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"Taming" a kit

Understand why your rabbits behave the way they do - and what you can do about it.
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"Taming" a kit

Post Number:#1  Unread postby Ferra » Fri Jan 13, 2017 9:37 pm


So I've got a litter growing out right now. They've just hit three weeks old and are starting to get particularly active. I am also just beginning to feel more certain about sexes, as well. I have a particular kit I'm thinking about keeping as a breeding doe. The dam is a nice enough rabbit, but would, on the whole, prefer not to be handled by humans where possible. She goes about as far as forehead stroking and taking the occasional treat from fingers. Being picked up is off the docket for this doe, as is nicely laying on her back for health checks. (I use towels for both activities, as my doe has never bitten, but scratches like a champion).

So, in hopes of having my next herd addition be a little more manageable than her mother, I thought I'd ask:

Does anyone have any taming/handling tips or tricks for turning their favourite kits into well-mannered breeding animals?
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Re: "Taming" a kit

Post Number:#2  Unread postby shazza » Sat Jan 14, 2017 12:51 am


handle them as much as possible, really! pick them up and turn them over and move em around pretty regularly. most of the rabbits i've had since they were young i kept inside for a few weeks for quarantine since they were purchased, but it really seemed to make a difference with them being used to me walking around their cages and handling them often. once they hit puberty though, it's really hit or miss if they'll still be friendly. getting older + being moved outside and not having as much interaction on a daily basis i think makes my rabbits not keen on being picked up, but they don't pitch a fit and i can carry them and inspect as needed easily and not have to worry about being beat up. which is fine by me, lol. i never expect them to be like house rabbits.
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Re: "Taming" a kit

Post Number:#3  Unread postby bigfoot_158 » Sat Jan 14, 2017 3:22 am


Handling is the key. I bought one of my does off a farm that had kids constantly playing with them. She will not fight or bite. She wont even kick ya when picked up. When she had enough petting she will move to different part of the cage. One other doe came from a person who showed rabbits and has a large herd. This doesnt like to be handled at all. When she out of her cage she not aggressive but if you put your hand in cage she will get in defense mode and try to scratch you. I have been forcing her to be petted with and without a litter. I pre to get my breeding stock as young as possible so I can tame them a little.
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Re: "Taming" a kit

Post Number:#4  Unread postby BlueHaven » Sat Jan 14, 2017 7:04 pm


when working with animals most people expect to much and go way to fast. If you can pet her head, and feed her this is good. When you go to pick her up, pick her up and put her right back down BEFORE she panics. Up down that quick. If you do this about twenty times, three or four times a day, she will know you are not trapping her and get used to it. Next you want to hold her off the ground just for about three to five seconds. YOu are just building on her patience. Soon you wil be able to get her to your chest and let her immediately tuck her head under you arm pit. She will feel safe there. as soon as she is quite for a few seconds, put her back. Rear end first in the cage works best. Don't just drive her nuts by overworking her. Always treat after you are done and she will learn to wait for her treat. Same with posing. Don't just poke and prod her. Let her relax a little and walk around on the table. THen put her in positioin for just a few seconds, then treat right under her nose so she won't go looking for it. She will get better and better on waiting till you treat her. I only treat with a few flakes of oatmeal, My rabbits love to see me coming.

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Re: "Taming" a kit

Post Number:#5  Unread postby bigfoot_158 » Sun Jan 15, 2017 3:22 am


Thanks for the info BlueHaven, I will have to remember that.
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Re: "Taming" a kit

Post Number:#6  Unread postby a7736100 » Sun Jan 15, 2017 11:17 am


Some times it's just picking the right rabbit. I have one very gentle doe that was not handled and caged with a buck early on. She started having litters on the wire which all died due to exposure. After the third litter I decided to place her indoors in her own cage with hay. She did build a so-so nest. All the while she was gentle and didn't mind being picked up etc. So far all 6 kits are mellow about being handled at 3 weeks. She only nipped at me a couple times when I went in the nest to get the kits.
Don't know if being caged with a mellow buck had any effect. The buck craves being handled. Always come trying to touch me when I fed them. The doe didn't so I was surprised that she turned out so tame.

