Dealing with Rabbit Loss
For animals and humans alike, there is nothing sadder than the loss of one's long-time companion. Animals grieve in their own way, from the largest elephant to the smallest mouse. Whether it is a wild animal or a pet, all are deeply affected by death, something they don't understand, but they know their friend is no more.
Symptoms of Loss and What You Can Do
Rabbit owners report their grieving pet will stare off into the distance, lose his appetite and desire for play, sit in the corner and not come out. Folks often get worried to the point of calling their veterinarian, which is always a good idea. But for bunnies, there is a simple, perhaps silly-sounding thing you can do that WILL make a huge difference to your grieving rabbit: Get a stuffed rabbit, close in size, close in color, and do so immediately. If you can't find a rabbit, try something close in size and softness. There has been incredible success making a stuffed animal "appear" to come alive and groom, hop around after the grieving remaining bunny. It has cut down the lack of appetite to hours instead of days.
How to Introduce This Odd Creature
All you need to do is rub the "new" playmate over the fur of your remaining bunny. It may be necessary to distract him first by petting his head, so you can rub this playmate over him to transfer his scent to the toy friend. Then, little by little, have the toy bunny cuddle up next to your real one, groom him, and make the same-type motions the other one did as often as you can, even following him into the litter box. It is amazing the results this has had. You may find your toy bunny being licked for hours by the grieving bunny who, having no one else, somehow "thinks" this stuffed odd playmate has changed into his new friend.
Do this immediately after the mate has died. There is little value in stressing the healthy bunny out by taking him to the vet while one is put to sleep or seeing the deceased body of the bunny that has passed on. If it works for some, that is fine, but for most bunnies, it only seems to upset them more. Let this toy, stuffed bunny come to the rescue! You will be very surprised and will feel better knowing the remaining bunny is comforted and has gained a new "friend." Your job, though, is to daily continue to animate this odd creature in some of the same mannerisms your other bunny had, and of course, offer him your love that no one can match. Later on, perhaps, a new, "real" companion may be in his future.
A Final Note
Remember, it may take a few hours or days for your rabbit to get used to this stuffed rabbit, but it will help. He will know someone is there with him; he is not alone. In the meantime, our sorrow goes out to you for your loss. Please know your lost bunny is playing with many others in a much better place now.