Rabbits should never be picked up by their ears or by the scruff of their neck. Some people might also hold their rabbits on their back in a “hypnotised” or “tranced” state, where they go really still.
After babyhood, Bunny loses the "freeze" reflex and may struggle and hurt herself trying to get free when restrained. Scruffing is what happens when a hawk or raccoon has you in her grasp and is about to make you her supper. Thus scruffing is both painful and terrifying.
You should never hold rabbits by the ears or the scruff of their neck since these are painful and likely to result in injury. It's important to learn how to properly hold your rabbit. You may need to handle them for any number of reasons, from grooming them to checking them for any signs of a medical condition.
Never pick your rabbit up by its ears. This will traumatize your bunny, and can cause severe injury. Never pick your rabbit up by the scruff, that is, by the loose skin at the back of its neck. Never pick up your rabbit up by one leg.
Correctly picking up and holding a bunny
To properly pick up a rabbit, place one hand under the rabbit's front armpits, place your other hand on the rump near the hind end, lift and hold the rabbit securely to your body. Make sure you are supporting the rabbit's back at all times.
The best places to pet a rabbit are their forehead and behind their ears. The cheeks and strokes down their backs are also good spots. But rabbits dislike being pet on their bottom, feet, chin, and underside.
Gently use the loose skin behind the rabbit's neck to hold onto its scruff. Do not pick the rabbit up by the scruff alone, but use this as a handle to prevent forward motion while you use your other hand arm to tuck the hind legs under the bunny and scrunch the bunny in a gentle “bunny ball.”
Rabbits are prey animals and are relatively fragile compared with cats or dogs; they require firm but gentle handling. Whether kept in the house or in a hutch, they need companionship, space for exercise, hiding and sleeping places, protection from rain, excess heat, and predators, and opportunities to gnaw and dig.
Let her explore you first, and learn that you are not a threat. Give a few small treats as you are getting to know each other. Eating is a social activity for rabbits and eating together builds trust. Small portions of carrot, apple, herbs, or oats are offerings a rabbit will appreciate.
Handling your rabbit could leave you with bloody welts.
Rabbits can look irresistibly cute (especially when they clean their ears), but they prefer to have both feet on the ground, and if you pick them up, they may try to escape by jumping out of your arms—but not without scratching you up first.
Rabbits should not be picked up by the scruff of their neck; proper gentle handling should be used instead. Appropriate handling will be safer and less distressing to the rabbit. A rabbit must never be lifted or held by the ears. This is distressing, painful, and cruel, and can also damage the ears.
Hold rabbits gently but firmly - ensure one hand supports their back and hindquarters at all times. Help them feel secure by holding all four feet against your body. Never pick rabbits up by their ears - this would be extremely stressful and is highly likely to injure them.
Rabbits have very delicate bones and spinal columns. If handled improperly they can easily become injured, or even suffer spinal damage that can cause partial or total limb paralysis. Rabbits that are floppy, weak, sitting or lying in an odd position might be injured or dehydrated.
Rabbits tend to do whatever they want and sometimes just won't listen (much like cats), so sometimes they need to be reminded how to behave! Keep in mind that there is no need to punish your rabbit, but help steer him in the right direction with discipline.
Rabbits typically run away from people because they are afraid or angry. The rabbit has learned from past experiences that humans will chase them, pick them up, or trap them into a small cage.
In general, rabbits do not like to be picked up. The act of bending over them and grabbing them by their ribs to pick them up is very similar to being picked up by a hawk – scary!! The best way to interact with your rabbit is on the floor.
Rabbits shouldn't be kept in small cages
"They should be able to run back and forth, and have separate spaces to sleep, eat, and use the bathroom." Rabbits that are held in small cages often become depressed, and a lack of exercise can lead to health problems such as obesity and muscle weakness.
Whilst you may like to give your bunny a nice big cuddle every time you see him, this really isn't advised at all. Rabbits are prey animals and can become easily spooked and scared. They don't really like to be picked up and handled too often, even by humans that they like!
Give Them Daily Roaming Time
To keep your rabbit happy and healthy, let it out of its cage at least once a day, giving it time to roam. Though at least one hour is necessary, aim closer to three or four. As a rule, never keep your rabbit cooped up for 24 hours at a time.
They put their head on the ground and close their eyes in contentment. They also love getting a good back scratch around the shoulders. That said, they tend not to like being touched on the ears, neck, feet, stomach or tail.
Most will dislike being pet under the chin, on the feet, and under the belly and neck. These are vulnerable areas, and rabbits may defend them with nips and bites. Otherwise, rabbits love receiving such affection from their owners.