Rabbits are very cute, soft and furry creatures and anyone who owns a pet rabbit would love to cuddle and play with them. Cuddling a pet rabbit can be very relaxing, it helps soothe your bunny and even helps you bond with your pet. However, it might interest you to know that you may have been doing it the wrong way as there is the right and wrong way of picking up your rabbit and cuddling it.
If you are a rabbit lover, a new pet rabbit owner or you have owned a pet rabbit for some time now, and you often wonder if you are picking up or cuddling your bunny the right way without causing them any discomfort or startling them, please read on.
How to Handle your pet rabbit
- Pick up your pet rabbit gently.
- Introduce your pet rabbit to cuddling early.
- Stroke the right areas.
- Put your rabbit down gently.
Below we go in-depth on how to handle your pet rabbit when cuddling and picking them up.
Always pick up your pet rabbit gently
Rabbits are naturally curious animals and it is important to get them accustomed to human contact early on so they do not see people as a threat and run away at the sight of a human.
Rabbits are fragile and they do startle easily especially when they are in a new environment. When you move to pick up your rabbit, approach from above your rabbit or behind them and go quietly and move gently so you do not scare them away. Avoid making loud noises or rushing at them because this can scare them and make them averse to human contact. Pick up your bunny at ground level so they do not feel disoriented or fall from your grasp if you fail to pick them up the right way at first. Bend to the ground and slowly pick up your pet rabbit before settling its face in the crook of your arm so they feel more relaxed as you stroke their fur.
Introduce your pet rabbit to cuddling early
Young rabbits are more likely to be picked up easily as they are smaller and less heavy. Getting your rabbits used to being picked up as young as possible will also help them get accustomed to human contact and even make them anticipate bonding time. Adult rabbits who have never been picked up may be more wary of human contact and it will take more time to gain their trust before being able to cuddle them.
Stroke the right areas
Most rabbits enjoy being cuddled by humans and most of them are accepting of cuddles when done the right way. It is good to let your rabbit initiate the cuddle session by sitting on the ground and waiting for them to come to you or sit in your lap. Rabbits like to be gently stroked on their backs and foreheads. Run your hands in their direction their hair grows or run a brush along the entire body of your rabbit. Some rabbits like to have their ears gently scratched while others do not. It is important to take note of the areas your pet rabbit likes being touched so that you stick to petting them in those areas and avoid stressing them by touching areas like the whiskers and under their chins.
Put your rabbit down gently
After successfully picking up and cuddling your pet rabbit, make sure that you put them down properly. Your pet rabbit may try to jump out of your arms when you release them so before letting go of your rabbit, kneel or bend down slowly and gently set them back on the floor. You can also let them hop out of your arms harmlessly when you kneel down as you are close to the ground and your rabbit hopping out of your arms at this point will not harm them.
Practice safety measures when handling your pet rabbit
Practicing safety measures is also quite important when picking up your pet rabbit. You do not want to hurt your rabbit or harm than when you pick them up so you need to be safe as you handle them.
- Do not use force when holding your pet rabbit, you might squeeze them too hard or grip them if they struggle and put undue pressure their fragile organs. Their spines are also fragile and can get damaged easily if you use too much force when cuddling your rabbit.
- Use your hand to support their hindquarters securely so they are less likely to slip out of your grip and fall.
- Do not pick up your rabbits by their long ears, this can be tempting for children especially because they don´t know better. Always keep a close eye on children as they pick up rabbits so they do not grab them by their ears. This can be very painful and cause injuries on your pet rabbit.
- When picking up your rabbit, place your hand under its front feet and gently pick it up. Rest most of its weight on its hindquarters and hold it close to your body so it does wiggle out of your grasp or attempt to climb over your shoulder.
- Do not place your rabbit on slippery and cold surfaces like wet floor or tiles. You can place a towel on the ground before placing your rabbit securely on top of the towel.
These tips will help guide you on making cuddling and bonding with your pet rabbit an enjoyable experience for both pet and human. Here are some additional things you should know about handling your pet rabbit.
- Do not harass your pet rabbit for cuddles when they are asleep or eating. The best time to play with your pet is in the mornings or afternoon when they are more alert and active.
- Avoid forcing your rabbit to be cuddled, take note of their body language so you know when they have had enough or have become tired. When your rabbit is done cuddling set them down or let them walk away free if you are seated on the ground.
- Contact your veterinarian if you notice any strange behavior or injuries on your pet rabbit that could be stopping you from cuddling them or picking them up.
- For rabbits that are skittish and have not settled into being around humans, wrap them up in a towel when you pick them up to avoid being scratched and make them feel more secure.