Saturday, March 14, 2009

How to hypnotize a bunny

Thor is new to our house. Bill bought him from a 4-H kid back in December as my dissertation present. Now that Thor's stud days are over he lives a quiet life the highlights of which are eating broccoli stalks and guarding the back bathroom against dangerous intruders (otherwise known as friends and houseguests).

I've only ever had lops but I find them to be the most responsive and social of rabbits. While my other bunny, Roo, had a personality kind of like a dog--friendly, curious, playful--Thor is more of a fussy boy, more like a disapproving bunny than a puppy. Everything is a big drama for him. And if it isn't, he'll make it a big drama. Stomp. Stomp! STOMP!

Despite being so cuddly looking, most bunnies are not all that interested in being held. So, I don't often pick up my bunnies unless I'm checking on their overall health or trimming their nails. To look at their teeth and to check their skin and ears I will usually pick them up and hold them in my lap. While in this position their feet are positioned to give you a decent blow to the jaw (yes, this has happened) but I read once that you can calm them down and make them very docile while they're lying back.

First of all, make sure that the bunny is held and supported. You don't want him to be able to twist or jump away as this could cause him to hurt himself. Keep his feet supported and still by pressing your chest against them, and keep the rest of his body contained in your lap. Not too deep so that he's at risk for falling through, but cradle him in and support him so that he feels held.

Now, gently rub his chin with the backs of your fingers. Go slow, make it even, and strive to make the strokes match the speed of your own relaxed breath.

After a few minutes of this you should have a mellow bunny who will consent to gentle petting of his forehead or even to clipping his nails (although keep a hand gently holding his body down since he might get nervous and jumpy again). Keep going back to stroking his chin now and then.