Usually, you wouldn't find a rabbit off the ground unless they are being held or picked up. Rabbits are prey animals that stay low to the ground and are naturally skittish, so knowing the proper way to hold your bunny is important. It will help to decrease their fear and over time they will grow accustomed to the feeling of being picked up and held.
Remember as you begin to practice holding your bunny that you want to make sure they feel safe and loved. If they don't you'll never be able to get them comfortable with getting picked up and held.
Read through these other tips and you'll be able to bond with your bunny in the best way!
5 Tips for Picking Up and Holding a Rabbit
Get on the same level as your rabbit and begin petting them. Towering over them can scare them and lead to a frightened pet. Try to soothe your rabbit so they are calm. Kneel down to the ground when possible.
When picking up your rabbit to hold against your body, place your hand under their torso. Then place your other hand by their bottom / hips, leaving their feet to dangle. This will help give you control if your rabbit chooses to attempt to leap out of your arms by not allowing them to use your hand as a platform to push off of.
Once your rabbit’s body is against your body, hold your rabbit to resemble how you hold a baby (cradling them). The reason why you need to use both hands is to allow the rabbit to feel safe. Making sure your rabbit is safe is essential for holding a bunny correctly.
When setting your rabbit down, it is important to remember that it will try to jump out of your arms the second it sees an opportunity. So make sure that you place their hind legs down first and keep a tight grip on your rabbit until they are securely on the ground. If you aren't careful, they can fall out of your arms and get seriously injured.
Sometimes, no matter how good you are at picking up rabbits, you will just have an aggressive one. It may be because it’s a rabbit isn't spayed/neutered or it's a nervous rabbit acting out. Female rabbits that aren't neutered can be extremely territorial, you can solve this by getting them neutered.
Nervous rabbits are a common occurrence until you help raise their confidence in being picked up or carried. Knowing how to pick up a bunny that is nervous is key. This can take some time. Especially if your rabbit has a negative experience with being picked up. If you have a nervous bun, then lift them up an inch off of the floor at a time and use treats for a reward. Don't over reward them though, your bun still needs a healthy diet of at least 80% grass hays!
If your rabbit is either aggressive or nervous, it is recommended that you use a pet carrying case. You can get a top or side loading case. If your bun is having issues with being picked up, then buying the side loading carrying case will be best because they can walk right in.
It is important to introduce the case to your rabbit before you expect them to get in and stay calm. The more you pick up your rabbit, they more likely it will adjust and get used to being held, but use your rabbit as a guide. If it seems stressed, practice again tomorrow.
Remember it Takes Time
Just remember that your bun doesn’t understand that it is okay to be picked up unless they are taught. So stay calm and know that it can take time and training for your pet to adjust to being picked up and not freak out when you try to pick them up. We know that you want to be the best pet parent that you can be, so handle your bun properly and know how to pick them up properly.
Are you new to rabbit care and curious about other rabbit basics that are important to know to keep your little one happy and healthy? Download our Rabbit Starter Kit today and get access to our rabbit term glossary and more!