Millennium Post

How to handle a not-so-cuddly rabbit

Holding a rabbit while she struggles and kicks is not only dangerous for you, but for the rabbit too. Rabbits might break their legs, necks and spines because people insist on handling them against their will.

Q: My rabbit doesn't like being held. He growls and bites every time I try to hold him. Is there anything I can do about it?

A: Your rabbit is a ground-dwelling animal that is a prey item for many predators. It is completely against the nature of the rabbit to be held far above the ground where it cannot control its own motions and activities. When you "force" her to be held against her will, you reinforce her notion that you are a predator who is trying to restrain her. Holding her while she struggles and kicks is not only dangerous for you and the children, but for your rabbit too; as they might break their legs, necks and spines because people insist on carrying them around and handling them against their will.
Q: What post-operative care should I give my rabbit after he's neutered?
A: Immediately after surgery, keep your rabbit warm and quiet. Provide a warm water bottle or other heat source (that can't leak, burn, or cause injury) wrapped in a soft towel for the rabbit to lean against or move away from, at his / her discretion. DO NOT use any type of electrical heating source that could be an electrocution risk, should the rabbit chew on it.
Rabbits will tolerate a soft, light blanket better than a heavy one.
Don't hover over him. A bunny after surgery may feel groggy and unhappy, and not in the mood for cuddling. Unless you know that your rabbit wants cuddling, it's best to let him / her recover quietly and without more human interruption than is necessary to ensure that all is well.
Be sure to carefully (and gently) check the sutures daily for a few days after surgery to be sure the rabbit isn't chewing them. Many vets use subcuticular (under the skin) sutures that cannot be chewed out, and may even put a line of surgical glue over the incision for extra strength. Ask your vet about this before surgery, so you will know what to expect.
Be alert for excessive bleeding (a bit of oozing is not unusual, but outright bleeding is a cause for concern). Excessive redness or signs of infection, such as swelling or pus, are not normal.
Keep your rabbit quiet for a few days after surgery, but try to maintain normal feeding and bonding times. There is no reason to separate bonded pairs or groups as long as the bunnies interact calmly. A post-surgical rabbit will usually manage his / her own activity quite well, and
knows not to "push it" too soon.
However, if you must separate the rabbits, be sure they can see, smell, and touch one another even if they don't have full physical contact.
Remember: the rabbit that has undergone surgery needs the emotional support of his/her mate for an uneventful recovery. Allowing them to be in contact reduces the chances that they will fight upon re-introduction.
Offer your rabbit a heavy ceramic bowl of water, even if you usually provide a sipper bottle. A rabbit needs to drink after surgery, but often won't do so if she / he has to "work" for water. A well-hydrated rabbit recovers more quickly and feels better in the process.
If your rabbit is reluctant to eat after surgery, offer a favourite treat. Fragrant herbs such as basil, parsley, dill and mint seem to appeal to a rabbit recovering from surgery.
Rabbits seem to prefer healthy foods, such as fresh greens and hay while they are recovering, rather than starchy treats, which is all for the better.
If your rabbit does suffer complications from surgery that cause him to stop eating, you may need to hand-feed for a few days afterwards to help get the GI tract back to normal.
(Views expressed and information provided are personal; Send your questions to

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