How to Take a Pet Rabbit's Temperature

Learn how to take a pet rabbit's temperature in this Howcast video featuring bunny lover Amy Sedaris and rabbit expert Mary E. Cotter.

Mary: Now, we’re going to do how to take a bunny’s temperature which is a really great skill to learn at home because rabbits typically will have their temperatures elevated when they’re stressed like, from a car ride on the way to the vets office. If you can let the vet know what the temperature was at home, that’s really useful information so it won’t be artificially elevated just because of the stress of the car ride. What you want to do when you take the temperature is position the bunny on a towel, hind quarters on the towel and have a little Vaseline. This is a canister of Vaseline and . . .

Amy: Now, can I use KY Jelly if I have that at home?

Mary: If you have it home and nothing else you can use it, but the Vaseline for me is preferable because KY Jelly will fall off the end of the thermometer. I can lube up this thermometer with Vaseline . . .

Amy: So, it needs to be straight up Vaseline?

Mary: It’s more useful.

Amy: Crisco? Just Vaseline, okay.

Mary: Never tried Crisco. So, we’ll put this down here and let it rest there.

Amy: Okay.

Mary: I’m going to stand the bunny on her hind legs and I am going to gently move her hind quarters out from under her like this.

Amy: What if you don’t have a table that’s high? You can do it in your lap or something, right? . . . [SP] . . .

Mary: You can do it sitting on a chair in your lap and we will change the angle here a little bit.

Amy: Now, I see two holes.

Mary: With a female rabbit and I’ve put a little lubricant on in advance. As you can see with a female rabbit, you have the vagina . . .

Amy: Sure.

Mary: . . . that’s here and that’s the easier opening to see. I’m going to evert [SP] it a little bit. If you press around it you’ll see it opening. Just south of that or in medical speak, just caudle [SP] to that. You will see a little dark slit there and that is where the thermometer goes. You’re going to gently lube around the area first and then slide the thermometer in very easily. Push the on button.

Amy: How do you know you’ve gone too far?

Mary: It sort of stops. I put it in so that the silver tip is covered and just a little on the plastic past the silver tip.

Amy: Okay.

Mary: I don’t attempt to put it in farther than that. If you get a very, very low temperature like, when I’m teaching owners to do this and the temperature they report has 92 or 93, that’s probably a thermometer that’s not in all the way. So, I tell them to do it three times in a row at home and they will get a valid reading by the third time.

Amy: Okay.

Mary: Most bunnies will sit perfectly still for this. If it’s the first time you’re doing it, the bunny may struggle a little bit because they don’t know what’s going to happen not because it hurts but just they don’t know what’s going to happen and they move around. Just reposition [SP] the bunny gently. Don’t panic.

Amy: Okay.

Mary: Put the thermometer in and let it go up until it either beeps or stops moving. You can see this.

Amy: Her spine’s resting.

Mary: Her spine is . . .

Amy: Like, you don’t have to worry about . . .

Mary: Yeah. It’s very well supported on the table.

Amy: Okay.

Mary: She’s got a little cushioning under her. She has these cotton rugs and a towel for cushioning. You can see that she’s comfortable and not moving.

Amy: Oh, yeah. She looks really relaxed.

Mary: Yeah, she’s good and I keep my finger on the end of the thermometer just in case because sometimes when you try to put it in there’ll be a poop on its way out.

Amy: Mm.

Mary: You’ll encounter a little resistance.

Amy: Yeah.

Mary: We don’t want to have that be part of the temperature taking. We just kind of wait until . . .

Amy: There’s a temperature.

Mary: Her temperature is you can read it from here.

Amy: 101.9

Mary: Which is perfect.

Amy: Perfect.

Mary: A bunny’s normal temperature is . . .

Amy: But see, why isn’t she stressed out because you got this foreign object stuck in her (?) ?

Mary: It’s so well lubed I don’t think she knows she has a foreign object.

Amy: Okay.

Mary: Normal temperature is 101 to 103 give or take a little bit, but that’s a nice normal temperature.

Amy: Okay.

Mary: So, you can take that out.

Amy: So, sometimes when you don’t know what’s wrong with your rabbit . . . I know Mary’s called me at home, she said, well, take her temperature, your rabbit’s temperature and then we’ll go from there. Like, if it’s low then it’s something serious, you know? If it’s not, maybe it’s gas.

Mary: Yeah and with rabbits believe it or not, a low temperature is more dangerous, I shouldn’t say more dangerous, but as dangerous as a higher temperature and much more common. When a rabbit stops eating for any reason the temperature can start to drop and that starts a cascade of events that will result in even a bigger problem than whatever the initial one is. So, if a rabbits temperature is low that’s useful information for the vet. You may want to start providing a little bit of heat at home with a heating pad set on the lowest possible setting and in an area where the rabbit can get off it.

So, that’s what we do with temperature taking. This rabbit has a little rattly sound in her throat, so she may in fact need a vet visit.

Amy: She’s a smoker.

Mary: She’s a heavy smoker, yeah. That’s what her name is, Smokie [SP].

Amy: So, temperature taking.