Firework safety for rabbits on bonfire night

Bonfire night can be a distressing and frightening time for all our pets, not just dogs. Rabbits, guinea pigs, hamsters, cats and birds can all be affected by the noise of fireworks. Some can get very scared and run off. Every autumn our emergency vets treat hundreds of pets who have been involved in road traffic accidents after being spooked by fireworks and running on to a road.

Rabbits have even been known to die of fright when fireworks are set off near their home. Owners can really help by ensuring their pets are as calm and comfortable as possible on and around Guy Fawkes night.

What are the signs of distress in rabbits?

Rabbits are highly sensitive to loud bangs from fireworks and their natural instinct is to run away. Signs of distress typically include:

  • Stamping hind feet
  • Staying motionless
  • Trying to escape
  • Aggression
  • Change in appetite
  • Change in toileting habits
Image of a rabbit for Vets Now article on fireworks dangers to rabbits
Rabbits, in particular, are social animals so try to make sure they’re with someone they’re familiar with

What can I do to protect my rabbit from fireworks?

On bonfire night there are several steps rabbit owners can take to help protect their pet. These include:

  • Bring your rabbit hutch inside. If this isn’t possible, partly cover hutches and other outside cages with blankets so that they have some soundproofing
  • Try to soundproof your house — closing windows and drawing curtains
  • Provide some background “white noise” such as the TV, radio or other music — it’s wise to start this in advance of the fireworks starting
  • Make sure hutches and cages contain hiding places and secure areas where your pet can go to feel safe, with plenty of bedding — this will help keep noise out and provide a hiding place
  • Rabbits, in particular, are social animals so try to make sure they’re with someone they’re familiar with

When to seek veterinary advice

If you’re really concerned over the level of anxiety being displayed by your rabbit, it’s worth chatting with your vet to see what options are available to help them. Unfortunately, there are no synthetic pheromones available for rabbits to reduce stress like the ones for cats and dogs. You may also want to rule out other conditions that might be causing their behaviour,