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Julien Couvreur's programming blog and more

Bunny rabbit hacking


We took our 5 year old bunny rabbit, "Chocolate", to see the vet this morning. We learned plenty of things, including how to "hack" into a natural reflex called "bunny hypnosis".

It can be induced in at least two ways:

  • The first is that if you hold a bunny cradled in your arms or on your lap, with his head back, it tends to fall asleep.
  • The second and most impressive one is that if you hold a bunny by his neck and stretch his back legs far back, he falls into a semi-awake state that lasts from half a minute to a minute.
    This is a built-in defense mechanism, a form of "playing dead" (say if the bunny was dangling from a predator's jaw). The vet explained that this can be exploited to help a distressed bunny that hurt itself and that you couldn't hold and examine otherwise. Apparently it may even be possible to use that time to stitch a small wound.


We used a trick similiar to the second one with our ferret to trim his nails. But we didn't stretch the back legs, and he still was 'out of it' until he was put back down.

Posted by: Sherri (March 19, 2005 03:27 PM) ______________________________________

Don't you know something like that to be used with cats??? I can't "peacefully" wash my cat...

Posted by: John C. (June 26, 2005 06:14 AM) ______________________________________

I wish I had a solution for cats. I have the same problem and it takes two people to shower my kittens without too much struggle.

Posted by: Julien Couvreur (November 8, 2005 03:43 PM) ______________________________________

Actually, our adult cats can be partially subdued by grabbing the nape of the neck, as a momma cat would grab her kittens to carry them. It has been said that this is not perfectly safe for the cat, so do further research, use at your own risk, et cetera. The cat's legs curl up into the kitten position, and I would immediately support the cat's weight with the other hand. We use this with the wilder of our six cats when needing to subdue and handle them. In our experience, the cat will remain "under control" as long as your hand is secure on the nape. This procedure takes a fully-attentive adult, so it will still take a second adult to wash, groom, administer medicine or whatever.

Posted by: Daniel Ashton (December 16, 2005 11:37 AM) ______________________________________

Thanks Daniel for the information.
I've had various degrees of success with this technique. It seems to depend on how young the cats were separated from their mom. When kittens are separated too early, they may not have aquired this reflex and they can struggle out of this position.

Posted by: Julien Couvreur (December 16, 2005 12:56 PM)
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