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View Full Version : To pick up, or not to pick up? (That is the question)



KMazzy
20-08-2013, 08:23 AM
Ever since I got him back in February this year I've not been able to pick Jaffa up. He squirms like mad and kicks and runs off if I try.

Last night I thought maybe it'd be a good idea to try again, more persistently, because sometimes I might need to pick him up to check him over and stuff. I used to be able to pick Ren up when I first got her in June but since becoming braver she now puts up more resistance.

After a lot of squirming I picked her up and sat with her on my lap on the floor for a little while, until she nipped my wrist to be let off. That was the good bit.

Then I braved it and picked Jaffa up and sat him on my lap for about 10 seconds before he wriggled under my elbow and ran off and hid in a grump.

The plan was to pick them up for short times every day until hopefully they are not so scared.


However when I went in this morning there was fur everywhere :(
They have only ever fought once before, when I was bonding them and made a mistake with their cages. Now I wonder whether they were unhappy about the picking up or whether the new lovely seagrass hideaway I got them (http://www.petsathome.com/shop/woodlands-seagrass-rabbit-hideaway-115461) has caused an argument.

Typically I hoovered last night so everything was lovely and clean and now it's fluffy. Both buns are fine, just a bit tuftier than usual but they're moulting anyway.

So, do you think it is more likely they had a scrap over the new toy rather than my picking up efforts? Should I continue trying to pick them up. Has anyone else managed to make their rabbits calmer to pick up with lots of practice?

I just hate seeing that they've fought. It makes me feel like I've failed them. :cry:

bunnylover177
20-08-2013, 12:07 PM
Hard to say why they had a scrap - it certainly could be refered agression.
I think you are right to persevere with getting them accustomed to being handled although with some buns they never get more than resigned to it. As we take in 'hard to home' rescue buns most of our rabbits are frightened of being handled because of bad experiences.
You probably need to go slowly and take it in stages to prevent them becoming over stressed. You could start by hand feeding them a bit every day to accustom them to you then when they do this stroke their noses and when this is OK stroke their body. Also get them to go into a carrier and stroke/handle them a bit in there as when their feet are on the ground they are less likely to be very afraid - it is worth making them feel a bit uncomfortable as they really need to become accustomed to being handled a bit. This stage can go on for months - years even with some buns!
Also give them time to realise you are about to pick them up - don't grab as this will just frighten them. SOmetimes it is your moving around when you carry them is the problem - they don't trust the driver!
Having said all this some buns will just not accept their feet being off the ground and I respect their wishes and inspect them on the floor when I can and use carriers when moving them around. I have one wildiex who goes into a tube and I lift her and the tube when I am putting her in the outdorr pens - that way she doesn't get stressed and I don't get bitten/scratched. When I need to check her nails etc I make sure I wear an extra thick fleece!

Ailstar
20-08-2013, 12:25 PM
Honestly I don't think any rabbit likes the actual being picked up (understandably really, they think they are about to get eaten, it is natural for them to want to get away) I have to pick my two up every day to take them from the hutch to the run and back again. But I usually pick them up for than that anyway, for cuddles, grooming, so they can run around my kitchen. They funny thing is, most of the time (unless they are feeling especially grumpy) once I've done the actual picking up, they are fine, as long as I've got a secure hold of them. They will both sit quite happily on my lap while I groom them, and their favourite way to sit is kind of lying up my front, while I'm sat on the soft, I think its because Ive got a good secure hold of them while I stroke them. Levi's favourite thing to do while in this position is to lick my face. So I just persevere, I think the more you do it the more they will eventually get used to it and realise that its not scary. :)

