It is a good idea to get your rabbit used to being handled, as it will make your visit to the vet for vaccinations far less stressful, and turn your rabbit into a great companion. Take things slowly, as sudden moves will frighten your rabbit and create an air of distrust. Many rabbits will resent being picked up initially, and this will be particularly apparent if you have taken on an adult rabbit.
If your rabbit does not like to be handled then try to minimise forced contact. Get your rabbit to trust you by using tasty food – like green leaves or fresh herbs – to encourage your rabbit to like you. It is a good idea to do this first thing in the morning, when the rabbit is hungry, and will be less able to resist the food. When your rabbit approaches confidently, put your other hand out so that he/she can sniff it. If your rabbit is happy with this you can try gently stroking their back – remember to move slowly. With time you will be able to get closer and closer to your rabbit and eventually will be able to get one hand under the chest and the other around their bottom to lift them up.
Rabbits should always be picked up in this manner and never by the ears or scruff. Scruffing can be performed by an experienced handler for restraint, but should never be attempted if you are trying to gain the animal’s trust.
Rabbits are very delicate animals and can injure their backs easily from falling or kicking, so take great care when handling your pet.
Please note: Young kits, under the age of 5 weeks, should not be handled as this may cause the doe to abandon her young. Does generally only feed their offspring once or twice a day, and will not spend all of their time with their young.