Is my Rabbit Happy? A Massage Might Help!
Bunnies love massages, it calms them and helps with bonding
Knowing your bunny
In part one of this post: Is My Rabbit Happy: The Telltale Signs I spoke about bringing a new bunny home and how to tell if its happy/unhappy/scared etc. These do of course apply to all house bunnies (indoor and out), but usually if you've had one for long enough, and treated it with love, you will find your own way of bonding with them.
However, even when you can see the signs of how a bunny is feeling, your not sure how to build the bond even more. For me and my partner, it took two years of constant attention and love. But now we have Cocoa, who absolutely loves t be around us, she sleeps under our bed with us, she watches tv with us, and goes for runs in the garden and knows that she is safe.
That said, not all Bunnies want cuddles and kisses, Cocoa still hates being picked up, so we try never to have to that to her, its much to traumatic and if we do have to, she always gives a little thump when she's placed on the ground again. So, no not all buns want this type of attention and it will absolutely take time for them to trust you enough to let you pet their tummies, or even noses.
But here's a good start:
That's quite the yawn after a nice relaxing massage!!
If your rabbit wont let you touch them
This is often the case, Im honestly going to chalk it up to bad handling at a young age, like pet shops or even sometimes breeders (the breeder we got Cocoa off seemed lovely and nice but when we got her she in a really small cage with three others and had a pretty bad eye infection).
Some things I found really helpful when trying to bond with Cocoa were simple tricks like lying on the floor, waiting for her to come to me and then letting her sniff around. Being on their level makes you less threatening, and gives them the opportunity to check you out. It may take days or weeks, but your bun will start to feel more secure.
Spending feeding time with them. Bunnies eat together, mostly because they are always eating something, but Cocoa definitely changed once I sat with her while she ate. I know it sounds like a lot of work, sitting down every few hours to watch a bunny feed (personally, I still do it, its adorable watching them) but honestly, there's nothing worse than just throwing the food down and walking away, it really stresses the 'Im your master' routine, so rather than wanting to be the owner of the Bunny, you should want to be the friend, and friends eat together :)
Hopefully these little bits of advice will help you in your bonding, if they do then yoou can move on to the massaging!!
I wouldn't recommend this one
Now purely for rabbit safety I fell I have to put some of these in:
Don't use oils or any type of massage equipment on the bunny. They are much to delicate for any oils and lotions. That includes brushes too, unless you have long haired rabbits, never brush a rabbit, they have extremely thin skin and one small cut can lead to serious rabbit injuries.
Also, don't pick the rabbit at first, its important to let them know they are safe, once they know that, they may let you pick them up for massages, Cocoa doesn't, she prefers to be on her mat.
Last but not least, Always, Always be gentle. Don't pet to hard, or pull their ears and remember, the tummy, chin and nose area will more than likely be the last places you will be able to massage, these are sensitive areas and buns keep them under lock and key until they are sure they are in safe hands.
It is also important to note that this is a great way to get to know your bunnies body so that if there are problems, you are more aware of your bun. Noticing scratches on a bun means their nails are too long, or there's something sharp in their cage area.
Different Bunny MassagesClick thumbnail to view full-size
A little video to help
Cocoa After Her Massage
Its usually good to wait for the bunny to lay down (unless you get on great with it). I start with the nosies but not everyone will be able to. its very simple, I rub my nose on Cocoa's nose. Its that easy, and super relaxing. Cocoa will grit her teeth for hours after a good little nose massage.
The shoulder rub: This is also quite simple, being gently, just rub circles around each of their shoulders. Sometimes I do this with nosies, sometimes without. But she certainly enjoys it and will lie flat on the ground for a while after sleeping. make sure not to poke their inner ears, that will wake them up.
The back rub: basically an extension of the Shoulder rub, instead of sticking to the shoulders, just rub one long stroke own her back, you can go for the middle down the spine, or two hands on both sides. If your bunny relaxes its shoulders and lies further to the ground, it's a good sign.
The tummy Massage (not for beginners): If your bunny is used to being handled then this is the one to do. If your bun doesn't but still lies with their Tummy exposed then that is perfect too. I would start on the floor, rubbing from just under the front legs to the back legs, sometimes with a nice soft blanket. Mother bunnies do this to the babies to get their digestion working, so because Cocoa never got that, she really responds to it. I don't pick her up to do it, but if you can. then lying them on their backs is the best way. Most bunnies will fall asleep on their backs, so giving them a tum rub as they fall asleep is the epitome of relaxation.
Chin Massages: Cocoa doesn't always like this one. Bunnies chins are sensitive,they use them to identify things by rubbing off things like their babies, or family members to recognize them. So if your bunny flinches, I wouldn't. The dd time Cocoa will let me do it, and I just place my open hand, palm up under her chin slowly, and then gently scratch underneath.
The Ear Massage: Cocoa's favorite massage is the ear and face. I start with her ears and softly stroke one ear from the base to the top, then move on the to the other. Or you can do both ears at once. For this start at the nose and keeping you hand closed around, but not touching, the face. Then as you move your hand up past the jaw, the ears will catch in your hand and you can either keep going down the buns back, or hold the ears and rub them as you lift them up and then drop them.
Another ear massage is where you simply use your fingers to rub circles at the base of their ears, then rub again from the base to the end of the ear.
Cheek massage: Cocoa not only loves this, but its an important way for me to check her teeth and gums. Sometimes bunnies can have teeth problems that affect their eating, so my rubbing very small circles on their cheeks, I can check for lumps or cuts.
All round face Massage: This I can do anywhere with Cocoa, she will stop what ever she's doing, get comfy and lift her chin for me to get at her face. Starting with her nose, rub gently between the eyes, from bottom to top, when you reach the ears, rub the base of each ear, and then a knuckle rub (it sounds rough, its not) for the cheeks. Repeat for as long as you like.
Another way of doing the face massage is by using one hand held in the 'n' shape, use this to start at the nose and rub cheeks and nose simultaneously .
Another Bunny Massage
Is My Rabbit Happy? Part One and Two
- Is my Rabbit Happy? The tell-tale signs
many people have rabbits as pets or for breeding, but are their rabbits actually happy? here are the tell tale signs of whether your bunny is a happy one or a sad one.
- Bonding with your Bunny.
Do you have a bunny who doesn't want to be touched or cuddled? With some time and dedication you could have a bunny who feels safe enough in your company to be picked up or cuddled.
© 2014 belleart