How to Pick Up Your Rabbit Taken from the books 'The
Essential Rabbit' & 'The Rabbit Handbook'
Contrary to rumor, rabbits
should never be picked up by their ears alone.
Whenever a rabbit is picked up, it is important to fully
support them so that they will feel secure. If the rabbit
is frightened or unstable when they are picked up, they
may bite, scratch or try to escape. A rabbit that kicks
hard with his rear legs while being held or picked up
risks fracturing their back. A rabbit's skeleton is
very delicate and brittle. This increases their chance
for injury. It is for these reasons that you must learn
to hold your rabbit properly and securely. (Before you
practice picking up and carrying your rabbit, be sure
to wear protective clothing. Bare skin and rabbit nails
don't mix). Also, some rabbits will become relaxed if
cradled on their backs with the head tipped gently backward.
This is often the easiest way to trim nails or clean
Rabbits can resist being lifted and carried in a number
of ways. Reacting instinctively to a predator-like grasp,
they may run away, hide, struggle. When caught, they
may kick, or launch into space. A normally affectionate
rabbit may express indignation by wriggling, stamping,
or nipping you. All are attempts by the rabbit to retain
solid ground and control of his own fate. Knowing your
rabbit "hates to be picked up," it is up to
you to teach him to accept it. Here are the basics of
lifting your rabbit.
Use the environment to your advantage. The easiest
starting place is a small area accessible from the top,
such as a top-opening carrier or cage, pen, or small
room with no hiding places. More difficult is a cage
or carrier with a small side-opening door, or a room
with furniture bunny can hide under. Rabbits are good
at bracing themselves, and some will attack if cornered.
If bunny is underneath something, try coaxing him out
First If you must pull bunny out, try the backwards
method. Pet bunny firmly. Turn him around so his bottom
is facing the door you must get him through. Take
his chest in one hand to prevent forward movement,
and with the other hand, maneuver his hind end towards
you. Once you have his hind feet out, the hard part
Beginner Lift Now that bunny is out, it's time to lift him.
The following are directions (for right- handed people)
if you are uncertain, or having trouble lifting your
Start with the rabbit on the floor, say, in the bathroom.
Approach him slowly and pet him, leaving your hand
on his head to discourage escape. Rabbits feel uneasy,
and are most likely to struggle, when they are suspended
in the air. So be prepared before you lift. Visualize
how you want to hold the rabbit once you have lifted
him. For example: the rabbit right side up, nose pointed
to the left, left side along your midriff, supported
by your right arm. Next, slide the rabbit around while
he is still on the ground, until he matches this position,
i.e. sideways and pointed left. Is he thinking of
leaving? Keep your hand on his head, or gently grasp
his shoulders. Do not lift by the scruff. If he runs,
don't grab him. Follow him, using babytalk to lighten
the moment. Wait until he stops, and start again.
a kneeling position, pet with one hand, while sliding
the other hand down bunny's side.
2. With your arm at bunny's side, slide it under his
torso, while your (petting) hand moves toward his rump.
3. Support bunny's chest with your hand and his torso
with your arm. Lift, while the other (unseen) hand supports
Kneel, and keeping your left hand on
his head, bend your torso close to him. Place your right
arm along his right side, and put your right hand under
his chest. If he accepts this, take your left hand from
his head and use it to support his groin. Otherwise,
lift using your hand to support the chest, and your
arm to support the side and hindquarters. Scoop him
to you and hold him firmly there. The key to this method
is to position the rabbit within a few inches of you.
That way you will shorten the suspended-in-air stage.
Repete, s'il Vous Plait
The more you practice, the more confident
you will be, and the more readily your rabbit will accept
being lifted. If you repeat the above exercise several
times in a row, setting bunny down immediately and rewarding
him with a treat, his apprehension will decrease. (A
rabbit I set down for the third time, ran back and butted
bunny is lifted, hug him securely against you with one
arm, supporting his body and the other arm supporting
when handling your rabbit to always treat them gently