Rabbits are a prey species and in the wild the only time they would be picked up would be if they were about to become a predator’s dinner. Pet rabbits can find this just as alarming because fear of being lifted is hardwired into their genes. Therefore we need to handle rabbits in a way that won’t frighten them and won’t cause any injury.

Rabbits that are panicked by being held may struggle and could hurt their backs or legs, or may leap to the ground and hurt themselves when they land.

Rabbits can be unpredictable so even if they seem calm and are sitting quietly in your arms without struggling or panicking, they may suddenly leap out of your arms if you aren’t holding them properly, so don’t let your guard down!


If you’re rabbit is nervous you will need to build its confidence.  It is best to start off by letting them come to you and hand feeding is a good reward. Stroke them and take it at a pace they’re comfortable with until you can touch them all over without them panicking before you try to lift him up. You must then be confident and keep practicing the lifting, if you don’t persist they will never get used to it.


Lifting them up

When you lift your rabbit, it needs to feel secure. Put one hand under their chest, with a couple of your fingers between their front legs and with your other hand scoop up their bottom. Get them close to your body as quickly as you can so that they’re secure and cannot wriggle nor leap out of your grip. Rabbits are very fragile, with fine bones and internal organs that can easily be damaged. You need to be firm without squeezing.


Putting them down


When putting your rabbit back on the ground, you need to be careful that they don’t make a jump for freedom. Hold them as close to your body as you can, bend your knees and keeping them in a secure grip, squat down and lower your rabbit to the ground.