Some rabbit owners may trance their rabbits, thinking it makes handling and grooming easier. In addition, they feel that their rabbits appear to be relaxed by closing their eyes and falling asleep. But the question is, do rabbits like being on their back? Is it safe to put your rabbit on its back? Why do rabbits trance themselves? Let’s find out all of these questions in this article.
Rabbits do not like being on their back as it’s vulnerable, causing stress and discomfort as it puts pressure on their spine, leading to injuries and health issues. So, hold rabbits close to your body, support their body and hindquarters, and avoid keeping them on their back or holding them tightly.
This article will briefly discuss why trancing is dangerous, what happens when you put your rabbit on its back, the risks involved, and how to hold them safely. So, let’s find it out.
Do my rabbit like being on its back?
Rabbits do not generally enjoy being on their backs. In addition, it can be stressful and uncomfortable for them to be in this position.
Rabbits are prey animals, and being on their backs makes them feel vulnerable and exposed, which can cause them to feel frightened and stressed.
Furthermore, holding a rabbit on its back can cause physical discomfort and even lead to serious injury.
This position can put pressure on their spine and internal organs, which is fatal for their health.
If you need to handle your rabbit, it’s best to support its bottom and chest while allowing its feet to touch the ground or a stable surface.
This way, they will feel safe and secure, and you can avoid causing them any unnecessary stress or discomfort.
It could be considered cute for some owners to hold their rabbits on their backs and feel that their rabbit is also enjoying it by closing their eyes and appearing relaxed.
However, they don’t enjoy it and feel stressed out and terrified, making them freeze up.
In addition, it is highly harmful or even fatal towards their health if holding your rabbit on its back for too long.
Also read: Can Rabbits Get Kennel Cough?
What happens when you put your rabbit on its back?
When you put your rabbit on its back or upside down, it may appear frozen or paralyzed, known as trancing.
Trancing, also known as “tonic immobility,” is a state of physical and behavioural paralysis that can occur in rabbits when placed on their back or held firmly on their sides for an extended period.
Some owners often mistake this state as a sign of relaxation or calmness, but it is a stress response that can harm the rabbit.
During trancing, a rabbit’s body goes limp, and they appear to be in a deep relaxation condition, but it is dangerous for their health.
However, rabbits use this defence mechanism in the wild as prey animals to avoid being attacked by predators.
When they are in this state or position, they are not able to move or escape from danger, making them vulnerable to potential harm.
But, doing this which your domestic rabbit intentionally could make them stressed out or even causes life-threatening issues.
When a rabbit is in this position, their internal organs can be compressed, leading to discomfort, pain, and potentially even serious injury.
In addition, the body’s weight can put pressure on its internal organs and spine, which can be stressful and traumatic for them, leading to health issues.
Being in a vulnerable position can be very stressful for rabbits, as it goes against their instincts as prey animals.
Trancing can cause rabbits to feel anxious, frightened, or even traumatized.
A tranced rabbit’s heart begins to beat quite quickly. Heart failure and eventual death could result if your rabbit’s heart not being strong enough.
Also, it can negatively impact the rabbit’s trust and relationship with their caretaker.
If a rabbit is repeatedly placed in a state of tonic immobility, it can damage its trust in its caretaker and make it more challenging to bond with them.
For these reasons, it is best to avoid trancing rabbits whenever possible.
If you need to handle your rabbit, it is essential to do so safely and gently and avoid any actions that may cause them stress or discomfort.
Also read: Do Male Rabbits Spray After Neutering?
Why do rabbits trance themselves?
Rabbits don’t trance themselves voluntarily. However, they can sometimes become tonic immobility or trancing when feeling threatened or scared.
Trancing is an involuntary response and is not something that rabbits do intentionally or for their benefit.
Your rabbit may be going into trancing as a natural defence mechanism in response to specific situations or handling.
It can also be triggered by physical stimuli, such as being held too tightly, or by environmental factors, such as loud noises or sudden movements.
Some rabbits may be more prone to trancing than others, and some may be more sensitive to certain stimuli.
While trancing is a natural behaviour for rabbits, it’s vital to be aware of the potential risks and to take steps to minimize the likelihood of your rabbit going into this state.
