My bunny always scratches me when I pick her up. How do I make her 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 him up to get him in and out of his pen or cage, please invest in another type of pen or cage. 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 that. 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 your rabbit up, there are several options. The simplest way is to protect yourself with long sleeves and gloves when handling your rabbit. Another option is the popular bunny burrito. In this instance, you would wrap your bunny in a blanket or towel when picking him up and hold his legs close to his body so that he is unable to kick out.
Another concern is proper bunny handling. You should be properly supporting your rabbit so that he feels as secure and safe as he can while being picked up. This means holding him against your chest or snuggled in your arm with contact all along his body.
My rabbit never lets me pick her 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 him 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 it up slowly. When you carefully set it down, give it a treat as a reward.
- Wrap a towel around the bunny to give more tactile support if it thinks it is 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 it jump out of your arms. One way is to get to the floor on your knees, and then slide it down your body to the floor. This way the rabbit will have your hands and body touching it the whole way down to the floor, and this may help it 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.