How to Catch a Pet Rabbit

Three Parts:Locating the Rabbit and Blocking Escape RoutesCapturing the Rabbit SafelyIdentifying a Domestic Rabbit

Rabbits are good pets, but they can also be wily. When one gets out, she may be difficult to catch easily, but you can do it with the help of some fencing or pens and a few friends. You may also need to catch a domestic rabbit in the wild that someone has abandoned, as domestic rabbits are not equipped to survive on their own. Therefore, you need to be able to tell a domestic rabbit from a wild rabbit; you would not want to trap a wild rabbit accidentally, as they do not make good pets and should stay in the wild.

Part 1
Locating the Rabbit and Blocking Escape Routes

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    Block out some time. Rabbits are smart and fast. In fact, pet rabbits can run up to 35 miles per hour, faster than a house cat.[1] In addition, they're back legs are designed for jumping, meaning they can leap far away from you quickly.[2] Since your domestic rabbit's ancestors were not predators, they survived by running away and hiding well.[3] You may need a couple of hours to catch a pet rabbit outside, as it will likely take you more than one attempt.[4]
    • Argente Crèmes, grey and white rabbits that pet owners often show, and English lops, brown and white bunnies with floppy ears, are both particularly skittish, so they might be harder to catch.[5]
    • Similarly, Belgian Hares, named so because they look like wild hares in dark brown, may also be difficult to catch as they are particularly quick and smart. Beverens, medium-gray bunnies, Rexes, bunnies with a spotted coat, and Lionheads, a fluffy brown bunny, are also smart.[6]
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    Gather some friends. It's much easier to catch a rabbit if you have several people on your side. With more people around it's easier to herd the rabbit where you want her to go.[7]
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    Have a carrier ready. You want to be ready when you do capture the rabbit. Therefore, have someone standing by with a carrier, so you can pop the bunny in once you grab her.[8]
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    Create a makeshift enclosure. The best way to catch a rabbit is to create a makeshift enclosure. Hopefully, you will already have something on hand to create this enclosure, such as exercise pen enclosures. Basically, you want something tall enough and wide enough that you can create an enclosure around a rabbit outside.[9] When you eventually surround the rabbit, more than one person will need to be holding pieces of the enclosure as you make it smaller around the rabbit.
    • You can use 2-by-4s and chicken wire to make fence frames to have on hand. These should be at least 3 feet high, though many rabbits can jump higher than that. The width is up to you, but you should consider the length or width of your car if you plan to transport them. Hold the frames together with hinges.[10]
    • You can also use a puppy pen or deer fencing to create an enclosure.[11]
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    Find the rabbit. If you haven't already spotted the rabbit, look for signs of where she's been. You might see rabbit droppings. You might also see places where the rabbit has chewed on plants or where she's dug small holes. These signs will point you in the direction of the rabbit.[12]
    • Sometimes it's easiest to just sit and watch the area. Leave out some treats that your rabbit likes, and see if she comes out.[13]
    • Check for holes near fences, as that could be a sign she escaped the yard.[14]
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    Close escape routes. If you are in a yard, it's best to close off any escape routes before trying to capture her. Shut the gate. Cover any holes you found near the fence line, so she can't escape that way.[15]

