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Ah, the dreaded task of clipping a rabbit’s nails.
I’ve had rabbits for nearly 20 years, so I’ve clipped my fair share of nails, and only been bitten once in the process.
How often should you clip your rabbits nails?
So the rule for this SHOULD be that you only need to clip then when they get too long, but there are a couple of reasons why I personally think it’s worth clipping them regularly whether you think you need to or not.
- Sometimes it’s hard to tell if your rabbit’s nail need clipping, and I can’t give you an exact measurement. Generally I clip mine if their claws are protruding much beyond the fur on their feet, but mine have furry feet. If you have a non-furry footed rabbit, this isn’t much use.
2. As a rabbit’s nails grow, so does the quick, which where the blood supply in the nail is. If your rabbit has black nails, there’s no way to tell where the quick is, so if you wait until the nails are super long, it’s a bit of a guessing game, and you risk cutting the quick.
Instead, just commit to cutting a little bit off the nails every month or so, rather than cutting off a lot at once. This is especially useful in rabbits that have super long nails and you have no idea where to cut too. Cut little and often.
How to tell when your rabbit’s nails need clipping
As I said, mine have furry feet, so I tend to cut once they’re protruding.
If your rabbit has very curly claws, you may need to cut them more often than rabbit’s with straighter ones, because they can interfere with the way that they walk.
Holly has one curly nail that impedes her zooms, so if we notice fewers zooms, we check her nails. Usually only that one needs clipping, but we just take a little bit off each.
What to use to clip your rabbit’s nails
Use special small animal clippers, like these ones:
They’re pretty cheap and you can get them one Amazon. Don’t use human nail clippers – you’ll just end up pinging claws across the room, if you can even get the blade through the claws.
How tell where to make the cut when clipping your rabbit’s nails
Rabbit claws bleed SO MUCH if you accidentally hit the quick. Have some cornflour on hand to tem the bleeding, just in case.
If your rabbit has clear nails, move near a window or lamp so you can see the quick – it’s where the blood supply is. I’d insert a picture, but my rabbit won’t let me get close enough.
If your rabbit has black nails, you can’t see the quick.
If you’re nervous, just take off the very ends of the nail. Commit to doing trims every month, and you’ll be fine. As the nail grows, so does the quick, so if your rabbit has very long, black nails, don’t be tempted to take off too much. Little and often is better.
How to clip your rabbit’s nails yourself
Don’t attempt to do this on your own. Enlist a friend.
The first method is to pick up your rabbit and hold them with one hand under the butt and one under the front armpits. Hold their back against you chest, and down, so the bunny’s butt is on your lap. Hopefully, their arms are extended so they can’t bite either you or the clipper BUT make sure you keep a firm grip. They can sense you loosening your grip and twist away.
Your primary job is to hold. Offer advice on the clipping if you wish, but you’re their to hold.
The clipper should just need to clip. Your rabbit will probably flinch a little every time they clip but if the quick is accidentally caught, it’ll hurt your rabbit (not a lot, so don’t worry too much) and they’ll jump, so make sure you’re hanging on tight.
This is why I recommend that you’re sitting down, so there’s less chance that you’ll drop the rabbit, and if you do, the rabbit won’t have far to fall.
The clipper also needs to keep an eye out for teeth when clipping the front nails. If you elevate the arms a bit they’re further from the teeth.
I’d still recommend getting an assistant,but if you’re on your own, this is the easiest way to clip nails.
You’ll need a towel.
Lay the towel on the floor, put bunny on towel, Wrap towel around bunny.
You are now the proud owner of a bunritto.
One by one, gently pull each limb out from the towel, and trim the nails. If you’re on your own, you may have to secure the bunny between your thighs.
Now, this is how our vets trimmed our aggressive rabbit’s nails, and she didn’t bite them BUt if you’re worried about biting you can gently lay the towel over your rabbit’s head. They’ll still bite, but they’ll take a second to either throw off the towel or they’ll bite through the towel, providing an extra level of protection.
How to stop your rabbit’s nail from bleeding
If you do catch the quick, you can stop the bleeding with corn starch. I highly recommend clipping nails on a day when the vets are open, so that if you can’t stop the bleeding you can easily take them in.
In my experience, claws only bleed for a minute or so, but if I’m ever clipping nails I do it on a weekday just in case.
There’s no shame in outsourcing rabbit nail clipping to the vets
If the thought of clipping the quick scares you, feel free to get your vet to clip your rabbit’s nails. If our rabbits EVER go to the vets we always get them to do their nails. Same goes for if your rabbit is being sedated for any reason – ask your vet to clip their nails.
Now, vets aren’t magic – they can’t see the quick in black claws either BUT they’re a great person to have on hand if they do catch it.
I’ve noticed that vets are pretty conservative when it comes to clipping nails, so don’t go expecting your vet will clip your rabbit’s claws more thoroughly than you would.
Seriously, clipping a little bit often is the way to go.
Clipping nails is one of those things that gets better with experience. Don’t leave your rabbit’s claws to get super long, thinking you can clip them all in one go, because the quick will get super long too, so you’ll risk hurting your rabbit when you clip them.
Rabbit’s nail grow at different speeds. Some rabbits have super slow growing nails, and never need trimming. Others grow super fast and need trimming often.
Scratching posts CAN help, but I wouldn’t rely on a scratching post to keep claws short.
And if you want to make your vet do it, go ahead. As long as your rabbit has claws that are a comfortable length, it doesn’t matter how they get that way.