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How to Trim Your Pet Rabbit's Nails

Learn how to trim your pet rabbit's nails in this Howcast video featuring bunny lover Amy Sedaris and rabbit expert Mary E. Cotter.


So we're going to talk about how to cut your rabbits nails. And a lot of people have trouble doing this at home and they end up making it into a two person job. I've seen this in a clinic, sometimes in a clinic they have two people doing it. It's actually less stressful for the rabbit if you can just do it yourself as you do at home as I do at home. Fewer people around the rabbit, less commotion. It's just much easier. You make it a one person job. Now this bunny has not had her nails cut before. And she's a rex rabbit. Her nails a little bit different then they are in a non rex rabbit.

What's different?

We'll take a look.


Let's watch. Their nails tend to be a little bit curlier in rexes in my experience.


And the vessel may be a little bit. These are pretty easy to see. This rabbit has both dark nails and light nails and it doesn't make any difference what color the nails are when you use this technique because what you're going to do with this technique is you're going to use the rabbit's own feedback to let you know when you're too close to the blood vessel. Instead of depending on your eyesight to see where the blood vessel which you may or may not be able to do. You're going to squeeze on the nail a little bit.

First of all you need scissors. Like little clippers like this right? Are these for cats or something?

I think they're considered bird nail clippers but I've seen them called kitty clippers too, sometimes they have a long spike down one of the handles. I don't like that, but I put the rabbit on a towel. I want her on a towel because I want her to feel good traction which she probably feels from these little rugs too and then I press her against myself and restraint is probably the most important part of doing a nail cutting. If a rabbit is carefully and gently restrained and not over restrained, you'll get much better results and I think you've seen this at home with Dusty too. Amy's rabbit hates to be restrained. She just really doesn't like this. So the less restraint you can use, the better off you are so what I do is I put the bunny against my body and I use this part of my arm, my rolled up sleeve to press against her hind quarters like this and I pick up just one paw and then I put the clippers around the paw, just the very tip. Don't try to go down too much. And I go press, press clip. And then I'm going to put it around this nail. Press, press clip. Why am I going press, press? Because I'm giving the bunny an opportunity to react to the pressure and the position of the scissors. If I'm too close to the vessel the bunny will suddenly pull back her paw and sometimes they'll shake the paw to show you that you've sinned.

And that's the same as what they call a quick. Right?

Yea. The vessel is the quick. And the bunny will pull her paw back if you're too close to it and that gives you an opportunity to reposition your scissors because what you've done by doing press press first you've made a little white line on the nail. And if the bunny is disturbed that you're too close to the quick. She'll shake her paw to get rid of you and then she'll quiet down again and you can pick up the paw and cut on the other side of the white nail. And it won't bother her at all. So we've done a couple of nails on that paw and they're are four pointing forward nails on the front and then a dill claw, a fifth one which is up on the side the equivalent of our thumb and that is always hard to see. So you just do your best.

She's being so good this bunny.

Press, Press Clip.


Thank you very much.

Look at you!

That was great. That was that paw. The next paw, you're going to stand the bunny on her hind legs supporting her chest and letting the paw hang down like this. You should be able to put your chin on her head and kiss her head.

Aw. She loves that!

And this is very easy nail to visualize.

You make everything seem so easy. Boy

Stop Stop. Press, Press clip. I put the scissors down in between and I isolate the hair from the nail with a really long haired rabbit and a lot of loppier rabbits have long hair on their feet. You can have a little bowl of water and wet down the hair around the nail. And the nail will stick out for you, this rabbit doesn't need that, her nails are very visible. And I developed this technique about fifteen years ago when I was working as the rabbit person at a shelter where I had no help because the head of the shelter was allergic to rabbits so I had to go in the back room and sit with rabbits and experiment with what they would allow me to do with their nails.

A little salon.

A little salon. We actually shot a video of this and we've been selling the video as a fundraiser for the last fifteen years or so and now other people are putting it on youtube and all of that we haven't done that with our video yet but it's based on the video that we did quite a while ago people have told me.

This video is better.

This video is going to be better. Now we're going to do the back nails.

All right.

So this is really fun. What happens, what I found out when I was experimenting with their bodies was that if you jiggle the foot while you're moving it the rabbit is distracted enough not to care very much as long as her weight is balanced on the other foot. So I want her weight on this foot because I want to cut these nails. I'm going to grasp this foot here and I'm going to jiggle it a little bit at the same time as I roll her weight on to this foot and I ask her to give me the foot.

Wow. They are like clown shoes.

Yes like little clown shoes. And I found out that virtually all rabbits will just hold their foot out there they'll let you work on their foot without any kind of resistance. I even used to play a game, now a days I don't have a lot of time to do that, but to get their foot relaxed I would do this put your left foot in and put your left foot out, and you do hokey pokey and you turn about. Remember? Get rid of that hokey pokey. It's a good way to have them just kind of relax and let you manipulate your foot, get them used to having their foot manipulated but you see that she just moves it out here. So now I'm going to do the same with the hind foot. Is there no dill claw on the hind foot so you only have four nails to work on.

Oh is there I didn't know that.

One two clip. And you do want to give a little bit of time but I'm not going to deliberately show you because I don't want to hurt the bunny. This is sometime this reflexve movement

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