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How to Handle Your Bunny
I have been a rabbit owner all of my life. Owning from two rabbits all the way up to forty-five at times. Rabbits are sweet, loving pets that are full of gut-spa and spunkiness! But, what does your pet rabbit ultimately need and want from you?
Bunnies are fuzzy, cute, and just plain irresistible! So when your heart is melting from the adorable big brown eyes staring lovingly up at you and all you want to do is pick her up and squeeze her till your satisfied, take a moment and think about what your bunny really wants!
Ask yourself four questions.
- Does my bunny want to be picked up?
- How do I pick my bunny up?
- How do I flip my bunny over?
- How do I put my bunny back in the cage?
1. Does my bunny want to be picked up?
For many rabbits this question will make their hearts race, their noses start to fly like a hummingbirds wings, and their eyes bulge out of their heads. A rabbit does not want to be picked up. Imagine your chewing away on some yummy hay, minding your own business, enjoying the bliss of the protection of your cage, when suddenly you hear the sharp banging sound of the cage door screeching open. Two large hands coming down towards you to ruin your alfalfa buffet. It sounds like a rabbits nightmare.
Getting your rabbit to enjoy or rather tolerate you picking them up takes time and dedication. Everyday you should be taking your bunny out of its cage, this lessens the fear-factor and gives you the confidence to pick up your rabbit correctly.
2. How do I pick up my bunny?
First, open the cage door as gently and as quietly as possible. Gently pet your bunny letting it know your not there to harm it. Place one hand on the rabbits rump and one hand lightly on its shoulders, then slide your bunny into a position facing the open door. Carefully slide one hand underneath her belly while resting a firm hand on her rump. Lift up gently careful not to catch her nails on the cage. Bring her slowly yet firmly onto your chest. When placing her down, always set her rump down first, so that she doesn't have control of her front legs.
- Remember to never "scruff" a bunny, the skin on the neck is very delicate.
- Never pick up a bunny by the ears!
- Holding a bunny in this way is very harmful!
3. How do I flip my bunny over?
Some of you may be asking "WHAT?!! Flip it over?!!" Yes it sounds scary, but as a rabbit owner learning how to flip your bunny onto its back is a necessity. You may want to bring your bunny to a vet to properly learn how to flip your bunny over. Flipping your bunny over, has many advantages if you do it correctly. It gives you the opportunity to clip your own bunnies toenails, check for abscesses, check its teeth for proper teeth placement, as well as to properly put on a walking halter.
1. Place bunny on a table with a carpeted or blanketed surface for comfort
2. Turn your bunny gently to the side, its head facing the left if you are right handed.
3. Place your index finger and middle finger between her ears, the other fingers resting on the side of her ears firmly (be careful to be gentle)
4. Place left hand around bunny to support her rump firmly
5. Gently use your fingers around the ears to support the head (do not pick her up by ears), support her rump and flip her over on to her back, then slide her long ways in front of you.
This may take a few time to get her to flip over, she may not want to. Keep practicing, if she wants to jump away let her do it, do not force her, if she is jerking you don't want to hurt her. Eventually with enough practice after three or four times your bunny should be more comfortable with you flipping her over!
Before you try this at home, consult a vet to practice with you!
4. How to put my bunny back in the cage?
Pick up your bunny by using step one. Have the cage door open so it is easy to place your rabbit in the cage. Take your rabbit and place its head in the nook of your arm so it cannot see you are putting it back in the cage, this keeps your bunny calm and less risk of scratching and jumping. As always place her rump in the cage first, this way she can't see where you are putting her. Gently with your other hand under her belly place her completely in the cage.
By using these steps you and your bunny will be able to have a safe and effective handling experience! Remember to always keep your pets best interest in mind! I know they are cute but no one wants to be snuggled in body heat to long!