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We've had our rabbit for just over a week, he is 15 weeks old.

Handling him is going well, except when I put him back in his cage. He is scared and kicks out, which I've learnt to handle by holding him firmly until he calms down. However, the final transfer to his cage generally earns me some scratches on my chest.

I returned to the pet store for advice and the lovely lady showed me how to place a rabbit down, backwards with rear feet first. This was great and I even got to practice with a shop rabbit. However, getting home I realised the crucial difference - in the shop I was placing the rabbit onto a waist-height platform, while at home his cage only has two entrances, both of which I find challenging.

picture of rabbit cage

Right before putting him down, I'm holding him to my chest. My right hand is supporting his backside, while my left hand is cupping his skull with a finger between his ears. (This was a position the shop taught me). I try and complete a final movement by shifting my left hand under his front legs and using my right hand to deposit his backside into the cage. Due to the need to put him down and across into the cage, he panics and kicks out.

Clearly my hold is not filling him with confidence. Does anyone have suggestions for how to handle him so he feels safe during the final placement into the cage?

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Putting a rabbit into a cage can be difficult. With the cage you have, the best solution is to have them hop back in by themselves.

Even a rabbit that is extremely used to being handled can/will "struggle and flail" during the transition from being held to being put down. I have an 8 year old rabbit (Ruby) who will happily sit on my lap for an hour or more, If I carry her to the other room, she is fine but as soon as I start to put her down she often (usually) starts wiggling/flailing, etc.

The floor of your home, is slippery so I would put a doormat on the floor in front of the cage, then use food or a treat to encourage her to jump in herself.

The fold down front door can be a safety issues. Much like wire bottom cages, crossing the fold down door can cause broken toes In the image below I have converted the door to hinge at the side, more detail at Is a bedroom enough space for a bunny to be happy?

Door rehinged to the side

Holding a rabbit is problematic, see Will I ever be able to hold my rabbit?

It is hard to tell from your description, but there may also be cage aggression you can learn more about it at How can I help my rabbit be more comfortable with my influence on her cage?

You have also probably noticed that she is mostly using one corner to go to the bathroom. If you take out the green room thing, and put a litter box in her bathroom corner it will make cage cleaning easier, we have several posts about toilet training rabbits

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  • +1 Thanks for the response. I may attach something to the door to turn it into a safe ramp (thin slice of wood cable tied to the bars). You mentioned the green thing - will the rabbit be happy without some kind of home/cover? – Duncan Jones Feb 11 '18 at 18:06
  • @DuncanJones Covering the door/ramp is a good solution as well but use wood that is safe to eat. She will chew on it. The whole space is her home so the covered thing does not really add value. A cardboard box (plain brown) can be fun to play in and around (she will eat it). Covered areas don't really add value unless there is a whole room, and even then most (but not all) rabbits spend little time in them. – James Jenkins Feb 11 '18 at 18:12
  • Ah, ok. I thought the rabbit would need some kind of enclosure to hide in. – Duncan Jones Feb 13 '18 at 6:49
  • @DuncanJones you can kind of think of a rabbit as vegan cross between a cat and a dog. They use a litter box, come when you call them (with training) enjoy attention and like to snuggle. They also like to chew wires so if you have not already, you will want to bunny proof behind the couch – James Jenkins Feb 13 '18 at 11:13
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At first pet rabbits will scratch you when you put them in a cage. The trick is to not move them around a lot when you pick them up and to do it quickly. I lower my bunny and allow her to jump down from my hands when she is close to the ground (1 foot or 30 cm) to insure the safety of both of us.

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