Try picking up your smaller rabbits from the front. Place one hand under their chest and the other under the hind end. Lift the rabbit towards you, and let your rabbit rest its chest and front paws on your chest. Being held agaist your body tends to make them feel more secure, according to Marilyn Harriman, author of the House Rabbit Handbook.
It is often easier to pick larger rabbits up from behind. Get behind your rabbit and place one hand under the chest and one hand under the rump. You'll want to make sure you have the hind end well-supported. Once you have lifted your rabbit, you might find they feel more secure held sideways against your body, but try holding the head slightly higher up than the back end.
Putting Your Rabbit Down
Care is needed when putting your rabbit down, as the anticipation of being back on firm footing can make a rabbit try to wiggle out of your arms. If this happens, try to keep you bunny from kicking out and squat down close the ground as quickly as possible, so if your bunny does jump it won't be from much of a height.
Tip: Practice Makes Perfect
As mentioned earlier, rabbits often do not like being picked up, even if they are cuddly. Since there will come a time you need to pick up your rabbit (a trip to the vet, for example) it is good to practice picking up your rabbit. If you can teach your rabbit that being picked up is a pleasant experience, it will make picking up your rabbit that much easier. Try picking up your rabbit once or twice a day; lift your rabbit up, hold him or her very briefly, and then set him or her back down again, and follow up with a little treat. Your rabbit will come to learn that being picked up is not a threat; instead, being picked up will be a positive thing since it is followed by a yummy treat!
See Pictures and Video:
- How to Pick up a Rabbit - from Rabbit Rehome - discussion about picking up rabbits with photos to illustrate the methods for small and large rabbits.
- How to Pick Up a Rabbit - video from Expert Village (via YouTube) that shows the method for picking up a small bunny.
- Rabbit Handling Videos - series of YouTube videos from Bunnycentral.com, showing how to pick up a rabbit and put her back down. (The third hold shown on this page, cradling a rabbit on its back, is a more advanced handling technique reserved only for times when absolutely necessary).