Handling Your Bunny
HANDLE WITH CARE!!!
This is Flopsy. He's an old soul. He's also an old 7 years because he was kept in an outdoor hutch his entire life with nothing to his name but the name itself. He had no toys, nothing for comfort or protection from the elements, and no contact with humans. He wasn't a pet, he was a prisoner. He had four surgical procedures before I adopted him from the rescue, and he's flatfooted from having nothing to protect him from the wire bottom of his outside cage, which caused hock sores that get all the way into the bone. He's very affectionate, happy, and snuggly. He's also very fragile.
Rabbits are very delicate creatures, prone to injury from improper handling. They are prey animals, very different from dogs and cats, so they are built for speed (to out-run and out-turn predators) - this means high muscle mass and low skeletal (bone) mass. This combination means a rabbit has the strength to break its own bones when struggling. You risk serious injury to your rabbit if you handle it improperly, or if you try too hard to restrain it when it really wants to be released, so please learn how.
Because rabbits are prey animals, they feel much more secure when their feet are on the ground. Some rabbits may like to be held, but most prefer to sit next to you when you are giving them attention. Also because they are prey animals, they instinctively run from anything that scares them, which can include sudden movements. Sometimes something as simple as moving more slowly around your bunny will help him trust you more.
A lot of times, with a timid bunny, the best way to work on trust is to lay on the floor so you're at the same level, and allow the bunny to approach you. You are much less threatening when you are laying down.
Please note: if your bunny doesn't get a lot of exercise, his muscles will atrophy and his bones will become weaker - this can lead to life-threatening injuries from even the slightest mishandling. Please make sure you allow your bunny plenty of exercise time!! If you keep your bunny caged all day long, not only will it threaten the integrity of his skeletal structure, it will also lead to other problems such as the build-up of calcium in internal organs and the weakening of the immune system. It is imperative that you allow your bunny several hours every day to exercise and do what is natural - run around, jump, hop up and down, and many other entertaining displays of freedom and pleasure. This will lead the way to a happy relationship between you and your rabbit master (get used to the idea - rabbits will rule, even over dogs and cats - humans are just some strange furless rabbit that walks on only two feet, and they will treat you as such - as soon as you embrace this idea, you will be able to truly appreciate the wonderful nature of your bunny!)
Some things to remember when handling your bunny:
Introducing Cocoa and Brownie, my twins. Two servings of fur-coated sweet potato casserole with squish stuffing. They're not fat, they just look like deflated basketballs when they let it all hang out. They are my deflated basketballs.
This gives you a better idea of just how pudgy they look.
The House Rabbit Society's article on lifting your rabbit with photos to guide you through it.
TalkToTheVet.com's article on handling rabbits and avoiding injury.
Short article on cooperative entry and egress for cage maintenance.
Short article on putting your bunny into a trance.
The House Rabbit Society's FAQ on handling your rabbit.
Good article on TTouch massage