My bunny always scratches me when I pick them up. How do I make them stop?
Most rabbits do not enjoy and fight at being picked up due to a lack of handling while growing up. Rabbits are prey animals and associate their feet off the ground with being eaten. If you need to pick your rabbit up to get them in and out of their pen or cage, please invest in another type of pen or cage so that your rabbit can hop in and out of their own volition. Take a look at Housing for more information. However, it is important to have a rabbit that is able to tolerate being handled in an emergency and for vital care, so it is still a good idea to do some training for such circumstances. See Handling for more information. Over time, your rabbit may even learn to enjoy handling.
But to answer the real question, to protect yourself from scratches when picking up your rabbit, there are several options. The simplest way is to protect yourself is with long sleeves and gloves when handling your rabbit. Another option is the popular bunny burrito where you would wrap your bunny in a blanket or towel when picking them up and hold their legs close to their body so that they are unable to kick out.
Another concern is proper bunny handling. You should be properly supporting your rabbit so that they feels as secure and safe as they can while being picked up. This means holding him against your chest or snuggled in your arm with contact all along their body.
My rabbit never lets me pick them up. How can I do so?
Similar to the above question, try not to pick up your bunny unless there is a direct need for it if your rabbit does not enjoy handling. Make sure you are on good terms with the bunny first before you try to pick them up, otherwise, you may have a bunny that will never trust you. We would recommend that you follow a gradual procedure as lined out in our Handling article to teach your rabbit to get used to handling, but in the case that you don't have time to slowly teach tolerance, below are some tips to handle a rabbit's struggling.
- Cover the bunny's eyes and pick them up slowly. When you carefully set the rabbit down, give them a treat as a reward to associate the handling with a positive interaction.
- Wrap a towel around the bunny to give more tactile support if they thinks they are going to fall.
- Don't show hesitation in scooping the rabbit up. If you are not sure, the bunny can tell and will consequently also be uneasy about the situation.
- Make sure you are carefully setting the bunny down, and do not let them jump out of your arms. One way is to get to the floor on your knees, and then slide them down your body to the floor. This way the rabbit will have your hands and body touching them the whole way down to the floor, and this may help them feel more secure. Another option is to set the bunny in a box or basket first and then carefully placing the container on the floor.
How do I catch my rabbit to put them in a carrier?
Many rabbits will run and hide at the first sign of a carrier. A few tips to make the process easier:
- Leave the carrier with the door open in your rabbit's area to acclimate them to it.
- Block off all hiding spots.
- Use a small exercise pen to pen them off and corner them with an open carrier.
- Use a large piece of cardboard as a herding tool to assist in cornering them with an open carrier.
- Throw a large towel or bedsheet over the rabbit and quickly burrito them to stuff them in a carrier.
- Gently follow the rabbit around and pet them on the head to make them submit and easier to handle.
We would highly recommend getting a two-door carrier that you can load rabbits from the top to make the process easier.