If you notice that your rabbit is going into trancing frequently or in response to certain stimuli, you may want to speak with a veterinarian or a rabbit behaviour specialist for advice on how to best handle and care for your rabbit.
They can provide tips and strategies for reducing your rabbit’s stress levels and helping them feel more comfortable and secure in their environment.
However, if you find them trancing themselves, they should be softly picked up, turned over slowly, and held near the ground.
Ensure you are not holding your rabbit too high above the ground because some rabbits may turn to spring out of your arms the moment you turn them upright.
If you still find them stressed or terrified, try to comfort them by gently petting their head and spending enough time until they become normal.
Also read: Can I Let My Rabbit Play Outside?
Risks involve in trancing your rabbit.
Tonic immobility, or trancing, is a practice where a rabbit is placed in temporary paralysis or immobilization by holding them in a particular position or gently pressing it down on their back.
While trancing may seem like a convenient way to handle rabbits for various procedures, there are several risks associated with this practice, including:
- Stress: Trancing can cause significant stress to rabbits, which can harm their health and well-being. Stress can cause them to become anxious and depressed and even affect their immune system.
- Injury: Trancing can also cause physical harm to rabbits, particularly if they struggle or resist while being held in a particular position. It can lead to muscle strain, dislocated joints, and even broken bones.
- Hypothermia: When a rabbit is in a trance state, their body temperature may drop, leading to hypothermia. In addition, it can be hazardous for younger or older rabbits and rabbits with underlying health conditions.
- Respiratory problems: When a rabbit is in a trance state, it may have difficulty breathing properly, leading to respiratory problems. It can be particularly dangerous for rabbits with respiratory conditions, such as asthma.
- Death: In extreme cases, trancing can cause the rabbit to go into shock or even die due to a high heartbeat or heart failure.
It is essential to handle rabbits gently and avoid trancing them whenever possible.
If you need to perform a procedure on your rabbit, such as nail trimming or grooming, training them to accept these procedures without trancing is best.
Alternatively, consult with a veterinarian or a qualified rabbit handler for guidance on the best way to handle and restrain rabbits safely.
Also read: My Rabbit Died Suddenly.
What to do instead of holding your rabbit on its back?
Holding a rabbit on its back, also known as trancing, can be stressful and potentially harmful to the rabbit.
When holding a rabbit, it’s essential to be gentle and careful not to hurt or stress it.
Instead of holding a rabbit on its back, there are alternative methods that are safer and less stressful for the rabbit.
Here are some tips on how to hold a rabbit without trancing them:
- Use a towel: You can use a towel to gently wrap the rabbit, ensuring that its head and ears are not covered. It will help to keep them calm and prevent them from struggling.
- Support their hindquarters: When picking up a rabbit, support its hindquarters with one hand and its chest with your other. It will prevent them from kicking or struggling and help them feel more secure.
- Avoid restraining their legs: Rabbits have delicate bones and joints, so it’s important not to hold or restrain their legs tightly.
- Keep them close to your body: Hold the rabbit close to your body to help them feel more secure and prevent them from jumping or struggling.
- Use positive reinforcement: If your rabbit is nervous or hesitant about being held, use positive reinforcement techniques like offering treats and praise to help them feel more comfortable.
- Keep their head and ears free: Rabbits are sensitive to touch around their head and ears, so avoid covering them or holding them tightly in those areas.
Remember, every rabbit is different, so it’s essential to be patient and take time when holding and handling them.
If your rabbit shows signs of stress or discomfort, it’s best to stop and try again later or seek guidance from a veterinarian or qualified rabbit handler.
- Rabbits do not generally enjoy being on their backs. In addition, it can be stressful and uncomfortable for them to be in this position.
- Holding a rabbit on its back can cause physical discomfort and severe injury.
- When you put your rabbit on its back or upside down, it may appear frozen or paralyzed, known as trancing.
- Rabbits don’t trance themselves voluntarily. However, they can sometimes become tonic immobility or trancing when feeling threatened or scared.
- When holding a rabbit, it’s essential to be gentle and careful not to hurt or stress it.