How should you handle a rabbit?
Rabbits are prey animals and therefore do not like to be picked up. Being off the ground off their feet is a scary position for them, and understanding that, can help you through the process of understanding how to handle your rabbit.
Why do you need to handle your rabbit?
It's a good idea to check over your bunny at least once a week so you can ascertain if they are having any medical issues you should be aware of, but also if your bunny needs grooming, then it is essential you can pick them up to place them on your grooming table. We check our bunny's ears for dirt spots that might be mites or an ear infection. We check their mouth to see if their front teeth are growing too long and might need a dental from the vet. Then we also give a pet around their body to check for lumps and bumps. Lastly, we check the feet to see if they need a nail trim and to ensure they don't have sores developing which is something called bumblefoot. If you see anything concerning, reach out to your bunny-savvy vet for an appointment.
Picking up a bunny
When you pick up a rabbit. You should always ensure their back and hind quarters is supported. Then gently, but firmly hold them to your body so that they feel secure. If your rabbit is scared, they may kick out their back legs and that can lead to back problems.
Training your bunny to be picked up
If you have never picked up a rabbit, your best bet is to gain your rabbit's trust first. Interact with them on the floor. Offer a hand out to pet just their forehead. You can also provide fresh leafy greens as a treat.
After you are able to pet their forehead, move your hand to pet their body from forehead to bum. When they don't flinch, you can move to the next step.
Start with their forehead, then to the body, then place hands on either side of their body with gentle pressure, but don't lift the bunny just yet. Just get them used to the motion.
Afterward, give lots of head pets. When you can place gentle pressure using both hands, and they don't react, then your next step is to start with head pets, go down their body, and then gently pick them up just until their feet aren't touching the ground. Then give head pets.
Keep up this process until you are able to pick up the rabbit and place them in your lap. Give head pets. Then your next step is to pick them up when you are standing, bring them close to your chest. Give them head pets and immediately place them back down.
This process may take a few days to a week, depending on your rabbit's personality. Doing it early in your relationship with the bunny will help ensure the health and happiness of your rabbit.