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Best, Cleanest, Fastest Dispatch?

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Best, Cleanest, Fastest Dispatch?

Post Number:#1  Unread postby Susie570 » Mon May 18, 2015 7:45 am


The reality of raising rabbits is that I will, eventually, have to dispatch a rabbit on my own. Rabbits get badly hurt, rabbits get sick, rabbits get old, sometimes they are born with serious genetic deformities. I know these things and, faced with that knowledge, I want to be prepared to quickly end the suffering of a rabbit without it being unnecessarily traumatic for me, or my kid if he had to be there (which is likely, since he's nearly always with me).

So, bearing in mind that this will be something I will rarely do, it's not like I'll get 'practice' in, what's the best, most idiot-proof, humane method you have found?

I don't mind buying something to keep on hand for this. Just need to know what to get.
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Re: Best, Cleanest, Fastest Dispatch?

Post Number:#2  Unread postby MaggieJ » Mon May 18, 2015 8:43 am


I really admire you, Susie, for looking ahead and being prepared. I don't think there is one best way to dispatch a rabbit. All you can do, really, is to find what method is likely to be least upsetting for you and fast and sure for the rabbit.

For myself, I found a pellet gun to be easiest. I have "bopped" suffering kits by putting them on a hard surface and hitting the heads with a hammer, but I'm not strong enough to be certain of being able to strike a killing blow on a full grown rabbit.

With the pellet gun, I shoot at the back of the neck just below the skull with the mouth of the barrel almost touching the rabbit. Fire forward towards the rabbit's nose. This will sever the spinal column and is the equivalent of breaking the rabbit's neck. There will be some blood but not generally all that much. There will be some reflex kicking, especially of the hind legs, which may make you wonder if the rabbit is really dead. Generally speaking, the rabbit's eyes will be open. If you are uncertain that the rabbit is dead, touch the eyeball. If there is no response, you know you have been successful.

I'm sorry if this is too explicit, but it is better to know what to expect. Keep in mind that the rabbit does not know it is going to die and that if it suffers at all it is only for an instant.

Other people will no doubt post their best methods of dispatch. Read them all and walk yourself through the process mentally to decide which method would likely be best for you.

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Re: Best, Cleanest, Fastest Dispatch?

Post Number:#3  Unread postby Dood » Mon May 18, 2015 9:30 am


I was taught the cervical dislocation method for my mice when I was a "tween" and have used it ever since. It is the method I'm most comfortable with and I had a "rabbit wringer" built when I started my meat rabbit adventure 4 years ago

I have used the "Swedish method" (stun on front of skull and bleed out and the one used in most abattoirs) on some of our livestock that needed to be emergency euthanized but I'm not a fan of cutting the jugular and the blood splattering - especially if there are death throes

Pellet guns with enough velocity to humanely dispatch a 5 pound rabbit require a firearms permit to own in Ontario Canada so that isn't an option for me - even if I did have such a liscense they are also pretty expensive on this side of the border and I doubt I'd invest in one just to dispatch rabbits

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Re: Best, Cleanest, Fastest Dispatch?

Post Number:#4  Unread postby FourRingCircus » Mon May 18, 2015 9:41 am


For newborn kits, a pair of scissors works well. I had to do that for my first batch because one was wasting away, not sure what happened exactly. It was quick, and there is no doubt that it did what it needed to do. I remember reading it in regards to chicks a while back so I figured it would work for rabbits as well.
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Re: Best, Cleanest, Fastest Dispatch?

Post Number:#5  Unread postby Susie570 » Mon May 18, 2015 9:56 am


Does anyone know (or have experience with) a device that fires a spike into the brain? I know there are such things for dispatching cattle (and pigs?) but I'm sure those are much larger and thought there might be one for rabbits. Sort of like a handgun, but it just ejects an icepick type spike... I don't know if that would be easy to place correctly, or ultimately less traumatic, but it might be.

