Although rabbits are categorized as self-cleaning mammals,
they do need help with their nails,
a nail that is too long can catch, break off and cause lots of bleeding,
or in extreme cases a broken toe.
For almost a couple months, twice a month, I've been volunteering at the Rabbit Haven adoption show trimming nails, cleaning scent glands and performing minor grooming. Free nails trims are one of the services that the Haven offers the rabbit community. Donations are welcome, but not required. Rabbit nails need to be trimmed every 6 to 8 weeks, though some rabbits need to have them done every month. It took me quite awhile to be able to trim nails on my own rabbits, they were good teachers. I have developed three possible holds for the procedure, depending on what the rabbit will let me do. My preferred hold is to have the rabbit on it's back on a towel, slightly cradled between my thighs. This is not trancing because the rabbit's head is not tilted back and it is not unconscious. The position is comfortable and calming for many rabbits. The hind legs of some rabbits shake. Holding the rabbits legs so they stop shaking will not make the rabbit less afraid. Shaking is not a bad thing, it is, in fact, a good thing. Shaking is a neurogenic reaction to stress or fear. It is the body's mechanism for releasing tension/trauma. In a stress and shaking study using chicks it was found that the chicks that were stressed and shook were more resilient to disease and subsequent stress than chicks that were not allowed to shake after stress AND chicks that were not stressed at all. Sometimes people shake too, you may have experienced this if you have had to do public speaking, given birth, or been in scary situation. It is possible to access our shaking abilities and shake out old traumas to our emotional and physical bodies, the system is call TRE and you can find out more by clicking HERE.
Harriet is comfortable and ready for her nails to be trimmed,
Amelia is also comfortable in this position,
Sydney likes to sit up like a baby in a lap,
and Tyler must be done with four feet on the lap,
this is tricky and takes much twisting on my part, but it can be done,
and he insists it is the only way for him.
When I clip nails I work more slowly than the other people who are on nails. Unlike others I cannot talk while I am working. In my case the rabbits can tell if my attention wanders and it's then they will squirm over. They are still teaching me, have no expectations, just sit in the moment and see what it brings, clip nail. This last week I worked on a rabbit for the second time, I've been doing it long enough that I get repeats! The first time I was warned that this rabbit was very bad for nail trims and had been just awful the last time. Her nails were very long, I presume her human had been avoiding the issue as long as possible. I introduced myself to the bun, and petted her for a bit, then turned her over on my legs. I tried to stay focused and calm, and let the bunny turn over when she wanted, which was after each foot, then turned her back over. When it was done I massaged her and told her she was good and beautiful and perfect. This time she over turned once, for the first paw, then was still and relaxed for the rest. Everyone was happy.
Amelia patrolling in the Blueberry Bunny Park.