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Topic: Help! Your rabbits like to be held/picked up?
Message: Posted by: itsmagic (Jun 13, 2004 02:26PM)
I have four rabbits. Two are approximately 5 months old, and the other two about 3 months old. I love them very much and love playing with them, feeding them, and petting them.

Only problem is, they hate to be picked up. I've gotten sooo many scratches on both arms, abdomen, chest, and hands that it's making me think, how am I ever gonna be able to put these bunnies in a show. They will not sit still and there would be a lot of liability should the rabbits scratch a child.

I've searched the Magiccafe, the internet, and books for reference on how to properly pick up a bunny, but it still hasn't helped. I tried putting one hand beneath their chest, and scooping their bottom up while supporting their hind legs. I've tried pulling them up from the back of their necks grabbing at the loose skin while supporting their rear and bottom with the other hand. Most times, I try to pick them up slowly, but on occasions I would have to do it quickly since they would try and scramble away.

Once I get them up, I use one arm to support them and wrap the other arm around them, pressing them against my belly so they would feel secure and safe. Then I give them lotsa petting, even rewarding them with carrots. Sometimes they will stay still, most of the time they squirm around wanting to get off.

Now comes the most challenging part, putting them down. I always support their bottom and hind legs with one hand while holding their chest with the other, then SLOWLY lower them down. I've tried covering their eyes, or even lowering them backwards, but it's all futile. They always kick, twist, and writher profusely resulting in more scratches for me.

How do you guys do it? I know bunnies naturally don't like to be picked up. So how do you train your bunnies to be STILL? How do you pick up your bunnies? Is it in the training or is it in the rabbit's genes? Are some bunnies calmer and tamer than others?

All of my bunnies are dwarfs. Four of them are mixes and one is a Netherland Dwarf. The youngest is the Netherland Dwarf. She seems to have the calmest disposition. She is also the smallest and easiest to pick up. When she gets bigger, I fear picking her up and putting her down will be more of a challenge.

Message: Posted by: Rupert Bair (Jun 13, 2004 02:49PM)
My bunny is 3 and is like that I always get minor scraches, as soon as you pick him up put him on your chest and he should be fine.
Message: Posted by: Decomposed (Jun 13, 2004 03:06PM)
Small dark places are the way to go. Once you "prop" them, they should be still. My dwarf always runs from me when I approach his cage. I push his head down and then just scoop him up.
Message: Posted by: Danny Diamond (Jun 14, 2004 03:48PM)
My bunny runs from me when she is out of her cage, only because she knows that when she gets picked up, she is probably being put back into her cage. Like Matt said, once held against your chest, the bunny should calm down.

Also, it is very important to support your bunny from below while picking it up. I think it makes them feel more secure. And as I apporach my bunny, I don't just grab her, I gently pet her on her head a few times before I pick her up. I usually pick her up with one hand reaching under her belly area toward the front of her body, and the other hand sneaking under to support her bottom. She stays nice and calm this way. If she feels uncomfortable or like she is going to fall from my hands, she will scratch, trying to keep herself from falling.
Message: Posted by: magicjackct (Jun 14, 2004 04:12PM)
The bunny I use now is great anyone can pick him up and he is fine. People always comment on how well he is with the kids after the shows.
The rabbit I had before him was always aweful. He would not only scratch but also bite anyone trying to hold or pet him, including myself.
I think they all just have their own personalities.

Message: Posted by: itsmagic (Jun 15, 2004 01:39AM)
Thanks guys, I appreciate your input.

Magicjacket, seems like you are lucky w/a real calm bunny. How did you get such a rabbit? Did you go through a breeder? What type of rabbit is it? How old when you got the bunny?

Message: Posted by: magicmike001 (Jun 16, 2004 06:58PM)
My Bunny used to be bad running around scraching, but I held in hand against my chest like for 20 mins a few times a day and gave treats. Soon enough it would come to me.
Message: Posted by: magicjackct (Jun 17, 2004 04:03PM)
Itsmagic, believe it or not I got him at a pet store on a last minute ditch effort to replace the one I had before him. As bad as the other one was he would always come to the edge of his cage to see me when I would walk by. Well the morning of a show I was walking by to iron my shirt and he didn't budge. I was like " you lazy little ****" , so I walked over to see him and he was dead. How or why, I have no idea. But the new one was just a cute little baby at the pet shop, and he's been great since day one.
I say pure luck of the draw.

