Do Bunnies Like to Be Held?
With that furry little face, twitchy nose and beautiful eyes you’d think bunnies would like to be held and cuddled right? But that’s not the case for many of them.
Bunnies, like all pets, have a personality all their own. Just like some pets love to be carried around and some don’t, that’s the same case for bunnies. And this can even vary from day to day!
Imagine a busy household, with lots of commotion and activity, maybe kids running around and other pets playing… don’t be surprised if you try to hold your bunny and he or she kicks and squirms to be put down. Or worse, shakes and tries to hide.
Alternatively, if it’s super quiet and calm, your bunny may have no issues with being held.
But what if you are just really wanting to pick up and hold your furry friend? Follow these tips to ensure a good cuddle every time (or most of the time!)
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How to handle your bunny
Keep in mind that carrying your bunny and walking around is much different than cuddling your bunny from a seated position. I highly recommend the seated position first as carrying a bunny while walking can not only be dangerous to the bunny (they can squirm and be dropped), but they are rarely comfortable at that height.
Patience is huge when it comes to holding your bunny. If the environment is making him stressed, it may take a bit longer to calm him down to the point of being able to hold him. The key is to be patient and take your time getting to the ‘holding’ stage.
Sit on the floor
Sitting on the floor with your bunny out next to you is the best way of working up to holding them. This makes you ‘on level’ with them. Which is a lot less intimidating than grabbing them from inside of a cage or chasing them.
In moderation, treats are one of your best secret weapons. I really like the Barley Biscuits from Oxbow. They’re a heart-shaped biscuit and bunnies LOVE them! They’re rather large too, but if you break it in half, it works really well for enticing a bunny to come towards you.
Pro tip: Use moderation with treats, bunnies are small and too many can disrupt their digestion, which can lead to problems.
Stroking and petting
With a treat, most bunnies are a little more agreeable to petting and stroking. Pet the top of their heads and stroke down to their back. Again, some bunnies like their backs pet more than their heads, some it’s the other way around. It just depends on the rabbit. So see what yours will allow. Give him or her a few pets, then move on to the next step.
Sitting on your lap
Gently pick your bunny up and place them on your lap. Give another pet or two and see how he does. This might be all you get. We’ve had our bunny sit for all of 2 seconds and hop off and away and we’ve had him sit for a minute before. So it just depends how much time you get.
Maybe not immediately, but using this approach over and over again will eventually get your bunny to the point of being comfortable sitting on your lap and allowing you to hold them.
What happens if this method doesn’t work?
Have patience! Sometimes it can take six months for a bunny to agree to being stroked, let alone held.
What we have to say
It took our Holland lop, Easter, about six months before we could hold him without completely stressing him out. Six months sounds like a long time but it was gradual. We’d do a quick pet on the head… or sneak a stroke on the back every now and then. We’ve found the longer we talked to him and acknowledged him without actually trying to pet him, the better he did when trying to hold and cuddle him.