Monthly Maintenance Checklist
Keep your House Rabbit in Tip Top Bunny Shape
- A Towel – For your lap or make a bunny burrito
- Clippers – I prefer the guillotine for large nails, and scissor type for petites.
- Styptic Powder & Cotton Balls/Pads – Just in case you clip the quick.
- Q-Tips – For anal gland cleaning.
- Disposable Cup Full of Luke-warm Water – To dip Q-tips into for anal gland cleaning.
- Flashlight – To shine behind the dark nails to spot the quick.
Rub your hands over your bunny’s body. Check for lumps, bumps, scratches, cuts, rashes etc. Cuts and scratches can turn into abscesses so be sure that cuts are cleaned and check frequently.
Don’t forget to feel the cheeks and jaw line. But be careful when going underneath the chin, as some bunnies will bite when you do this. (you can also do the jaw and chin check later when you check the teeth) Soon, you’ll know what normal bumps and lumps are, making it easier to spot new ones.
Info & picture of a severe case of ear mites at
Check for gunk. Most bunnies with upright ears can keep their ears clean, and especially if you have two rabbits, they clean each other’s. But some lops may need a little help. If there is a lot of gunk, it could mean several things, including mites or infection – both which should be seen by a vet.
Is there discharge? Are they runny or cloudy?
Some bunnies, like my Rucy, had chronic tear duct blockage problems. This was due to scar tissue built up from jaw abscess surgeries. Most of the time her companion, Jack, kept her eye clean. But I had to keep an eye on her eye, otherwise if unkept, her tears irritated the skin around her eye causing hair loss and pain.
Check for discharge, crusties in the nose, and make sure there is a clear pathway. If it’s green and dusty, then you may need to shake out your hay a little and sift your rabbit’s pellets to get all the millings and powder out. This can help prevent it from getting in their lungs and causing problems.(Tip by member: HoppyBunny)
NOTE: For the following steps, Teeth, Nails and Anal glands, you’ll need to secure your bunny.
If you’re not used to securing your bunny, have someone help you, and stay very low to the ground just in case your bunny wiggles free. Stay calm. Your nervousness won’t help a nervous bunny.
Trancing – I am not a huge fan of this because though it looks like your bunny is relaxed, this is actually a prey response to stress. I only recommend this when other options don’t work. Nail Trims are a must and so just try to get it done as quickly, but as carefully as possible.
I secure my bunny on my lap between my legs. I put her on her back and pet her head – that calms her down, sort of a semi-trance.. Make sure your bunny can’t kick out its back legs and injure itself.
NOTE: Bunnies can actually break their back by kicking into the air so hard.
So I always lean in over the back legs or use part of my arm to secure the legs.
Bunny Burrito Wrap
For hard to handle bunnies, like my bunny Jack, you can also wrap your bunny in a small blanket or towel. People have their own best way of doing this, but just be sure not to make it TOO tight. Just enough to keep him/her secure. Some put the towel over the bunny first and scoop him up, or they pick the bunny up and wrap the towel around. It really depends on you and your bunny.
Be sure not to let your bunny get over heated. If you feel s/he is getting too hot, you may need to give him break.
Teeth & Gums
- Check gums to make sure they are a healthy pink (not white, red or purple)
- Check the front teeth to see if they are wearing down properly and that there aren’t chips. If you do find a missing incisor, take your bunny to the vet to prevent infection. Abscesses in the gums can be very aggressive. .
- Bunny breath is nice! If stinky, there could be something wrong like an abscess. (unless she just ate something gross)
- This is also a good time to check for bumps and lumps around the jaw and chin if you couldn’t do it before. Though some chins look damp when the bunny loves to chins stuff, if it’s very wet, it could mean there are some dental problems and a vet should check it out.
If your bunny has a malocclusion and/or spurs – check to see if the incisors need a trim by your vet. You can’t check the spurs because they are too far back into the mouth, it all depends on your bunnies growth cycle and you and your vet will be able to determine how often they will need to be checked.
Rucy gets a spur trimmed by her vet every 3 months. But time flies, so it’s good to mark it on the calendar.
The quick is the pink flesh part INSIDE of the nail. You don’t want to cut that. IF you do, don’t panic. That is what the styptic powder is for. Put the powder on a cotton ball and apply pressure. (Cornstarch works too, but most styptic powders come with a pain reliever.)
For those who haven’t clipped nails before, it’s a good idea to have an expert teach you, or have someone help you until you get the hang of it. Here’s a great link to help guide you. Exotic Pets Website
UPDATE: We found a great video that helps people trim their bunny’s nails in a way that keeps their rabbit calm. Stress free for both human and bunny alike http://www.rabbitcare.org/video.htm. You have purchase it from the New York HRS, but your $$ goes to a good cause.
- If you’re still getting used to trimming nails, then trim just the very tip. It’s better to be conservative until you gain confidence.
- Tips for dark nailed bunnies. I use a flashlight to highlight behind the nail to help spot the quick.
- If the hair between the nails is long and blocks your view, DO NOT TRIM fur, just wet down the fur to get it out of the way.
- If you haven’t trimmed in a while, the quick can grow long, if you find that in your bunny’s case, then just trim slightly each month. The quick will eventually recede back to normal.
This is a good time to check crooked/broken toes and for sore hocks.
Sore hocks are sores that can develop on the bottom of rabbits feet. They need to be treated right away, as they can become infected. Some bunnies have a visible small pink pad, and that’s normal, but if it’s bright red, and/or bleeding, it needs treatment.
Rexes have a tendency for sore hocks because the fur on their feet is thinner than other breeds.
Learn how to prevent sore hocks. Check out this article from the House Rabbit Society
Anal Scent Glands (EEEYUCK!)
These are little slits located on either side of the genital mound. They are pretty well hidden, but once you’ve found them, you gently open and “WHEW Stinky!” – But don’t worry, the smell quickly disappears.
This is where that disposable cup filled with lukewarm water and q-tips come in handy. I just place it right next to me and dip the q-tip into water and gently swab out the area.
Check every month. You’ll soon find that some bunnies build up a waxy substance very quickly while others only need cleaning a few times a year.
GIVE YOUR BUNNY A TREAT
For goodness sakes, it’s not easy being prodded and probed.