When you get a pet for yourself, you imagine cuddling and snuggling with the animal. Dogs and cats love getting a pet, laying in your lap, and being in your arms. However, not all animals are the same. For example, a pet rabbit is a perfect animal around the house. They are hyperactive and will keep the place alive with their constant zooming and hopping.
Cuddling or holding a warm, fuzzy rabbit is the dream of every bunny owner. However, what if your rabbit does not like being held? As prey animals, rabbits take their time building trustworthy relationships with other animals and humans. So, how to get your rabbit to like being held?
When approaching a rabbit, you must be gentle and slow. Sudden movements will startle the rabbit and reduce the chance of building a trustworthy relationship. Instead, slowly make the animal comfortable with your touch before holding it in your lap.
You can do plenty of things to make your pet comfortable with your presence, touch, and sound. Rabbits are fragile animals and will need loads of love, but slowly. If you are short of patience, a rabbit will not be your best-suited pet. However, read on if you believe you can make immense efforts as long as it takes to befriend your rabbit.
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Why Is Your Rabbit Reluctant To Be Held?
Rabbits are complex creatures and have many emotional layers. But, for survival, they are born with inbuilt instincts and anxieties that help them live long and safely. As a human, you will not understand the reasons behind your rabbit’s behavior, as you hold the animal with nothing but love. However, it is essential to uncover the underlying fears of your rabbit and address them with acts that will make your rabbit feel safe around you.
In the wild, the bunnies have to face predators. When a wild hunter animal lifts a rabbit, it raises the bunny from above. The rabbit cannot see its attacker, as bunnies cannot turn their head up to see above their head. If you pick your rabbit from its scruff from above, the animal will panic because it will think a predator has got its claws on it.
Rabbits cannot see right in front of themselves or above them. So if you approach your bunny from the front or above, it will not see you coming. Instead, it will cause panic in the furry fellow, who will stomp and scratch to get free from your hold. The physical struggle can cause the rabbit injuries and harm the owner.
How Can You Make Your Bunny Feel Comfortable With Being Held?
Many rabbits love to cuddle, but individual differences can occur. Every rabbit has a unique personality. Your rabbit might not like a lot of physical touches, but your friend’s bunny does. It is okay. There are plenty of ways to train and make your bunny like being in your arms. As a pet owner, your primary purpose in getting a pet is to have a cuddle partner you can play with and care for like a child.
So, here is what you can do to help your rabbit like being held:
Have a Gentle Approach
As mentioned earlier, rabbits have fragile hearts that can startle easily. Your rabbit needs to trust you to build a healthy relationship with you. Rabbits are helpless creatures and depend on their owners for safety and comfort. Pick your rabbit with a gentle touch and calm, slow movements.
Avoid The Ears, Scruff, And Tail
A bunny is a delicate animal all over, but the ears, scruff, and tail are the most sensitive parts of the animal. Therefore, scratching the precious rabbit on its ears and scruff is acceptable.
However, pulling or lifting the animal from these body parts is extremely painful for the poor animal. If you do this, your rabbit will associate fear and pain with your touch. Once the rabbit associates a negative feeling with something, it is hard to revoke and change the bunny’s mind.
Support The Bottom
Rabbits have fragile body structures and cannot hold their weight on their shoulders. When you lift your precious pet rabbit, keep one hand under its bottom. You need to support your rabbit’s weight from underneath the bunny for a comfortable experience for your pet.
When lifting the rabbit, place one hand under your rabbit’s chest and the other under the animal’s buttocks. It is best never to hold your rabbit on its back, as it will make your poor pet go into shock, which is a health risk.
Let The Rabbit Go If It Struggles
There is a high chance your rabbit will struggle, kick, and thrash to get free from your hold. Therefore, it is best not to take it personally and let the rabbit free. In such circumstances, your rabbit will need a sense of safety and freedom to feel less fearful of the situation. If you try to force or restrain your rabbit to keep it in your lap, the bunny can get injured. It can harm the rabbit’s bones, sprain its muscles, or shock its sensitive heart into failure/attack.
Slowl Let The Bunny Down
When you notice your rabbit wants to play or is not comfortable in your grasp, bend to the ground level before letting go of the precious rabbit. Rabbits are experts at jumping, but it will be safer for you to reduce their jump height by sitting or bending.
Once you are near the ground, brace for your rabbit’s jump and hind legs. If you are gentle throughout the process, your bunny will trust you more and accept your grasp and lap more quicker.
Every bunny has a different personality and likings. Your rabbit might not fit in the group of rabbits that love being in their owner’s grasp. You can introduce cuddles to your bunny slowly. Step by step, make your rabbit used to your touch with scratches and pets.
Lure the bunny on your lap, and then try to hold the animal. However, there is a high chance your rabbit might feel uncomfortable in your grasp. It is okay. There are a million ways you can spend time with your precious furry friend, like playing, teaching tricks, snuggling on the ground, etc.
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Some Tips To Make It Easy For Your Bunny To Be Held
While trying for your rabbit to come in your lap and be in your arms, it is crucial to take a bunny-oriented approach. As mentioned earlier, every rabbit has its preferences and ways. Due to individual differences, one procedure might only work for some bunnies or breeds. However, there are a few general tips that you can keep in mind to make it a smooth process for your rabbit:
- You can use your rabbit’s favorite food to lure the animal into your lap. Then, let the rabbit come to you for a nibble. It will help you show your precious rabbit that you are harmless.
- It is best to do the cuddles and efforts sparingly. Overdoing physical affection can make your poor rabbit feel trapped and anxious. Understandably, you will have loads of love to give your rabbit but beware of your pet’s personal space.
- It will help if you mix things up when training your rabbit for cuddles. It is essential that you focus on other loving gestures as well, rather than picking your bunny up. Give your rabbit loads of pets and scratches. Grooming your lovely pet is also an intimate activity. Play with your bunny and share silences while just existing. These will help you build a strong relationship with your precious furry friend.
- It would help if you did not only reach out to your rabbit to lift the animal. Approach your rabbit to love it too, so it knows that specific touches do not mean you are going to them pick them. For instance, you can scratch your rabbit on its chest and not only touch the bunny’s chest to lift the animal. This way, your rabbit will not get anxious whenever you feel its chest.
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Rabbits are complex animals and require constant efforts from their owners for understanding and a healthy bond. Getting a pet is easier if you raise a dog or a cat. However, when it comes to rabbits, it can be challenging. The key is to learn about your rabbit’s breed before bringing a bunny home. It is essential to know your rabbit’s likes, dislikes, behavior, needs, fears, and mental abilities at the earliest. Then, try your best to bring your bunny close to you through gentle methods and patience. Spend as much time with the animal as possible while respecting its personal space. Once you learn your rabbit’s behavioral patterns, everything will flow easily.