I have considered the cervical dislocation bar, it seems very very quick and easy, but I worry it wouldn't work for smaller kits and I'm not sure I would have the necessary willpower to do a cervical dislocation with just my hands (I've seen it done, I'm afraid I would wimp out at the last second and end up with a horrible situation for a few seconds). I am thinking it would be helpful, whichever method I used, to first do a 'rabbit burrito' thing with a towel, to hold the rabbit stable.

It would be great, if the rabbit were potentially edible for the family, if I could then process the rabbit, or put it in cold storage and have someone do that for me, but alternately I'm thinking I could stuff the rabbit into a gallon ziplock bag and put it in the freezer for the raptor center.

I really hate thinking about all of this stuff, but better to plan it out now than later when I'm faced with a situation where it has to be done RIGHT THEN. :p
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Re: Best, Cleanest, Fastest Dispatch?

Post Number:#6  Unread postby katiebear » Mon May 18, 2015 10:58 am


I think you are thinking about a captive bolt gun.I have the Ballista captive bolt gun and could not be more pleased.If you position the rabbit correctly you get instant death with very little death throws. If you go to the bunny rancher web site there is a video on its use. The site store owner is a member here as well..
There is also a bolt gun made by the Rabbit Wringer folks...it costs a lot more and is bigger..so for a woman (smaller hands,and not so much upper body strength)I believe the Ballista is the way to go....
Best of luck, it is really great to see you maturing in your attitude toward this end of the husbandry scale.. :D

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Re: Best, Cleanest, Fastest Dispatch?

Post Number:#7  Unread postby MamaSheepdog » Mon May 18, 2015 11:57 am


For very young kits my preferred method is to put them in a bag and whack it HARD against a solid surface. If you are squeamish, a paper lunch sack is great because you can't see the kit at all prior to doing the deed. The aftermath is not gruesome though and there is usually just a bit of bleeding from the nose.

I have used a pellet gun on larger rabbits and found that if you place the barrel directly at the base of the skull on the spinal column and aim toward the mouth most rabbits will just keel over with very little death-throe kicking. I am looking into getting some lead free pellets (since the heads go to my dogs) especially for teaching purposes so I will have an alternative to the "Swedish method" that I usually use, thereby giving people more options.

I have seen discussion on the captive bolt products and some people have had trouble getting a clean kill. As with any method there seems to be a learning curve.

Killing things cleanly is a learned skill, so you are bound to have some mishaps no matter which method you ultimately choose. I always feel guilty if something goes wrong, but know that the bottom line is that my intention was to cause as little suffering as possible and to err is human.
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Re: Best, Cleanest, Fastest Dispatch?

Post Number:#8  Unread postby MaggieJ » Mon May 18, 2015 1:04 pm


Dood wrote:I was taught the cervical dislocation method for my mice when I was a "tween" and have used it ever since. It is the method I'm most comfortable with and I had a "rabbit wringer" built when I started my meat rabbit adventure 4 years ago

I have used the "Swedish method" (stun on front of skull and bleed out and the one used in most abattoirs) on some of our livestock that needed to be emergency euthanized but I'm not a fan of cutting the jugular and the blood splattering - especially if there are death throes

Pellet guns with enough velocity to humanely dispatch a 5 pound rabbit require a firearms permit to own in Ontario Canada so that isn't an option for me - even if I did have such a liscense they are also pretty expensive on this side of the border and I doubt I'd invest in one just to dispatch rabbits


We used a Crossman pellet gun with a velocity of 795 fps for mature rabbits. It did not require a license and properly placed (as MSD and I described it) it does the job. In the United States, Susie, you can probably get one with a higher velocity, which would be better. I am not urging use of a pellet gun -- captive bolt, rabbit wringer and the Swedish method are all considered humane methods too. Pellet guns do tend to be a bit expensive to buy for only occasional use, but sometimes you can find one second-hand at a yard sale.

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Re: Best, Cleanest, Fastest Dispatch?

