How to Handle and Pick Up a Rabbit

Here are four annotated educational videos with helpful tips on handling and picking up a bunny. All four of these videos stress the importance of being calm, practicing to acclimate your rabbit to being picked up, and properly supporting a rabbit’s back and rear legs to prevent back injuries.

Overview of Handling and the “Football Hold”

The first video does a great job of explaining the rabbit’s mental makeup as a prey animal and how that affects being picked up and handled.

They cover the football hold, front hand hold, and several other pick-up techniques.

Rabbit Handling 101 with Mary Cotter and Amy Sedaris.

C Hold, Arm-Elbow Hold

In this second video, Dr Kristen Britton DVM, demonstrates the “C hold”, “arm-elbow hold”, and a third hold she calls “trancing” but it’s not actually trancing (which should not be done to a rabbit); This hold she demonstates is an “upside-down hold.” This hold is used when a rabbit needs to be positioned safely on thier back for medical purposes such as taking a rectal temperature, cleaning scent glands, etc.

Picking a Bunny up off the Floor

Finally, Saveabunny’s founder and executive director, Marcy Berman, demonstrates how to pick a bunny up off the floor.

SaveaBunny founder Marcy Berman demonstrates how to safely pick up a rabbit off the ground.

Small rabbit Hold, Towel Hold

Dr. Schreiber demonstrates different holds for rabbits of different sizes.

How do I catch my rabbit to put them in a carrier?1

Many rabbits will run and hide at the first sign of a carrier. A few tips to make the process easier:

  • Leave the carrier with the door open in your rabbit’s area to acclimate them to it.
  • Train your rabbit to associate the sound of a treat container (a raisin, a pumpkin seed, etc.) being shaken. When you want them to go in the carrier, shake the treat bag, and when you have your rabbit’s visual attention, place the treat in the carrier. By conditioning in this manner, you can easily get them to go in their carrier.
  • Block off all hiding spots.
  • Use a small exercise pen to pen them off and corner them with an open carrier.
  • Use a large piece of cardboard as a herding tool to assist in cornering them with an open carrier.
  • Throw a large towel or bedsheet over the rabbit and quickly burrito them to stuff them in a carrier.
  • Gently follow the rabbit around and pet them on the head to make them submit and easier to handle.
  • Carefully herd them into a smaller room with fewer hiding spots like a bathroom.

We would highly recommend getting a two-door carrier that you can load rabbits from the top to make the process easier.

Further Reading

Bradbury, A.G. and Dickens, G.J.E. (2016), Appropriate handling of pet rabbits: a literature review. J Small Anim Pract, 57: 503-509.


  1. WabbitWiki Handling FAQ. Retrieved May 16th, 2024. ↩︎
  • Paige K Parsons

    Paige has been a house rabbit educator for over 25 years. Her education efforts began when she designed and created in 1994. She is currently a live concert photographer and previously was a user experience designer. She lives with her husband, Carl, and her two house rabbits, Moe and Mimzy.

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