Message: Posted by: J.S.llusionDesigns (Jun 18, 2004 06:53PM)
You might try to give him a treat when you are holding him to calm to help calm him down.

You might also try to find a rabbit that does not try to get away when you hold it when you buy one. BEcuase calmer bunnys work better for magic.
Message: Posted by: Tom James (Jun 18, 2004 10:51PM)
I feel your pain. I have the same problem with my bunny. she runs somtimes when I try to pick her up but it is not that bad. I hope with time she will get better. So good luck.

Message: Posted by: RS Magic(NL) (Jun 19, 2004 05:56PM)

It is the normal nature of rabbits that they do not liked to picked up.
the reason is that they are afraid of hight!

every rabit has this,...only it depends on caracter if the rabit bite, scratch or "freese"
When the rabit is still in your arm we human think that rabits is calm and relex,....NOT! You can see there eyes and hear there breath,....they are not calm!

What can you do?
let the rabit walk free in house and give only "rabit threat" on you leg (you have to sit on the floor) after couple of day's you can sit in a chair and mostly the rabbit jumps on it when you have the candy.

then train your rabit thet he/she must go higher to get his/her candy. (on top of chair,...then on your magic table, etc)

It works!!
When you pick the rabit up, place the rabbit directly on the floor or in cage,....with this the rabit trust you that when he/she is "to high" you help him/her!
1 importent rule!
Do not let fall him/her out of your arm, even when rabit bites or sctatch!! when you drop the rabit (by accident) rabit do not forget this whole live!!!

I hope this helps and that you understand my bad english.

Richard Stooker
The Netherlands
Message: Posted by: itsmagic (Jun 20, 2004 09:40PM)
The bunnies climb on my lap looking for treats while I'm sitting on the floor. I'll try the idea of raising the height in order for them to get their treats.

"1 importent rule!
Do not let fall him/her out of your arm, even when rabit bites or sctatch!! when you drop the rabit (by accident) rabit do not forget this whole live!!!"

Crap I'm screwed with 3 out of my 4 bunnies. They have fallen or I haved dropped them when their scratches become furious and aggressive.

Dang, Magicjackct, you found your rabbit dead in the cage? What a bummer. So far I've been lucky with my four rabbits. They seem to be healthy with lotsa energy. Too much energy. I just need some calm, lazy bunnies that children can pet.
Message: Posted by: boltt223 (Jun 21, 2004 11:23PM)
I guess I am one of the lucky ones. My rabbit not only likes to be picked up but loves to lay on his back in my arms. Every time I approach his cage he just waits for me to reach in and take him out. He is very loveing and is real good with children although I don't allow any audience members to hold him. They can pet him but that's it.

Message: Posted by: Decomposed (Jun 22, 2004 08:12PM)
"It is the normal nature of rabbits that they do not liked to picked up. The reason is that they are afraid of hight!"

You said it, when I can get my rabbit to act like my loving pet yorkie dog, I will stop doing my whole magic routine and just bring him to the show:)

Right now I just use "Cheddar" for production and to pick a card.

My nickel:)

Message: Posted by: whitelephant (Jun 23, 2004 02:41PM)
When we got our second bunny (2 weeks ago) I insisted on carring her home in a backpack worn backwords. When I pick her up I hold her in my T-shirt as a pouch- it makes a dark bag like experience that she really seems to enjoy.

They, Sid and Allie, both live with us and aren't part of any shows planned in the near future. Now we just gotta get her in the litter box.
Message: Posted by: Regan (Jun 24, 2004 12:50PM)
I have owned 7 netherland dwarf bunnies during my magic career. Some are more difficult to handle than others. They are jittery creatures by nature. The 3 I currently have are pretty calm. You must work with them some to "tame" them and underneath support is a must when you pick them up. Don't leave their hind feet unsupported. Even with perfect handling you will sometimes get a kicking bunny that may scratch. Keep their nails clipped regularly. It's good for you and the bunny. Clipping the nails also helps the bunny get used to being held. (Mine lies on their back while resting on my arm)
Message: Posted by: mystic mickey (Jul 2, 2004 01:23AM)
On 2004-06-13 15:49, magic_matt wrote:
My bunny is 3 and is like that I always get minor scraches, as soon as you pick him up put him on your chest and he should be fine.
Message: Posted by: rossmacrae (Jul 2, 2004 10:12PM)
Clue: "I lower him slowly..."