Post Number:#9  Unread postby Susie570 » Mon May 18, 2015 1:09 pm


Thank you all... lots of options to consider.
The captive bolt thing sounds like it might be good to have on hand.
If I used a pellet gun I would want to make sure to not use lead pellets because that would not be good for the raptors if I sent the carcass there.
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Re: Best, Cleanest, Fastest Dispatch?

Post Number:#10  Unread postby katiebear » Mon May 18, 2015 1:49 pm


Suzie,I don't usually recommend you tube..lots of ya-hoos there...but you may want to watch a few videos before making your decision. ..and I am sure that you have considered that a pellet gun looks very much like a real gun..that opens up another issue with a child...some folks don't want their kids around guns..my daughter is your age and she is in that camp..just a thought. ...I would like to have one myself..so I am definitely not against them..

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Re: Best, Cleanest, Fastest Dispatch?

Post Number:#11  Unread postby TF3 » Mon May 18, 2015 2:16 pm


I know I am a newbie, but this became reality for me this week.
I did You-tube, and given that I was by myself with my daughter home, I needed bloodless, quick and quiet.
I decided on the broomstick.

Thank you for asking about smaller ones and kits.
I can't imagine broomsticking the Hollands.

HERITAGE~ for scissors and kits, do you cut off the head (sorry to be graphic, I just want to be sure!)
Last edited by TF3 on Mon May 18, 2015 8:04 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Best, Cleanest, Fastest Dispatch?

Post Number:#12  Unread postby Zass » Mon May 18, 2015 2:33 pm


She did kick heavily


Think carefully about the kicking.
Can a rabbit with a dislocated neck voluntarily move it's feet at all?

I don't think so.

I firmly believe the kicking to be caused by automatic nerve responses. It can be upsetting to look at, but I do not believe that the rabbit can feel anything that happens to their lower body during that time. Especially since automatic reflexes are absent, like blinking if an eye is poked.
To me that spells absence of consciousness.

When an animal we are putting down begins that violent seeming "kicking" here, it is generally seen as a positive sign, as it means that the animal has been effectively killed, and not just stunned.

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Re: Best, Cleanest, Fastest Dispatch?

Post Number:#13  Unread postby Susie570 » Mon May 18, 2015 2:39 pm


TF3 wrote:Lifting her and bagging her to the trash was the saddest part, I need to have a better 'end of life' plan if I am not up to cleaning them myself yet.


HERITAGE~ for scissors and kits, do you cut off the head (sorry to be graphic, I just want to be sure!)


Thank you for sharing the details of your experience. I do think that having to stand on the neck of the rabbit would be pretty upsetting for all involved.

As for an 'end of life' plan, I do recommend you see if there is a raptor (or wildlife) rehab center near you. They are grateful for a complete frozen bunny to feed to the predators. You can contact them and make arrangements well in advance (as I have), so when/if you need to take that step again, if you don't eat the rabbit yourself, you know it's going to a good cause.
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Re: Best, Cleanest, Fastest Dispatch?

Post Number:#14  Unread postby FourRingCircus » Mon May 18, 2015 4:04 pm


TF3 wrote:HERITAGE~ for scissors and kits, do you cut off the head (sorry to be graphic, I just want to be sure!)


Yes, that's what I did. They are so small, and bones so soft, it doesn't take any effort. It was kind of sad to see the automatic responses in such a small one, but it was better than it starving to death (which is what it was doing... It looked like a live baby rabbit mummy).
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Re: Best, Cleanest, Fastest Dispatch?

Post Number:#15  Unread postby DBA » Mon May 18, 2015 4:24 pm


I had never tried the broomstick method unrolled a few months ago, I will stick with that method now.
Quick and easy. Of the few I have had to put down that way, only one had any twitching at all afterwords, and only two or three kicks. It is a bit akward at first, but once you get the idea and can move fast, it is quick and effective, and no blood.

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