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Safely Handling A Rabbit

How can a skittish rabbit learn that it’s safe to be picked up?

By Caroline Charland
Posted: April 13, 2011, 5 a.m. EDT

Q: I have a Lionhead rabbit, and he just doesn’t want to be picked up; he only wants to be in his cage. I believe that he is bored in his cage, and I want to be with him and build a relationship with him, but when I try to pick him up, he nips at me and jumps right out of my hands. Please help me and my little buddy. What should I do?
 
A: First of all, it is important to have him neutered. Rabbits tend to be a lot easier to pick up and hold when they are spayed or neutered. It is also important to know how to pick up and hold your rabbit. If a rabbit doesn’t feel safe and secure, it will struggle to get back down on the ground. Be sure to pick up you rabbit by supporting the chest and bottom and hold him against you for added comfort. 
 
Also, if a rabbit is living in a cage that is too small, it becomes very protective of it and doesn’t want anyone else in its home. If you replace the cage with an exercise pen, you give your rabbit a large space to live in and a place where you can sit with him to get to know each other.

When shy rabbits come to our rabbit rescue, we sit in a pen with them and talk to them. We wait for them to come up to us. They always do.

When a rabbit approaches you, then you can start stroking its head and talking to it in a soft voice. You can also offer your rabbit small, healthy treats so he knows you mean no harm and are a friend to him.

See more rabbit questions and answers>>

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