ALL ABOUT RABBITS
A Little History
The House Rabbit
A Quick Glance -
Spaying & Neutering -
Life Expectancy -
Diet -
Handling -
Grooming -
Bonding -
Litter-Training -
Breeds -
Healthcare
Emergencies -  
Recommended Vets in Singapore -
Common Illnesses -
Preventive Measures -
Care for the Sick -
Air Travel with Rabbits
Pregnancy & Rabbits
General Misconceptions
Why Breeding is Bad
Confronting Animal Abuse
 

 



 
 

The House Rabbit
Handling

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 sensitive areas.

AN UPLIFTING EXPERIENCE
By Holly O'Meara, extracted from the House Rabbit Society website

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 with food.

Tail 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 is over.

The 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 medium-to-large-sized rabbit.

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.

1. In 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 the rump.
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 me.)

4. Once bunny is lifted, hug him securely against you with one arm, supporting his body and the other arm supporting his hindquarters.
Remember when handling your rabbit to always treat them gently and carefully.
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