It is recommended that you groom your rabbit at least once a month or more often, depending on your rabbit’s fur length and type.
Rabbits shed four times a year, alternating between heavy and light sheds. During heavy shedding periods, daily brushing is in order.
Keeping in mind that rabbit skin is delicate and can tear quite easily, choose only safe and rabbit-friendly grooming tools. These include flea combs, nail clippers, soft bristle brushes, scissors and shavers especially for rabbit fur, amongst others.
Never use metal slicker brushes, as it snags long-furred rabbits’ fur which may cause pain and skin-tearing, even bleeding.
Preparing Your Rabbit
To ensure the grooming process goes well, calm your rabbit down – also known as “trancing”. You can cradle it on its back or in your lap, while gently petting its face and nose for it to relax and be still.
However, be warned that some rabbits will come out of the trance abruptly and may fall off. To avoid hurting your rabbit, sit on the floor or a short stool. Bring your rabbit out of the trance by slowly returning it to an upright position.
Brushing its Fur
Regular brushing helps to get rid of any loose fur that rabbits might ingest, to prevent a buildup of hairballs.
Regular brushing also prevents matting. Mildly matted fur can be untangled by flea combs, and a pair of scissors to gently break out mats. Pay attention to which side your rabbit frequents lying on, as mats are more likely to develop there. Go slow so as not to hurt the rabbit. Using a soft bristled brush, brush off any loose fur.
Trimming its Nails
Rabbit nails should be regularly trimmed. Overgrown claws can break easily, which is as painful as it looks, and hinders their free movement.
Be careful to avoid cutting into the quick (or the vein) of the claw, as this causes pain and bleeding. Cornstarch or antiseptic powder can help stop the bleeding. Use a flashlight if you have to, and trim just below the quick.
Cleaning Scent Glands
Occasionally, the scent glands of the rabbit – located along both sides of the genital mound – will need cleaning. They are visible if you gently press the area beside the genital mound, and a bit of a pungent odour and some dark waxy material is normal.
However, if the waxy material has hardened, gently soften it with a moistened cotton bud and drag it away. Do not dig or irritate this area.
With practice and patience, grooming sessions should be an enjoyable time for you and your bunny.