Our rabbit kicks rather badly when she is picked up. Is there anything that we can do to pacify her?

Handling a rabbitFirstly, be sure that you are holding her properly, supporting her body weight from beneath rather than leaving her dangling in mid-air. This is very important, especially as some rabbits are even heavier than small dogs, and may end up being seriously injured as the result of careless handling. Try to tuck her body on your arm when carrying her, so that she is securely restrained, and be careful that she does not scratch you.

Never lift or support a rabbit by its ears, although you can hold these gently with one hand while picking her up underneath with the other, as this may help to pacify her. The cause of the problem could be that if you acquired your rabbit as an adult, she may never have been used to being handled regularly up until this point in her life.

Child and lop rabbit This is also why it is always important, if you acquire a young rabbit, to accustom it to being handled from an early stage. There should then hopefully be no problems in future. With an older rabbit, it is a question of being gentle and patient. Some breed differences may be apparent as well, with lops in particular having relatively placid natures.

On the other hand, some individual rabbits do appear to be more aggressive than others, in their daily lives, as well as kicking out when being handled. Bucks will sometimes fight viciously between each other, and they have even been known to launch sudden attacks on dogs.

If you have a particularly aggressive buck, you may well find that he becomes more placid having been neutered. A doe is most likely to become aggressive if she feels that her offspring are in any danger, so bear this in mind if you are breeding rabbits at any stage.

Child and rabbitA rabbit’s claws can draw blood, so it is usually recommended to wear long-sleeved clothing when handling your pet, so as to give you some protection if it struggles. Also, make sure other pets, notably dogs and cats are elsewhere, and so they will not alarm your rabbit.

Always supervise a child handling a rabbit, intervening if there is a problem. Bear in mind that some rabbits are too large and heavy for younger children to lift up safely on their own, so lift the rabbit up and place it alongside them when they are sitting down.

It is really important not to lose hold of your rabbit when carrying it, simply because a fall could easily paralyse it, as rabbits are susceptible to spinal injuries. When moving your pet from a hutch to a run therefore, it may be better to use a secure small animal carrier for this purpose.