Picking up Bunnies

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Sunny and Poppy

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Hi Everyone,

I just got 2 Lionhead bunnies 2 weeks ago (they are 10 weeks old). I had to take them to the vet the other day and picking them up was traumatic for all three of us! They let me touch them briefly but then they'll run away. I want to be able to pick them up so that I can do things like take them to the vet and move them from one pen to another. I had 2 Lionheads before these 2 and never picked them up because I hated feeling like I was putting them in a scary situation, but it made it difficult when it came to getting them in a carrier. I swore I wouldn't do the same thing with these bunnies.

When I make even an attempt to pick them up they run off. If I manage to pick them up they struggle. So I'm wondering what is the best way to get them used to being picked up? I feel if I don't start now, then they'll never be comfortable being picked up.

Thanks!
Melissa
 
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When I make even an attempt to pick them up they run off. If I manage to pick them up they struggle. So I'm wondering what is the best way to get them used to being picked up? I feel if I don't start now, then they'll never be comfortable being picked up
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You have only had these bunnies for 2 weeks, so they haven't bonded with you yet. You need to spend time with them so they can get used to you. You might also try getting the bunnies used to the carrier. Put the carrier on the floor with them and put some food in the crate. For front loading carriers, have a towel in the bottom of the crate, and when you want to take your rabbit out, pull him out by pulling out the towel. Some rabbits never like being picked up. I have one rabbit that I get him to jump into a cat bed. Then I pick him up, cat bed and all. He feels secure when I use the bed, but he will freek out if I try to pick him up. Top loading carriers make it easier to just pick up your rabbit than front loading carriers.
 
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JBun

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I agree. Train them with treats(rabbit safe ones properly introduced into the diet) to get them to load up in their carrier voluntarily.

 

Barbara

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I sat on the floor with my guy and when he would come to me I would pick him up and hold him against my chest. The first few tries weren't so great, but eventually he got used to it. Being on floor level with them makes it not so scary. At least that's my take on it. Now he does it all on his own. Even when I'm sitting on the couch he jumps up on my lap. Treats are a great incentive. If my guy hears the sound of his treat bag or even smells a banana I am usually getting what I need from him.
 

Blue eyes

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When moving them "from one pen to another" either use a carrier or, if it's just a few feet, shoo them in by using something like a poster-size foamboard. Do not carry them in your arms -- even if they do get used to being held.

Carrying them in your arms regularly anywhere is a guaranteed accident waiting to happen. At some point they will eventually squirm which will cause you to either squeeze them too hard in an attempt to prevent them from falling, or they will escape and fall. Either option could result in injury or serious injury.

Take your time in bonding with your buns. Don't feel you have to rush things because of their young age. Unlike with other pets, rabbits train most easily when they are older and past hormones. And as has already been said, some rabbits never get used to being held.

Founder of Bunny Bunch rescue, Caroline Charland, states, "People often think a rabbit must be held a lot as a baby in order to like being held as an adult. I don't find this true at all. Over the years, the Bunny Bunch rescue I founded has saved many mother and baby rabbits from shelters. All the babies were treated the same. When they became adults their personalities varied-- some liked to be held, some hated to be held and some tolerated being held."
 

Barbara

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When moving them "from one pen to another" either use a carrier or, if it's just a few feet, shoo them in by using something like a poster-size foamboard. Do not carry them in your arms -- even if they do get used to being held.

Carrying them in your arms regularly anywhere is a guaranteed accident waiting to happen. At some point they will eventually squirm which will cause you to either squeeze them too hard in an attempt to prevent them from falling, or they will escape and fall. Either option could result in injury or serious injury.

Take your time in bonding with your buns. Don't feel you have to rush things because of their young age. Unlike with other pets, rabbits train most easily when they are older and past hormones. And as has already been said, some rabbits never get used to being held.

Founder of Bunny Bunch rescue, Caroline Charland, states, "People often think a rabbit must be held a lot as a baby in order to like being held as an adult. I don't find this true at all. Over the years, the Bunny Bunch rescue I founded has saved many mother and baby rabbits from shelters. All the babies were treated the same. When they became adults their personalities varied-- some liked to be held, some hated to be held and some tolerated being held."
Question off topic. For a male bun when do his hormones start to relax a little? Besides being neutered.
 

Blue eyes

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Question off topic. For a male bun when do his hormones start to relax a little? Besides being neutered.
That will vary per individual rabbit. With some rabbits, hormonal behaviors can become ingrained and remain for years. So there isn't a precise answer. In fact, behaviors that are typically attributed to hormones can vary greatly per rabbit as well. Some rabbits may experience every and all hormonal behavioral changes to the extreme while others seem to barely change.

Behavior (non-hormonal) also changes as the years pass -- even with neutered rabbits. They go through phases. Some behaviors, like chewing, digging, exploring, claiming territory, are normal rabbit behaviors. Those behaviors can be excessive during hormonal periods, but they aren't going to disappear completely either with age or with neutering (nor should they since that is normal rabbit behavior).

Knowing and monitoring the behavior of our individual rabbits can help us -- not to change the behavior, but to provide the safe outlets they need to partake in those behaviors.

This doesn't give the answer you may have been looking for, but at least you can see why there isn't really a "hormones in intact rabbits die down after ____ months" kind of answer.
 

Barbara

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That will vary per individual rabbit. With some rabbits, hormonal behaviors can become ingrained and remain for years. So there isn't a precise answer. In fact, behaviors that are typically attributed to hormones can vary greatly per rabbit as well. Some rabbits may experience every and all hormonal behavioral changes to the extreme while others seem to barely change.

Behavior (non-hormonal) also changes as the years pass -- even with neutered rabbits. They go through phases. Some behaviors, like chewing, digging, exploring, claiming territory, are normal rabbit behaviors. Those behaviors can be excessive during hormonal periods, but they aren't going to disappear completely either with age or with neutering (nor should they since that is normal rabbit behavior).

Knowing and monitoring the behavior of our individual rabbits can help us -- not to change the behavior, but to provide the safe outlets they need to partake in those behaviors.

This doesn't give the answer you may have been looking for, but at least you can see why there isn't really a "hormones in intact rabbits die down after ____ months" kind of answer.
Thank you for your answer. I was just hoping my guy would sometime soon stop trying to hump me. He only does it to me. My boyfriend says maybe due to the relationship my bun and I have. Since we brought him home I have always been the main person sitting and just loving him up. We kiss and hug each other up. He's just that kind of bun and I am missing it. Now every night once he is put away by someone else I sit by his door giving him a treat and kisses. I just miss my regular one on one times with him 😪
 
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