c.Holding Your Bunny
In general, rabbits don’t like to be held. When they get picked up, their instinct tells them that they are about to be eaten, and they get understandably frightened. However, you and your rabbit are in a relationship, and your desires are important, too, so learn how to hold your rabbit safely, and do so every now and then because it’s so wonderful! Usually though, think of his needs first and interact with your bunny on his level (on the floor!). Find a chair with low or no legs or sit on the floor while you watch TV, read the paper, or do your homework. For the occasions when you do pick him up, follow these guidelines:
- Do you see the C-shaped curve that your bunny’s spine makes when he’s sitting? It’s very important to keep that C-shape when holding your rabbit. If he straightens out his spine and kicks with his powerful hind legs, he can break his back. Not a good thing.
- Always support his bottom. This is where most of his weight is, and it should never hang free. Never, ever pick him up by his ears or his scruff, and NEVER drop him!!!
- Rabbits can see almost 360 degrees, but they can’t see right in front of their noses, so bring your hand down to him from above rather than from in front of him so that you don’t startle him. Put your hand on his head gently but firmly, and stay there until he relaxes. To lift him, put the palm of one hand over his tail, resting your forearm along the side of his body. Slide your other hand under his forelegs, and scoop him into your chest. Let him rest his feet against your body and tuck his head under your chin.
- You can put your thumb and index finger on either side of his neck, above his shoulders, which will prevent him from launching himself over your back. Note that you are not squeezing his neck at all; any pressure is downwards onto the shoulders, not inwards onto the neck. You can see this more easily if you try it with another person: put your hands on each shoulder, but not touching the neck. See how he can’t jump up while your hands are there? It’s the same idea with your bunny.
- If your rabbit struggles or if you’re afraid you’re going to drop him, get as close to the ground as you can and let him go. If you drop him, he can break his back, and it’s much easier to catch him again than deal with a paralyzed rabbit.
- To set him down, get him as close to the ground as you can and set him down butt first. If he goes head first, he’s likely to try to jump out of your hands.