Sunday, November 14, 2010

Handling Rabbits--Do's and Don'ts

--This is another post from the old blog, but since I groomed a lot today I decided to also include pictures of Spang's Zsa Zsa, a REW doe whom I've been growing out to extremes to see if she can eat a full ration all the way to harvest. Since she has NZ in her (she's an F4 cross) I wanted to be sure that there were no issues with woolblock before breeding her. As of today, she is wearing a 6 1/2 month coat and I am thrilled to report that she is cleaning her dish everyday---YAY! More stuff again next time:-)

Handling Rabbits--Do's and Don'ts

Lots of people, particularly newer breeders, are often unsure of the best way to handle, pick up, and carry a rabbit. Different people have different methods that are used for pets, showbunnies, and angoras wearing showcoats, but here is a list of the typical do's and don'ts when it comes to running rabbits around in general:

-Keep bunny nails neatly trimmed to avoid getting them ripped out on the cage floor and to keep from being seriously scratched by your rabbit.
-Let the rabbit know that you are ready to pick them up by talking to them first and making them aware of your presence (no surprises, in other words!)
-Place one hand over the head and ears/neck of the rabbit before lifting it out of the cage, and slip the other hand under the belly so as NOT to be lifting the rabbit out by the head or scruff of the neck. Placing your hand over the head is only for restraint purposes, never for lifting.
-Use a stepladder to remove rabbits from top cages so that you are not forced to drag a rabbit forward in order to get it out.
-Always LIFT, and never PULL a rabbit out of a cage whether you are taking them out backwards or forwards.
-When removing a rabbit from the cage who is facing backward, place one hand over the head and the other one under the belly and lift the rabbit out backwards. If you cannot get one hand on the head then slip it under the belly/chest of the rabbit right up to the front legs, hold them firmly, then use the other hand to grab the rump of the rabbit and lift it safely out.
-When taking a rabbit out of a cage who is facing forwards, wrap one arm around the side and rear of the rabbit, and the other directly under the rib cage and lift up.
-Once you have a rabbit out of a cage tuck it into the crook of your arm like a football (facing backwards), and hold it against your body firmly.
-When placing the rabbit back into the cage try to do it backwards to avoid tripped/torn toenails. Reverse the hold you used to take the rabbit out of the cage facing frontwards and place one hand under the chest with the other hand grasping the rump. Lift the rabbit into the cage backwards and place it down on the cage floor.

-Do not ever sneak up on a rabbit before picking it up or touching it. Always make sure he/she is 100% aware you are there to avoid sudden bolts and possible spinal injury.
-Never pick up a rabbit by the ears, head, or scruff of the neck. Repeated lifting of the skin over the neck can cause it to actually become permanently separated from the meat. The resulting flabbiness/fattiness will make it impossible to get the rabbit into show condition, and performance will suffer as a result.
-Never drag a rabbit out of it's cage. Instinct will cause it to dig it's nails into the cage floor and resist the motion, resulting in broken or ripped out toenails.
-Once a rabbit is out of it's cage, never carry it like a briefcase with the legs dangling. This is almost a sure-fire recipe for spinal injury, and one that should be avoided at all costs.
-Never hold a rabbit away from your body unless you have a very firm grip on the chest and rump of the rabbit. Any position of 'dangling' or flailing will greatly upset a rabbit of any breed, and if they must be held out they must be held firmly enough so that they feel secure and do not kick or panic.
-Never grip a rabbit's hind legs together to stop it from kicking. It is not natural for rear legs ever to be touching one another, and if a rabbit should panic or try to escape in this position both legs could break.
-Never move quickly around rabbits. Never grab them roughly, severely, or suddenly, and never surprise them from behind or above. Remember that calm bunnies are much less likely to injure themselves, and much more likely to let you handle them when they trust you to keep them safe:).

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