How to Safely Pick up a Rabbit? Carrying a Rabbit

How to Safely Pick up a Rabbit

Rabbits that are properly and frequently handled, usually become gentle, manageable, and are unlikely to scratch when you pick up a rabbit. You will need to handle rabbits to examine them for diseases, sores, injuries, or to move them from one hutch to another. You will also need to handle your rabbit when you are entered in a 4-H rabbit show. Practice picking up and handling your rabbit regularly and both of you will be far more comfortable when it is showtime.

Removing a Rabbit from its Cage

Rabbits tend to struggle when you try to remove them from their cages. Follow these steps for safe removal:

  1. Place the palm of your hand under the middle of the abdomen and lift.
  2. If the rabbit struggles, use your other hand to grip the skin over the shoulder blades.
  3. Take the rabbit out of the cage with the backside first and the head last.
  4. When the rabbit is out of the cage, provide support to the hindquarters with your hand or body.

BE VERY CAREFUL when you are bringing them out that their toes do not get caught in the wire. A caught foot or toe could lead to serious injury.

DO NOT lift a rabbit using its ears or front legs. They are not strong enough to support the rabbit’s weight.

Pick up a Rabbit

There are several different ways to pick up a rabbits. Select the one that is best for you depending on the size and temperament of your rabbit, as well as your size and strength. No matter which way you select, make sure you always keep a firm hold on the rabbit in case it suddenly tries to get away. This is most effectively done by grasping the loose skin over the rabbit’s shoulders. If your rabbit does not have suf- ficient loose skin or if it has a delicate hair coat, you may choose to grasp the rabbit by the shoulders instead to avoid discomfort and/or coat damage. The rabbit’s ears should also be tucked into your hand (if they are long enough) to help you maintain control over the head. When you grasp the ears be sure not to pull them, just lightly hold them in your hand.


How to pick up a rabbit
How to pick up a rabbit
  1. Grasp the rabbit’s ears and the fold of skin over the shoulders in your right hand.
  2. Place the rabbit, feet down, on your left arm.
  3. Support the rabbit’s behind with your left hand.
  4. Tuck the rabbit’s head under your left elbow (this will prevent the rabbit from seeing everything that is going on and will help to keep them calm).


  1. Grasp the rabbit’s ears and the fold of skin over the shoulders in your right hand.
  2. Place the rabbit, behind down, on your left arm close to the elbow.
  3. The rabbit’s feet should be sticking out under your left arm and their face should be buried in your armpit.
  4. Support the rabbit’s back with your left hand.

METHOD 3 (not recommended if your rabbit is likely to become startled)

  1. Place the rabbit’s feet against your stomach or chest.
  2. Support the behind with your left hand.
  3. Keep a grip on the rabbit with your right hand in case it jumps.

METHOD 4 (use only to move rabbits a very short distance, quickly)

  1. Grasp the rabbit’s ears and the fold of skin over the shoulders in your right hand.
  2. Lift the hind end with your left other hand and keep the rabbit facing away from you (all four feet should be pointing out in front of you).

How to Flip your Rabbit Over?

It is important to learn how to flip your rabbit over so you can trim its toenails and check its teeth. You will also be expected to turn your rabbit over during showmanship classes to demonstrate to the judge your handling ability. Follow these steps to safely flip over your rabbit.

Flip your Rabbit Over – Pick Up a Rabbit
  1. Start with the rabbit sitting on the table facing the left.
  2. Grasp the rabbit’s ears and the fold of skin over the shoulders in your right hand.
  3. Reach your left arm in front of the rabbit’s body and place your hand on its rump.
  4. Use your right hand to lift the rabbit’s front end at the same time as using your left hand to slightly lift and roll the rabbit’s hind end under (results in the rabbit sitting on its rump).
  5. Continue to lower the rabbit until it is lying on its back, on or beside your right arm.
  6. Continue to keep a firm grip on the shoulders and ears.

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