Lapis ISSN 2398-2969

Handling - restraint

Contributor(s): Jill Pearson, Susan Brown, Lesa Thompson

Introduction

General considerations

  • Rabbits have very powerful hind legs. If they kick out unrestrained, the result may be spinal Spinal injury, pelvic or limb fractures Limb fracture. This is more common in the case of hutch-housed rabbits that have very little exercise and poor bone quality. Handlers should always remember the likelihood of this type of injury and guard against it.
  • Some rabbits are tame and well handled - but even these may panic when faced with a strange person or an unfamiliar environment.
  • Accidents may also happen if pet rabbits leap from a consulting room table in an effort to escape.
  • They may also panic suddenly on slippery surfaces or when the head or mouth is touched.
  • For the novice rabbit handler it is often safer to pick up the rabbit from the floor to prevent falls or leaps from a high level until the rabbit is securely restrained.
  • You should speak softly and note that if the rabbit has been exposed to predator species, eg the smell of ferrets or the sound of barking dogs, prior to the examination they may already be panicked when you pick them up. At this point some rabbits scream when touched. Cover them loosely with a towel and allow them calm down before further restraint.
  • As with other species, animal training with positive reinforcement can be beneficial to reduce stress for the pet rabbit and to improve bonding between the pet and owner.
Print off the Owner Factsheet on Stress in rabbits to give to your clients.

Carrying

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Examination

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Hospitalization

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Syringe feeding

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Further Reading

Publications

Refereed papers

  • Recent references from PubMed and VetMedResource.
  • Brown S A (2001) The domestic rabbit - husbandry and clinical techniques. Comp Cont Educ Pract Vet Suppl A 23 (2), 15-22.
  • Brown S A (1997) Clinical techniques in rabbits. Semin Avian Exotic Pet Med (2), 86-95 ScienceDirect.
  • Hillyer E V (1994) Pet rabbits. Vet Clin North Am Small Anim Pract 24 (1), 25-65 PubMed.
  • Mendlowski B (1975) Neuromuscular lesions in restrained rabbits. Vet Pathol 12 (5-6), 378-386 PubMed.


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