Part 2
Capturing the Rabbit Safely

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    Guide the bunny away from traffic. Roadways are, of course, dangerous for rabbits. If possible push your bunny away from these areas so she won't get hurt. You can guide her away from these areas by using people as barriers, as she'll likely run away from them.[16]
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    Surround the bunny. Watch the rabbit to see where she hides. Build a large enclosure around her using the exercise pens or wood-and-chicken-wire frames. The easiest way to surround the rabbit is to have several people holding different pieces, forming a large enclosure. Hold the pieces to the ground so the rabbit cannot escape underneath. Slowly work the enclosure smaller by taking out sections while still maintaining a tight circle, making it easier to trap the bunny. Just be sure you don't leave anywhere that she can escape.[17]
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    Pick up the rabbit. Once the enclosure is small enough, you should be able to gently pick up the rabbit.[18] It is easiest to climb in the enclosure with the rabbit. When picking up the rabbit, make sure to support her back end, propping her feet against your body if possible.[19]
    • Secure the legs by wrapping your arm around the outside of her body and then around the underside of the rabbit. Use your other arm to wrap the other way around the body, securing the shoulders.[20]
    • The best way to capture the rabbit is to get on the ground with her. Talk to her gently and see if she will come to you. She'll be less threatened by you if you're closer to her level.[21]
    • If that doesn't work, you may need more than one person to trap her in a corner. Scoop her up from a standing position.
    • Never pick up a rabbit by her ears. You'll hurt her and frighten it.[22]
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    Put her in the carrier. Once you've capture her, place her in the carrier for easy transport. Even if you are just taking her back to the house, it's easiest to carry her secured in a carrier, as she may jump out of your arms. Have the carrier in the enclosure with you, so you don't risk her escaping again.[23]
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    Call in the experts. If you fail at capturing your bunny, try calling animal control. If they are not too busy, the animal catchers may be willing to help you. They will have nets on hand, which will make the job easier, and they will know how to use the nets to capture your rabbit.[24]
    • Using a net to catch a rabbit is actually quite difficult. If you are not trained in catching animals this way, it's unlikely you'll be able to do it.[25]
    • However, if you can sneak up on the rabbit, you may be able to throw a net over it to catch it. Depending on how close you are to the rabbit, a bath towel or a sheet can be a useful aid. Try to corner the rabbit, so they cannot retreat, then throw the towel over the rabbit. Scoop the rabbit up in the towel.
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    Don't try to catch the rabbit without enclosures. Most rabbits, even affectionate ones, will run before you can capture them. Because they are so quick, they can get away before you even get close, or they may run as you try to reach for them after petting them.[26]
    • In addition, they will learn and will be even more skittish the next time you corner them.[27]
    • They are also able to elbow themselves into small spaces that you won't be able to follow.[28]
    • However, you can fool the rabbit into thinking you have an enclosure by holding a towel sideways and touching the ground. You can then corral the rabbit into a corner and throw the towel over them.
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    Skip live traps. Live traps can capture a rabbit, but rabbits also can outwit them. In addition, you need to keep a close eye on the trap, as other animals can kill rabbits who are inside.[29]
    • If you do decide to use a live trap, try one that has openings on both sides, which will make it more likely that your bunny will enter.[30]
    • Also, with a live trap, make sure to entice your bunny in with a good treat, such as bananas or carrots.[31]

Part 3
Identifying a Domestic Rabbit

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    Look for lop ears. Not all domestic rabbits have lop ears, but all rabbits with lop ears are domestic. Lop ears are when the ears hang down (like basset hound ears) rather than stick back or up.[32]
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    Guess at the weight. Wild rabbits are usually smaller than domestic rabbits. Wild rabbits weigh in at 2 to 4 pounds. If you think the rabbit is bigger, she's more likely to be domestic.[33]
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    Check the coloring. Wild rabbits all have the agouti coloring.[34] That means they have variegated grey, brown, and tan fur. Domestic rabbits also sometimes have this coloring, but unlike their wild cousins, their bellies are usually lighter. They also come in a variety of other colors, including silver, palomino, chocolate, and tan, and they may have markings on their legs (often dark) or shoulder (often white), as well as spots, depending on the breed.[35]
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    Watch for social behavior. Wild rabbits will be afraid of you and likely run as soon as they see you. Domestic rabbits may be more social. They may even come and ask for attention.[36]
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    Look at the head shape. Domestic rabbits will have a more curved forehead. On the other hand, wild rabbits are more triangular in their faces. Also, wild rabbits have thin ears, meaning you can almost see through them at the ends.[37]

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Categories: Handling and Moving Rabbits