How to pick up my skiddish rabbit when it's necessary?

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Lemony4

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Hi everyone! I've struggled with this for a while now. I've had my boy for 2 years now and he's very slow to trust. When I got him, the sanctuary said he was picked on quite a lot by other bunnies before he was given to the sanctuary :( so I think this is why he's always been on the skiddish side. I never pick him up when I don't need to, but I do have to brush him once a week when he's heavily shedding. For this i have to pick him up and put him on the table.

He's so terrified of being picked up that if I don't do it quickly he'll easily run away, but I think catching him off guard ruins our trust and he becomes afraid of me. I can no longer trick him into getting into a carrier, he's too smart for that now. And I can't really pet him into a lull like I did with my last bun, because he doesn't usually like being pet still, especially if he can sense your true intentions lol. Anyone have a good solution to this?
 

FuzzyWabbit

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First, pat his head gently. Then slowly put one of your hands under the rabbits neck and the other on the butt. There ya go, you are now carrying the rabbit. Always works for me.
 

john.thorpe1952

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The method I use on my two and on any skittish or nervous ones,is to talk qietly and move slowly,andput my right arm gently round the right side of the body and hold the rump firmly,then secure the front end with the left hand and scoop them up firmly and quickly.You then have them with their head under your arm and their bum under control to stop them jumping.Don't relax too much or they'll sense it and jump,sometimes from a height-and we all know how bad that can be for bones1One of mine,the female,is happy to be picked up under the chest and then brought quickly to your body,but the male hates this and would struggle.The trick is to be firm and efficient-don't dither or they'll pick up on this and struggle.You need to be in control at all times,for their sake.
 

majorv

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It’s easier to pick up a rabbit when they’re in a small area, like a pen, as opposed to a big room. Try sitting on the floor and offer a treat to gain some trust. Pet them when they’re close.
It’s important that your rabbit get used to being handled. Your vet will appreciate it, too.
 

LadyGrey

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I'm just going to try and focus on the subject at hand. This is a low to zero association approach. Wash from your hand to your elbows with some sort of scented lotion. Stay silent the whole duration. Lure him out with a treat then cover with a towel and burrito him. Goal is to not let him see you or the towel coming. Usually when buns be eating they are tunnel versioned on food. This will protect you as well as himself. I'd make sure you cover his eyes so he doesn't associate you with capturing him and the lotion scent should throw him off. Covering the eyes is a method used in wildlife to keep the animal from panicking and to prevent hostility when the animal is released. From there I'd keep him bundled snuggly (so he cant hurt you or him) and work on 1 section of his body at a time. When your done dim the lights, loosen the towel, place him by his favorite place of comfort and get outta there! Wash hands, Return 1min later like it totally wasn't you who did this to him and give the plate of veggies. This was a method I used in animal clinics. The veggies/treats at the end is so he don't stay in a stay prolonged state of fear or shock. Sort of like getting a lollipop after a shot.
 

Happy Hollands

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Always gain trust first - imagine being a rabbit, and how terrifying it would be to be lifted off the ground so high without being properly supported! For me, head pets help to calm the bunny down instantaneously. Treats and other food act as a distraction, rather than keeping them relaxed. If you are petting their head, slowly guide your hand down their back and seamlessly transition into picking them up from there. Always, always, always support the rump and hold close to your body! Once they are secured in your arms, this would be the appropriate time to feed treats and reward for letting you pick him / her up. Otherwise, your actions could be mistaken for taking them away from their food / treats.

Another tip I would like to share regarding skittish bunnies - if they start to freak out and make vocal noises or running extremely fast in circles / other body language that indicates they are stressed, cover their eyes with your hand or a blanket. I feel like this tip is not well known, but it is something very important to prevent stress in bunnies! Never cover their mouth or nose in the process, though.
 

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