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Reposted with permission of the House Rabbit Society.


Megacolon is an inherited genetic condition that causes the nerve endings in a rabbit's intestinal tract not to function properly, and it often gets progressively worse as the rabbit gets older. It can lead to a slowing or stoppage of food through the digestive system and needs to be regulated with motility medication(s), which help move the food through a rabbit's system so that blockages or back ups don't occur. Rabbits with megacolon typically have poops that are irregular shapes and sizes. Without treatment, a rabbit's abdomen can become distended from backed up materials in the cecum.

Spotted rabbits that are mostly white with fewer spots, or rabbits with only color around their eyes, or Himalayan/Californian-type rabbits with irregular markings on their nose/ears have more genetic predisposition to megacolon. Rarely, a white bunny with pink eyes can be affected. If a bunny has this coat pattern and irregular size/shape poops, we recommend visiting a rabbit-savvy veterinarian to get a fecal test to rule out coccidia and inquire about the possibility of megacolon and whether they would recommend starting regular motility medications before there is a problem. 


For rabbits with megacolon, it's critical to notice any signs of discomfort, lack of appetite, decrease in poops, or change in poops, as these are signs the condition could be worsening and veterinary help should be sought immediately. Rabbits with megacolon require more regular preventive vet visits than other rabbits as their condition should be checked by a veterinarian to see if any medications need to be changed or adjusted. At HRS headquarters, motility medications have helped lengthen the lives of many rabbits with megacolon and they can help prevent stasis in these rabbits, too. A GI crisis for a rabbit with megacolon can further damage their intestinal function, so prevention is key. The good news is that many oral motility medications can be compounded and flavored with yummy tastes like banana and many rabbits love taking them!

Rabbits with megacolon may not absorb the nutrients from their food well. Without treatment, rabbits can lose weight and muscle, especially along their back. Rabbits with megacolon need pellets in their diet for the extra nutrition and calories, and they may need larger servings than other rabbits. They may do better on an extruded-type pellet - these are easier to digest as they are pre-cooked. Supreme Selective pellets and Versele-Laga Complete are two examples. Rabbits with megacolon often do well with up to unlimited greens for the moisture and fiber. Some rabbits are more sensitive to a particular vegetable(s), so it's important to observe your rabbit when you introduce new greens. As sugars in the diet can cause overgrowth of the bacteria Clostridium in a rabbit's GI system and cause gas and toxins to be produced, we recommend not feeding fruit to rabbits with megacolon. 


With more regular preventive veterinary care and motility medications, megacolon can be medically managed. It's critical for rabbit guardians to monitor their rabbit closely for signs of a GI tract slowdown. It's also important to have a great vet. 

 who understands megacolon and can help if and when an emergency arises. 


People who have adopted and fostered rabbits with megacolon have told us that these are some of the sweetest, most loving rabbits they have known.


From:  House Rabbit Society

148 Broadway, Richmond, CA 94804