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Good Bunny, Bad Bunny: Basic Bunny Grooming

Updated on October 25, 2008

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.

Trimming Nails

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

Back to Contents: Good Bunny, Bad Bunny


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    • profile image

      Aleah 7 years ago

      don't forget the old towel trick! By wrapping your little friend in a towel or blanket while you do the nails, it can help prevent you from getting scratched and in many cases, calms the bunny down as well.

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      Brad 7 years ago

      Well, it is never an easy process but I've found the easist way is to put your pet in a transe. You simple sit on the floor woth your legs stretched out and place you bun on your legs. Make sure his/her head is about where you knees are and make sure the bunnies head is at a lower elevation then the bunnies bottom. Rub they're head and they should go into a transe. It is more relaxing for you and your bun and it it a very easy process. - Brad.

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      Jenny Rabbit 7 years ago

      I was in the store the other day in the pet section and saw that rough sandpaper like paper for birds. i was wondering if i put some on the ramp in my buns cage if that would wear down their nails naturally? just wondering if anyone has tried it or if anyone has any good reasons not to try it. I think it sounds reasonable to me....should work....right well guess well see cuz i think im gonna get some and try it.

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      Jen 8 years ago

      I've trimmed my bun's nails a few times, and it's easier to do so in a small bathroom where the bunny cannot run because that is what they will do. I actually asked my boyfriend to hold her for me the first few times so I could get better access. It shouldn't hurt the bunny if you make sure not to trim at the quick. The quick is the blood vessel, and you can tell where it is because it's the red or burgandy part of the nail. If you stay away from the quick, you're fine. All rabbits are scared of this process, so be as calm as possible. Pet her often and offer treats, give her breaks during the process because she will need them and so will you at the beginning.

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      georgia 8 years ago

      my rabbits hates being goom they run away. they are sheading realy bad. what should i do? help me

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      Jacklyn 8 years ago

      how do I trim my bunies nail without hurting her?

    • LyndseyLou profile image

      LyndseyLou 8 years ago

      I have always taken her to the vet to do this, but I no longer have a job and can't afford it. I am really nervous to trim her nails on my own because whenever I try to pet her she "growls" and claws at me. How can I make this as painless as possible for her and without making her hate me even more?