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Tips on learning

how to Handle

a Pet Rabbit

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How to Safely Pick up a Rabbit so no one gets hurt

No doubt you have picked up and handled many types of pets,
so you may think it can't be any different to pick up a
rabbit. But you would be wrong. Remember that rabbits are
prey animals and so if you pick them up by the back or the
nape of their neck they have an instinctive flight response,
as that is the way their predators grab them.

Added to that is the fact that rabbits have very fragile
backbones, they sometimes even dislocate, fracture or break
their own spines if they are picked up with their bottom
halves dangling and begin to kick in fear. A broken back
results in paralysis and eventual euthanasia, so this is a
pretty important issue for pet rabbit owners.

To safely pick up a rabbit, start by being very calm and
soft-spoken yourself. If you are nervous or frightened the
rabbit will feel it and become nervous and frightened

Try to approach the rabbit so that it can see you well.
Rabbits are not comfortable with being grabbed from behind,
of course, and although their eyes are positioned so that
they can see all the way around and behind them, a rabbit
can't see directly in front of its nose. So a front left or
front right approach is best.

There are several recommended methods of holding a rabbit,
but all include supporting the rabbit carefully without
grasping it hard, and holding it close to your body. Our
favorite method is to slide one hand under the rabbit's
chest with the fingers of that hand holding the front legs
between them and supporting the chest well. Then the other
hand works gently under the rabbit's hindquarters for good
support as the rabbit is picked up. Once you are upright,
pull the rabbit to your body and hold it in a hold similar
to the way a quarterback holds a football. This is basically
the same way you hold a cat.

If the rabbit isn't familiar with you and well-tamed, it may
struggle as you begin to pick it up. If it begins to
struggle wildly, let it go immediately and give it time to
calm down (a snack may help) before trying to pick it up
again. Try to never overpower your rabbit; it causes the
animal to panic.

If the rabbit is nervous or restless, light stroking and/or
covering the eyes can make the rabbit almost go into a
trance and sit calmly as you hold it.

Never pick up even a very young rabbit by the nape of its
neck or by its ears. It is okay to restrain an adult rabbit
by grasping the loose skin on its nape, but only if you are
actually supporting the rabbit from below with your other
hand, or if the rabbit is sitting on a solid surface.

If you are afraid of the claws but you must move your
rabbit, wrap the rabbit with a towel so that its feet are
inside the towel before you pick it up. Later, spend time
with the rabbit so that you and it trust each other and you
are no longer nervous with it.

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