The Crate, From the Rabbit’s Point of View
Rabbits in a crate view that crate as their home. When you enter it, you are violating their space. A few rabbits may welcome you, and run forward to be petted. But most will view you as an unwelcome intruder, just as you would view someone entering your home without invitation.
When you approach a rabbit in a crate, be aware you are violating the rabbit’s space and the rabbit may not appreciate it. The proper way to approach a rabbit is with the back of your fingers coming down between the rabbit’s eyes. You may need to be on a stool in order to be high enough to do this.
If you bring your hand toward the rabbit horizontally, one of two things may happen:
1. The rabbit will be able to lunge at it.
2. The rabbit cannot see fingers in front of their nose. If your fingers smell like something to good to eat, they may take a bite.
Rabbits you approach in their crates will typically have one of three responses:
1. Friendly response: The rabbit comes forward, lowers her head as your fingers come down between her eyes, and allows herself to be picked up easily.
2. Frightened response: The rabbit hides in a corner, or behind something, and tries to avoid you. Sometimes, frightened rabbits remain still and drop their heads as your hand lowers between their eyes and allow themselves to be picked up. Others will flee from corner to corner trying to avoid you. With these, you may need to wait until they are in the litter box, then quickly and sharply pull the box toward you, grabbing the rabbit’s scruff to hold them still, and then pick them up.
(Note: NEVER lift a rabbit by the scruff. Be prepared for the rabbit to use his back legs to scratch at your hand and arm to free himself. You must be very quick to lift the rabbit using the techniques indicated below.)
3. Aggressive response: The rabbit lunges at you. Keep you hand above the rabbit’s head, coming down between the eyes with the backs of your fingers. Follow the rabbit around the crate until he drops his head (usually when he’s cornered).
Picking Up a Rabbit
Because the spine of a rabbit is the most fragile and easily damaged part of their bodies, it is essential you prevent the spine from flexing backwards when lifting them!
Move the rabbit into a position facing you
Slide your right hand under the rabbit's rib cage
Put your left hand on the rabbit’s rump, above the tail
Press the rabbit’s body with your right hand against your left arm,
and lift quickly to get those powerful back feet off the floor
Fold your left arm into your body, so the rabbit is against your body
(Left handed people will probably be more comfortable reversing the above directions.)