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How do you pick up a rabbit?

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How do you pick up a rabbit?

Post Number:#1  Unread postby MidwestMatthew » Sat Jul 23, 2016 8:51 pm


Our New Zealands were just fine being handled by their previous owner. She picked them right up out of their cages and put them into crates for me to drive home and they were just fine. But half an hour later, they fought tooth and nail when I tried to do the same thing, and it hasn't improved since. It literally took me over an hour to get two rabbits from their outside cages into temporary housing in our basement because of the heat the last few days. The ordeal was so traumatic to them that three days later, they still hunker down low in the corner of their cages and lower their ears every time I open the cage doors - even just to put in some hay.

Because they obviously don't like it, I try to handle them as little as possible. But sometimes you've got to do things with rabbits that require handling them - and I can't seem to figure it out. I've watched all the YouTube videos, watched other people handle rabbits, and for whatever reason, ours simply will not let me pick them up.

Just for the record, I'm very gentle and quiet around them, try hard to protect them from startles, etc. They're not pets and usually live outside, but other than that, it's hard to imagine meat rabbits having it better than ours have got it.

So how can I manage to actually pick up these rabbits for cage transfers, etc.? (And I hate to think what's going to happen when their nails need to be trimmed!)

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Re: How do you pick up a rabbit?

Post Number:#2  Unread postby Zass » Sun Jul 24, 2016 2:45 pm


It may be a dominance issue. Make sure you always handle them gently, but also firmly and confidently. Do not give them the option to see where they are going if they try to struggle towards it, or any wiggle room to claw or kick you. Most rabbits do not like being picked up, but will accept it if they feel there is nothing they can do about the situation.

As far as handling goes, I only scruff when it's absolutely necessary to scruff, usually to avoid injury to a struggling rabbit. (Also, if I have to scruff due to struggling fiercely enough to injure themselves, without a very good reason, that bun gets a dinner ticket.)

I do not believe anyone is wrong for scruffing, but I choose not to handle my buns that way simply because I do not need to.
I usually just slide one hand under the forefeet and the other under the bum, followed by a quick motion to the chest, because, they prefer to have their paws against a surface. I keep one hand on the backside to kind of hold them against me, freeing up the other hand for things like closing cage doors.
Most of mine are perfectly content to be carried that way.
Last edited by Zass on Mon Jul 25, 2016 12:34 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: How do you pick up a rabbit?

Post Number:#3  Unread postby Marinea » Sun Jul 24, 2016 3:46 pm


"How do you pick up a rabbit?"

"Hey baby, how YOU doin'?"
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Re: How do you pick up a rabbit?

Post Number:#4  Unread postby shazza » Sun Jul 24, 2016 4:10 pm


i'm more of a fan of a nice tail wiggle and running in circles ;P


most of my rabbits are quite handleable but i do have a few that are not used to being held at all. i usually will gently grab the scruff and as quickly as possible shove them into my elbow like a football. they usually won't thrash around too much with a bit of pressure on their bodies and my other hand under their bellies/butts. even my harlequin, who really hates being touched or held, stays calm enough for me to move him around wherever i need to if i just swiftly scoop him up and press him against me like that. if they still try to kick you can hold their feet in your other hand and usually they calm down. at the very least you are more in control of the painful parts.

also, usually with time they calm down a little. they don't know you and so far you are not much more than an annoyance and a threat - sometimes it can take months for them to see you as the food source and calm down in your presence. they might never enjoy being held, but at least in the future they likely will not cower from you when you go in to feed them. even being known only as the thing that feeds us is better than nothing imo.
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Re: How do you pick up a rabbit?

Post Number:#5  Unread postby Preitler » Sun Jul 24, 2016 4:52 pm


Marinea wrote:"Hey baby, how YOU doin'?"


"Get lost." would most likely be the answer :lol:

Anyway, I stopped scruffing when I saw that it sometimes does leave hematoma, at least I dont lift them by the scruff, but it is useful to restrain them.
It took some time to master it, but now I put my right arm under them, hand between front legs, support the rear end with the other hand and lift them in swift motion to my chest so that they sit on my left arm, I pin them down with the right hand at their shoulders so they cant go back or forward.
Only my buck is a little strong for that, and he bites when he's pissed off, so I quickly turn him on his back, all 4 feet in the air, and carry him this way. He got used to it pretty fast.

When the rabbit is hunkered in a corner or facing me I gently grab their hind legs (not feet) with both hands, support their body with my forarm and pull them quickly to my chest. They have a funny look on their face when I do that, like "Hey, What???"

It is quite important to be confident and consequent when handling rabbits, if they feel that you are unsure they see their chance, and when biting or struggling works for them they'll remember that for some time...

When I started with rabbits, for months I looked like I did sparring for Freddie Krueger...

About getting the rabbits more tame, well, it'll take some time, I would put my hand in the cage as often as possible, when they don't freak out about that start petting them (if they like it or not), give a treat afterwards. Then pet them while they are eating, lay an arm alongside to them, and so on - I had a quite scared and depressed doe this year, seperated her from the two other does because she got mobbed awfully, it took about 2-3 months, now she is a calm, friendly rabbit. I even took her into the house for some days, so she got used to my presence.
The time and work to make them trust you is worth the effort, it's much more fun with friendly rabbits.
"Sometimes I stand by the door and look into the darkness, then I am reminded how dearly I cherish my boredom, and what a precious commodity is so much misery"

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Re: How do you pick up a rabbit?

Post Number:#6  Unread postby Dood » Mon Jul 25, 2016 8:12 am


:yeahthat:


To haul fractious rabbits out of a 10"x10" door I use my right (dominant hand) to pin, scruf, flip, drag sideways to the door and once their front half is out I scoop them up under the arms with my left hand to drag them the rest of the way out, re-adjust my right to support their hind end, tuck their head in my left elbow, cup their butt with my left hand, hug them tight to my body and travel to their new location (table, cage, carrier, pen etc...)

Easy peasy :cheesysmile:

You've just got to practice and get use to handling them and lugging them around

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Re: How do you pick up a rabbit?

Post Number:#7  Unread postby Zass » Mon Jul 25, 2016 12:32 pm


Also, from my experience, rabbits hate being pulled through small openings.
Big doors(that allow you to use both hands freely) or top opening pens can help immensely. If your pens have small side doors, you might consider replacing them with more comfortable ones.

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Re: How do you pick up a rabbit?

Post Number:#8  Unread postby MidwestMatthew » Mon Jul 25, 2016 8:41 pm


Thanks for all the advice. Evidently it just takes a firmer hand than I thought. I transferred the rabbits back outside tonight and while I'd never say it went "well," it at least was over in ten minutes and nobody got hurt (well, except for the rabbits' feelings, but I assume they'll get over it again.) The doe is actually more of a handful than the buck. He seems to recognize, and bow to, dominance, whereas the doe just fights like crazy. Thankfully only one of her kits seems to have inherited that tendency, at least as far as is possible to tell at four weeks!

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