The rabbit wants to actually GET down once he knows that's where he's going.

I find that rabbits have about a 2-5 second delay before they figure out what's happening. Whenever one of mine is getting lowered into the "magic box" or anywhere else (except "home territory," his cage) it takes him a couple of seconds before he figures out it's time to start kicking so I'll finish putting him down. I get less time when lowering him into his cage. By contrast, on occasion when he's had his travel cage knocked over or he's wiggled out of my assistant's grasp, it takes him maybe 3-4 seconds to figure out "You know, I COULD take off running..." And if I just grab him before his tiny mind clears, what could have been a grand escape never gets started.

So lowering him slowly is not the problem - he wants to get where he wants to be, and a brisk lowering might suit him better.
Message: Posted by: MagicbyCarlo (Jul 14, 2004 10:05PM)
Rabbits. First of all find a good breeder of Polish rabbits. I mean a good breeder. NEVER buy your rabbit from a pet store or casual breeder. Check online with house and show rabbit associations. These dwarf rabbits are often bred for even temperament and are show rabbits versus meat rabbits or pets. Remember that the smaller the breed the twitchier they can be. Polish is, from all of my research, the least twitchy of the dwarf breeds. That is not to say that you canít find a bunny of any breed that has a good temperament or a Polish that has a bad temperament. Ask to see the parents and handle them, if they are compliant chances are their litter will manifest the same traits. Expect to pay $20-$40 for your bunny especially if it comes from show stock. Buster (my working rabbit. Yes, I have two and the first one although avery loving pet, is to much to handle)even has papers. :lol:

Lops can also be pretty docile.

It is not heights that a rabbit fears, it is being picked up. They are prey animals and are very low on the food chain. Ending up in the grasp of a larger animal is an instinctual danger. It usually means that they are about to be eaten. Gaining the rabbits trust by making them a pet can partially solve the problem, but when youíre a rabbit, trust is fleeting. If the animal learns from an early age, usually 8 weeks, that fighting the holder doesn't get them down the will succumb and accept being held. You must hold your rabbit EVERY day for as long as you can. But remember they will never really like it. Itís more like they give up fighting it. Once they learn that fighting gets them free, you may as well just accept the animal as a pet, or find it a good home.

When you pick up a rabbit support is critical. I pick up Buster under his chest, behind his front legs and under his hindquarters with a firm support. This seems to be the most acceptable way to transfer him in or out of the production or into a secure position against my body. This doesnít mean he likes being picked up; it just means he knows the fighting wonít work so he is compliant. Some rabbits give in easier than others, donít waste you time with a fighter. Most times neutering the animal will help calm them down. Find a GOOD veterinarian with experience in working with rabbits. The wrong veterinarian can be fatal for your poor bunny, trust me on this. Rather than rail on endlessly check out the sites listed below. They are two very good resources on rabbits.


This one is a hoot if you live with rabbits as pets or assistants.


Hope this helps.
Message: Posted by: Doug Higley (Jul 15, 2004 12:01PM)
If you MUST have a rabbit in your act you can avoid all the above problems by making a little pair of rabbit 'ears' out of felt and putting them on a Dove.
Looks cute too!


Message: Posted by: Regan (Jul 16, 2004 05:30PM)
Yeah, but flying rabbits might scare the kids.
Message: Posted by: itsmagic (Jul 18, 2004 02:38PM)
Hahahaa...that's funny, but not a bad idea. Hhhhmmm....
Message: Posted by: Regan (Jul 18, 2004 04:53PM)
What's not a bad idea, flying rabbits or scareing the kids? LOL
Just kidding.
Doug does a neat idea with the ears on the dove. Are you serious Doug, or are you joking? I'm just wondering if it can really be done and if you have tried it. I might be interested in that.

Message: Posted by: Doug Higley (Jul 18, 2004 10:12PM)
Did it years ago...very easy to do...and you can do it probably MUCH better than I did it. I just cut out a pair of rabbit ears from a white piece of felt...kind of shaded in a bit of light pink in the center. I cut them out so that they also formed a thin STRAP and I used a little piece of scotch tape under the 'chin' and a very tiny piece of double sided right under the ears...it would just stick enough to the feathers not to fall off but also not really stick to hurt the feathers...looked kind cute...actually looked kinda stupid...but that was the point. What ever production method you use...that particular dove can't be scrunched to tight...but he is a sight on the perch so bring him on early.