Rabbit Owner's Guide

Handling your rabbit

Contrary to rumours, rabbits should NEVER be picked up with their ears alone. This method of handling can be potentially life threatening to bunnies because of their fragile spines, which may snap when you lift them with their ears.

The appropriate way of picking up a rabbit is to slide one hand under its belly while you cup the other hand around its bottom. Once you have got a steady hold on your bunny, lift it up and hold it close to you. Your rabbit will appreciate that closeness because it makes him feel secure. It also prevents the rabbit from kicking wildly when it is frightened, which may cause injury to both you and your bunny.

When your bunny is frightened or unstable when picked up, it may bite, scratch, and try to escape by kicking wildly. When your rabbit kicks hard while being held, it may risk fracturing its back because its skeleton is very delicate and brittle. You should practice handling your bunny on low ground where there is lesser chance of it kicking free and injuring itself if it falls.

To protect yourself from scratches or bites, wear long sleeved clothing and practice picking up your bunny frequently. Frequent handling allows your bunny to become familiar with you.

Trancing your rabbit

Trancing your rabbit involves putting your bunny on his back and watching him become relaxed. However, the state you have put your bunny in is part of its natural defences against predators. When a predator grabs a bunny, the rabbit will "freeze" and imitate prey that has been killed. When the predator releases the supposedly "dead" rabbit, the rabbit will burst to life and try to escape.

It is not advisable to put your rabbit in a trance too often. Rabbits do not particularly like being in this position either and may get angry afterwards. However, trancing your rabbit is useful when it needs to be groomed. When your rabbit is tranced, you can trim its nails and check for abscesses as well as clean its paws, scent glands, and anus.

To be safe, try to groom your rabbit quickly when it is in a trance for it may wake suddenly and try to escape from you like it would for a predator. This could be potentially dangerous, if you are in the middle of nail clipping.