethargy, and discharge from the nose and eyes.

These symptoms could mean anything, making it difficult to identify if your rabbit does have pneumonia. If these symptoms stretch over a couple of days take your rabbit to the vet.

Myxomatosis

This disease is caused by the myxoma virus, which is widely spread by the wild rabbit population. The virus is most commonly spread by bites from mosquitoes, flies, fur mites, and fleas. It can also be spread from contaminated thorns, thistles, and direct contact with wild rabbits.

Pet rabbits are more susceptible and more severely affected than wild rabbits. With wild rabbits having developed greater genetic resistance to the disease over time, with continuous exposure to the outside, which is where the disease is spread.

Symptoms include the development of puffy eyelids, purulent (pus-producing) conjunctivitis, and lethargy. Conjunctivitis can cause discharge from the nose or eyes. Death can be as early as 1-2 weeks, so keep a good eye out and take your rabbit to the vet as soon as possible.

Recap

For rabbits, it can be okay if their noses are wet. They could be trying to help themselves smell their environment a little bit better so that they know what is going on. They could also be trying to cool themselves down because they overheat very easily.

If there is any sort of thickness to the wetness that you feel on your rabbit’s nose, however, that is not a good sign. Discharge is a sign of an infection in the body which could mean that your rabbit is sick or has a risk of developing a potential illness.

When you discover the discharge, don’t go to the internet to see what you should do. Go straight to the vet and see how they can best help your rabbit. It could just be an infection that would need the basic antibiotics to fight it, but it could also be where your rabbit has a disease that could kill them in a matter of weeks.

So, if the nose of your rabbit is just damp, there is no need to take it to the vet. But if there is a thickness to the moisture around your rabbit’s nose, take your rabbit to the vet as soon as you can.

Laura Pierce

I'm the owner of RabbitInformer.com and I've loved rabbits since I got my first one as a pet at 8 years old. Today I spend much of my time researching rabbit habits, exotic varieties, and ideal living environments.

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