I keep telling myself that I will no longer be maimed by my rabbits.
I keep thinking I will always remember to wear gloves, I will always have long sleeves on, I will always have a thick shirt on. These are the areas the rabbits will get you. They will slash your wrists, arms and stomach as you try to transport them by the scruff or by cradling in your arms. A rabbit can kick its hind legs up behind its head and get you real good when you carry them by the scruff.
My arms and wrists are now a myriad of scars in various stages of healing. Usually I do remember to wear safety gear but sometimes I get an urge to move a rabbit right away who I think will be nice about it. All it takes is one second of hysteria though, something rabbits are all too prone to.
I remember a story told to me last year by a veteran rabbit raiser at a rabbit show. They once had an incident where a man holding a Flemish Giant in his arms was disemboweled by the kicking hind legs when the rabbit started to panic. His intestines spilled out and he was rushed to surgery, where he barely survived.
Yesterday I was reminded again that although my rabbits have never bitten me, their claws are not to be underestimated. Moving a Blue Rex doe for breeding earned me a deep wound in my left palm which makes chores a little more difficult. Rabbit claws will slice you right open like a scalpel. I try not to take it too personally.
2 thoughts on “Respecting Rabbit Claws”
You know a good start to avoiding some scratches would be to pick them up properly, not by the scruff of their neck. This is a very cruel way to handle a rabbit. It doesn’t provide as much support for their delicate spines as other methods and is not natural to a rabbit. As prey animals being picked up this way will frighten them. Then again as a meat breeder I suppose you don’t care much for how an animal feels.
You’re right. You have made me see the terrible error of my ways. I have now hired an ordained Catholic priest as my full time ‘rabbit handler’, and he has been instructed to dip his hands three times in holy water and wrap them with imported silk cloth embroidered with butterflies and colorful birds before he touches any of our precious rabbits. He lives in a small shed behind the barn and is on call 24-7.
He first spends an hour with each rabbit, asking it how it would prefer to be picked up. If the rabbit does not respond, he simply waits until the next day to attempt to pick up the rabbit. Rabbits here are never just “picked up” or as we now like to say, “removed violently from independence”; instead we like to think of it as “accepting” the rabbit as it jumps gleefully into our arms. We are still awaiting the first “jump”, but we know it will be magical when it finally happens.
Thank you again for your insightful comment, which was obviously left out of kindness, compassion and helpfulness.