KMazzy
20-08-2013, 01:15 PM
Hard to say why they had a scrap - it certainly could be refered agression.
I think you are right to persevere with getting them accustomed to being handled although with some buns they never get more than resigned to it. As we take in 'hard to home' rescue buns most of our rabbits are frightened of being handled because of bad experiences.
You probably need to go slowly and take it in stages to prevent them becoming over stressed. You could start by hand feeding them a bit every day to accustom them to you then when they do this stroke their noses and when this is OK stroke their body. Also get them to go into a carrier and stroke/handle them a bit in there as when their feet are on the ground they are less likely to be very afraid - it is worth making them feel a bit uncomfortable as they really need to become accustomed to being handled a bit. This stage can go on for months - years even with some buns!
Also give them time to realise you are about to pick them up - don't grab as this will just frighten them. SOmetimes it is your moving around when you carry them is the problem - they don't trust the driver!
Having said all this some buns will just not accept their feet being off the ground and I respect their wishes and inspect them on the floor when I can and use carriers when moving them around. I have one wildiex who goes into a tube and I lift her and the tube when I am putting her in the outdorr pens - that way she doesn't get stressed and I don't get bitten/scratched. When I need to check her nails etc I make sure I wear an extra thick fleece!

Thank you for your advice.

I have already been hand feeding them and they don't mind being stroked at all. They are indoor buns so don't have to be moved about too much.

Jaffa doesn't like his feet being touched (unless he is very distracted with food).

I haven't even tried to carry them - just pick them up and immediately put them on my lap whilst sitting down, so they're not high up and I'm not moving.

KMazzy
20-08-2013, 01:18 PM
Honestly I don't think any rabbit likes the actual being picked up (understandably really, they think they are about to get eaten, it is natural for them to want to get away) I have to pick my two up every day to take them from the hutch to the run and back again. But I usually pick them up for than that anyway, for cuddles, grooming, so they can run around my kitchen. They funny thing is, most of the time (unless they are feeling especially grumpy) once I've done the actual picking up, they are fine, as long as I've got a secure hold of them. They will both sit quite happily on my lap while I groom them, and their favourite way to sit is kind of lying up my front, while I'm sat on the soft, I think its because Ive got a good secure hold of them while I stroke them. Levi's favourite thing to do while in this position is to lick my face. So I just persevere, I think the more you do it the more they will eventually get used to it and realise that its not scary. :)

I am not expecting them to ever like it but I would feel better if I could check them (bums, nails etc) more easily.

Before I got Ren, Jaffa used to hop onto me and lie on my chest. But now he saves most of his snuggles for her :(

BigBunnyBenji
20-08-2013, 01:20 PM
Neither of my two have ever been good about being picked up. Benji used to hate it and try and wiggle away, but the vet told me that's because giants are so big that picking them up makes them uncomfortable. April had never been handled before we got her, so she hated and still does hate being picked up. I know I should try pick her up more, but it stresses her out so much that it isn't worth upsetting her. It just looks like we are bad owners now if anyone tries to get near her. :shock:

Ailstar
20-08-2013, 01:23 PM
If you are sitting in the floor I doubt they will sit on your for any length of time. Mine will jump off anywhere they can easily see the floor. I sit on the sofa with mine. Although if I do sit on the floor and let them do their own thing they will happily come over, say hello, have a sit on my lap and a stroke and then they will hop off again. They just won't stay there for any length of time.

KMazzy
20-08-2013, 01:29 PM
If you are sitting in the floor I doubt they will sit on your for any length of time. Mine will jump off anywhere they can easily see the floor. I sit on the sofa with mine. Although if I do sit on the floor and let them do their own thing they will happily come over, say hello, have a sit on my lap and a stroke and then they will hop off again. They just won't stay there for any length of time.

I can sit with Ren on the sofa because she stays a lot stiller. But Jaffy was so squirmy I couldn't stand up and move!

I need to start practising the 'tilting the bun backwards' (NOT trancing, like when they are sitting with their back to you and you lift up their front so you can check underneath) thing with them.

If Jaff didn't have such a fluffy undercarriage I could probably get him to sit on something see-through but he is such a fluffball that all I'd see would be fluff.


I guess it's just weighing up whether it's better to stress them a little bit every day until it hopefully starts to stress them less, or leave them to it and hope that I would notice anything wrong with them without having to have a thorough check.