There are a number of reasons why your rabbit might choose to run away when you try to pick him up. Here we’ll share our top tips to help ensure that those moments become bonding experiences rather than crises!
The first thing to work out is whether your rabbit runs away from being picked up, or just from the actual process of being handled. If your rabbit runs off as soon as you try to touch him, it could be that he doesn’t enjoy being held and touched. Alternatively, it might be that he’s not used to or comfortable with human contact, which can make him feel anxious.
If your rabbit only runs away when you actually try to pick him up, it could be that your rabbit is not used to being held and doesn’t like it. Or he might associate being picked up with something unpleasant, such as going to the vets.
As a general rule, rabbits don’t enjoy being held for too long. They prefer only to have their feet off the ground for a few minutes at a time. However, your rabbit will have its own particular preferences that are worth getting to know. Some rabbits enjoy being held for longer, as long as it’s in a comfortable position and they’re stroked gently on the back of their head at the same time.
Rabbits usually don’t like sudden movements or quick changes in posture, so it’s important to handle them with care. When you’re ready to put your rabbit down, place him back on the ground slowly and steadily.
There are a number of things you can do to help make picking up your rabbit a more positive experience for both of you:
- Start by gently petting your rabbit all over his body.
- Try to do this when your rabbit is relaxed, after a good meal and a play session.
- If he wriggles away from you, don’t chase him – keep repeating the petting until he relaxes again.
- When your rabbit is used to being touched all over his body, try lifting one of his paws.
- If he struggles, put him back down and try again later.
- You can also try stroking your rabbit’s tummy or chin, which some rabbits especially enjoy.
- Once he is used to being held in this way, you can move on to gently picking him up.
- Put one hand under your rabbit’s chest and the other around his back legs, and lift him up slowly.
- If your rabbit feels tense or struggles, put him down and try again later.
- When you’re ready to put your rabbit down, place him back on the ground slowly and steadily.
- Make sure there is a designated spot in your home where your rabbit feels safe and comfortable to be picked up from.
- Put a familiar blanket or toy in the spot, which will help your rabbit feel more secure.
- If possible, follow these steps outside where there are fewer distractions, as this can make it easier for your rabbit to focus on you.
- In time, your rabbit will get used to being picked up and held, knowing that it will always follow a gentle routine.
As with all wild animals, you must never pick up a rabbit by the ears, tail, or any other body part. This can cause serious injury to your rabbit and should only ever be done by a professional.