How often should I handle my bunny? and other newbie questions...

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Aug 11, 2011
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Kakabeka Falls, Ontario, Canada
I have had Minnow the Holland Lop for three weeks now. He is 1.5 years old. He will sometimes jump up on the couch and hang out with my husband and myself. I pick him up for snuggling at least once per day. He was stuggling and kicking pretty bad but has gotten better.

He seems to have no fear of dogs and will jump up on both of my laying or sleeping dogs (and one is a husky:shock:) But I watch them.

But he does not want to stay in my lap too long. What kind of petting do bunnies like? Should I continue to pick him up frequently?

Also is one carrot a day too much for a treat? He has pellets and all the hay he can eat and I give him one full veggie a day.


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Dec 31, 2006
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Calgary, Alberta, Canada
Most rabbits don't really like to be held all that much. However, there are some that tolerate it more and some that really like to be held. Each rabbit is different.
You do need to get them used to being held and handled. This makes is much easier to trim nails, do grooming and check them over if needed, it is also helpful if you do need to see a vet that your rabbit is not trying to kick, scratch and bite.
It is important to not let him down if he struggles, this just teaches him that if he struggles and kicks that he will get down. Only let him down when he is calm.

It is good to pick him up, but try to not do it too much that he gets annoyed by it. You will start to know when he is getting annoyed and end it before he really does and starts to resent getting picked up. You can try just picking him up for a minute and putting him down again and do this once or twice a day. This does get him used to being picked up but nothing happens so it is not bad but not really great either, it is more neutral but on the positive side.

Rabbits tend to like to be pet on the top of the head, between the eyes and along the back. Each is different, so you need to figure out what he likes.

Nancy McClelland

Supporting Member
Jul 1, 2007
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Las Vegas, Nevada, USA
:yeahthat: We've had 2 out of 37 that are lap bunnies. The others come and go as they please. We've handled ours enough that they know if they struggle they will get held longer and not put down til they are calm. Don't let the bunny train you! Ours also have gotten used to having their neck, back, and belly rubbed--took a little time and patience is all.


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Nov 27, 2010
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Michigan, USA
In my one-bunny experience, the handling thing didn't go so well. I did as you are doing now, the once a day pick up. He hated me and wouldn't trust me after I started doing that; he barely came out of his cage when I was around. So I stopped, waited until he was 100% trusting towards me (like I could pet him while he was eating and just bug him randomly and he wouldn't get offended,) and then picked him up randomly a few times each week. Some of the time, it would just be for cuddles and raisins, and other times I would bring out the brush and nail clippers (I only occasionally clipped his nails, but I wanted him to get familiar with them.)
That way, he learned that picking up doesn't necessarily mean carrying, and it also doesn't always mean bad things like nail clipping. (I also learned on here to do the "bad" things in a certain room that he never goes to except to do those things, so he doesn't associate you coming near him as a bad experience, he'll associate the room as one.)
He hates being picked up, still, but he is a cuddle bug now because he still trusts me to handle him with care. I also trained him to go into his carrier on command so in emergencies I just shut the door and carry him off with me.

So if you see that your bunny doesn't want to be near you or is scared when you're around, I would suggest waiting until you're both comfortable with the picking-up process. Otherwise, the others that answered have way more experience and you should listen to them. :biggrin2: I think they DO need to know that being picked up isn't always bad. =)

If you want to have a lap bunny, try bribing him with his favorite treat. I mean, it really comes down to personality, but it sounds like he's kind of there, maybe just not all the way. Bunnies like to be pet by their eyes and on the head. I usually take my thumb and index finger and rub both eyes at once from the front towards the ears.

One carrot a day is a bit much. Carrots have a lot of sugar, and this can cause obesity in the future. I usually only give Cheeto a treat when he does something good, like responding to the word "no" or doing a trick. I used treats a lot when I was training him, and also to get him to like me at first :big wink: but I weaned him off of them after a while, and only give them occasionally.

It sounds like you're doing everything right. Don't worry, I was there almost a year ago. He is just now getting attached to me. It might take a while, but it is SO worth it. =)



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Jan 12, 2010
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*formerly, hotmaildeal, , Brazil
This is a very interesting topic. I don't have a bunny right now but my last bunny and I were always close. In the beginning he didn't care about me but he became my best friend after I gave him a couple of sunflower seeds and managed to pet him for the 1st time ;)

Then it got actually hard to avoid him, he followed me everywhere and jumped on my lap if I was at the computer or any situation in which I wouldn't give him all the attention he wanted. It was really cute! He'd steal my sandals and hide them at his home... I never understood why. First he ran all over the living room carrying them, then hid them. He was all proud, as if the sandals were hunted by him (but rabbits don't hunt!! LOL) And every time he did something naughty he'd act extra cute so I "wouldn't notice" his bad deeds.. lol

Then - only after he passed - someone from a pet shop said we're not supposed to pet or hold/handle rabbits too much, not more than 30 minutes/day because they're too sensitive to temperature (it seems like our hands are too hot for them?). I don't know if that's correct info, as nobody here in this country even knows that a rabbit must eat hay, but that made me wonder if I handled my rabbit too much... On the other hand, he was the one jumping on my lap if I didn't pick him up. In my opinion, if he was sensitive to the temperature, he'd be the first to avoid being close to me.. (?)
He didn't like to be carried for too long, but we never forced him to anything, he was carried/handled for as long as he wanted...

You asked what kind of petting they like - all! My bunny liked mostly to be petted on top of his head and close to his ears. If I didn't pet him, he'd get mad and butt my hand with his head asking me to do it! I also kissed him on top of his head, he seemed to like it. You can pet his back too, with time you'll see rabbits are like cats or dogs, they like to be petted, but first they gotta trust you.

Good luck with your bunny, you should post a pic of him with your dogs, they must all be so cute!!