Good Bunny, Bad Bunny: Basic Bunny Grooming
Rabbit grooming. Do it right, and you foster strong loving bonds with your bunny, do it wrong and you and your bunny can both end up hurt.
Grooming is important for all rabbits, but especially for long haired rabbits which need regular grooming so as not to turn into one large matted fur ball. Failing to groom your long haired rabbit doesn't just mean that you'll have a messy looking rabbit, it means that your rabbit risks becoming crippled with fur mats which form between the legs and hobble the rabbit, sometimes even tearing the skin when they try to run.
Grooming also prevents lose fur from being groomed and ingested by the rabbit themselves and forming dangerous hairballs which block the intestinal tract and cause death.
The most common tool for grooming a rabbit is a wire brush with many tips. Be careful with this sort of implement, a rabbit's skin is extremely delicate, and you can easily rip and tear it. Be gentle and slow, and if you find any stubborn tangles or mats, carefully cut them out rather than pulling them out.
Your rabbit requires grooming all over its body, even on its tummy, so you can see why the skills mentioned in the handling section are so very important to master if you are to keep your rabbit healthy.
Rabbits need their nails trimmed every few weeks to stop them from growing too long. In the wild bunnies dig a great deal, which keeps the nails down. In their domestic lives rabbits hardly ever get a chance to dig, so their nails grow and grow, causing painful problems if they are not trimmed down.
The front nails can usually be trimmed by placing the rabbit down on the floor, holding it steady with your body (gently, of course), and lifting one of the front paws a little to access the nails. Be careful not to cut too much off the nail, there are nerves and blood vessels there, and it is both painful and messy if you cut them too far back.
That's the front nails done, but the back nails can be more of a challenge. The trimming of the back nails can be achieved by placing the rabbit in your lap and pinning it gently against your body with one arm whilst you access the back feet.
If your rabbit will tolerate it you can also put the rabbit on its back on your lap and hold it firmly in place whilst trimming the back nails. This provides easier access, but if you are not yet confident handling your rabbit, and your rabbit fights a lot, use the former method as it is less likely to result in injury to the bunny.
Next: Advanced Bunny Grooming
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