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Re: "Taming" a kit

Post Number:#7  Unread postby Rainey » Sun Jan 15, 2017 1:14 pm


When we were first getting started we had trouble picking up our rabbits to cut toenails, sex kits, etc. There was a thread from someone about handling and various advice was offered. We used the method described by MSD, post #8 in that thread. We don't handle our rabbits as much as some folks on here do, but we found that taking the time to do accustom each rabbit we were going to keep and breed to handling as described paid off. I had kept a page of links to helpful information and will see if I can post that link here. (not so good at some of this) post243451.html?hilit=handling%20rabbits#p243451 If that doesn't work you can look in Handling, Grooming and Hygiene. the thread was I think i need to get rid of my NZWs.
Hope you find it helpful. It's no fun getting scratched.

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Re: "Taming" a kit

Post Number:#8  Unread postby Ferra » Sun Jan 15, 2017 2:15 pm


Thanks for all of the advice, guys!

For what it's worth, I've far from given up on my elder doe - (Who is a fantastic mother, and typically a very nice rabbit as long as she has all four feet on the ground and isn't hormonally guarding her snack-dish from your thieving hands). I am curious if the MSD-method Rainey mentioned would work for her. I may have to try it.

If I'd known a little more about handling when I brought her home, I suspect she'd be a perfectly well adjusted rabbit where being lifted is concerned. But I assumed handling training was too stressful to combine with getting used to a new environment, so I let her get stuck in her ways and get away without being handled for a good while. I also had some pretty terrible handling technique to start... All the books mentioned putting the rabbit in the football hold, but there were some important details about getting hands securely under rabbits, and getting them into that hold that I was pretty weak on. I'm not all that surprised that my doe isn't a fan of being picked up. (I dislike it when my husband does the same to me, to be fair).

But I did get a real flight of fancy about the idea of raising a rabbit that was just calm and well-mannered from the get go. It helps that I'm super fond of this kit. She grows like a little weed, comes over to say hi and pick up treats from me (assuming mom doesn't steal the raisin first), and has the fluffiest little chinchilla coat. So far, she's grown well, and as far as I can see good conformation, so I kinda want to rear her into a fantastic little breeding doe. In large part I'd like to avoid the handling mistakes I made the first time around... *sigh*
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Re: "Taming" a kit

Post Number:#9  Unread postby Rainey » Sun Jan 15, 2017 4:01 pm


If you can have them used to being handled and not flailing and scratching right from the start, that's great. But MSD's technique worked for us on older rabbits that we hadn't been able to handle easily before. They'd never been mistreated--just not handled much and we'd not been consistent about how we picked them up. Was surprising how much difference it makes just remembering to put them into the cage hind end first instead of head first.
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Re: "Taming" a kit

Post Number:#10  Unread postby AnnClaire » Mon Jan 16, 2017 11:56 pm


For home bred kits, I handle them as much as possible, even going so far as to house them in an indoor corral for weaning. This cage is situated in front of the TV, so plenty of noise, walking back and forth, and when watching my shows in the evening, pulling one at a time out and just petting/hanging out.

For those that are going to be meat, I put down a large beach to well on the couch and just after their eyes are opened, I will bring in the whole litter and let them explore the couch and me. This way, I don't beat attached, but they are not spastic fur balls at butchering time.

However, even the most laid back buck/doe combination can result in a spazoid kit that no matter what you do, it freaks out for no real reason. Since I raise Silver Fox and English Angoras, a nice disposition is one of my requirements, so the spazoid goes to freezer camp no matter the breed or conformation.

Of course, I do have a spazoid doe that I raised that will bunny blender any time she doesn't like something. This has recently started up after her first litter, so it is something we are working on at this time. And she was the friendly, calm one when still with her littermates! Go figure LOL
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Re: "Taming" a kit

Post Number:#11  Unread postby Easy Ears » Thu Jan 19, 2017 12:13 pm


I agree fully with Shazza. But would like to add, start as early as you can next time! I start handling at day one! :) It does make a big difference.
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