Safe carrying of a rabbit
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During a visit at the veterinarian, the rabbit must be taken out of the carrier and carried to the examination table.
The bones of rabbits are fragile. House rabbits, furthermore, are often confined in small hutches or cages with little opportunity to exercise their muscles and develop strength as do their wild brothers and sisters. This will, inevitably, lead to systemic underdevelopment of tissues and/or organs (hypoplasia) and to fragile bones.
Rabbits should never be held by only the scruff or the ears; many other ways exist to transport a rabbit safely. Suspension and/or struggling of the rabbit can lead to fracturing of the spine. Carrying by the ears can, furthermore, trigger reflex hypertension, which can be fatal in rabbits.
Safe methods of transport
Several methods are available for proper and safe transport of rabbits from the carrier to the examination table. All include firm hold of the rabbit, to avert escape, and support of its lower spine region and hips to prevent fracture. As a rule, one hand supports the chest of the rabbit, with fingers resting under its axilla (armpits). To prevent compression of the chest, the front limbs of the rabbit are placed over one hand. The second hand or elbow supports the rabbit's weight and is placed underneath its rump. A rabbit kicking against a hard surface when held may injure or fracture its spine. Hind limbs pointing away from the human's body will reduce struggling by the rabbit and scratching of the human by sharp nails.
"Safe Handling", video by Debbie Hanson, with the help of registered vet technician Melissa and the rabbit Skyler:
The following illustrations show common and safe methods of carrying rabbits. Depending on the experience of the carrying person, veterinarian, and the size and weight of the rabbit, the way in which the rabbit is held may slightly differ.
Thanks to Yara and Stampi, for demonstrating the various carrying and restraint methods.