My House Rabbit

Handling Your Pet Rabbit

Holding a rabbit

The first and most important rule of picking up a rabbit is to never pick him/her up by the ears, the scruff, legs or tail. It is painful and can cause serious damage. You wouldn't want to be lifted by your ears, would you?

The second rule to remember is that rabbits are fragile. They are quick indeed, but have weak skeletal systems.

Thirdly, rabbits do not always enjoy being picked up. Some of them will tolerate it, but many will struggle when you try to lift them. Therefore, picking them up can be a delicate business.

Sometimes it is necessary to pick up your rabbit, however, such as for nail clipping or vet checks. So here are some useful tips.

  • Approach your rabbit slowly and get down to his/her level. It will help put your bun at ease. Petting the rabbit will also have a calming effect.
  • When you feel confident your rabbit is ready to be picked up, scoop him/her up by placing a hand under the torso and pull your bunny close to your body.
  • Support the rabbit's hindquarters. Your bunny needs to feel secure in your arms.
  • If your rabbit struggles when being picked up, hold him/her firmly, but be ready to put him/her down. Your rabbit may think the better alternative to being held is to leap from your arms, but this can cause serious injury.
  • When putting your rabbit down, slowly squat down while holding your bunny close, and let him/her down gently.

Your rabbit may respond with a thump or may kick up his/her hind legs at you while scampering away. It's nothing personal, he/she just disapproves of being picked up.