Reasons to Trim Your Bunny’s Nails
A rabbit’s nails continually grow, just like yours do. If their nails are not filed or cut regularly, they will get crazy long.
For wild rabbits, their life naturally grinds their nails down. As they dig burrows, dig for food and run on rough sand & gravel, their claws are constantly filed to an appropriate length. However, your domestic rabbit doesn’t live like that so they’ll need a little help from you or your vet.
Nails that are too long cause your rabbit to walk unnaturally which could cause them joint discomfort or even pain.
They also present a safety issue for your bunny rabbit because they could get caught on rugs, mats, or wire cages and actually be torn out! While a torn out nail won’t kill your bunny, they do cause weeks of pain and discomfort for your bunny and make a bloody (literally) mess for the first few hours. P.S. A torn out nail will grow back in a month or two.
Long claws on your bunny also become a safety concern for you as they could accidentally scratch you.
Required Tools to Cut Your Bunny’s Claws
Fortunately, this job doesn’t take many tools or supplies. Here is what you’ll need.
- Nail Clippers. A small set of quality small animal nail clippers makes the job faster and easier. Since this is going to be a tool that you use regularly, invest is a decent pair. See on Amazon >
- Styptic Powder. This is used to stop bleeding which can occur if you cut too deeply into the rabbit’s nail. We’ll talk more about this later, but it’s good to have this on hand just in case. If you want to learn more, we wrote a quick little article about the safety of Styptic Powder on rabbits. See on Amazon >
- Towel. It’s nice to have an old towel on hand. You might want it to wrap your bunny up so she feels safe and secure, or you might need it to clean up a mess.
What is a Rabbit’s Nail Quick and Why Do We Not Want to Cut It?
Just like your nails, the tips of your rabbit’s nails are just dead cells with no feeling or blood. You and your bunny’s nails are also similar in that they are alive where they are growing out of your toes (or fingers) and the live part has both feeling and blood.
Unlike you, your rabbit’s ‘live’ part of the nail extends out into the nail. This live part of a rabbit’s claw is called the “Quick”.
If you cut into the Quick, your rabbit will be fine…but not happy. When you cut into the Quick, it hurts the rabbit for a moment and it bleeds a lot which is why we have the Styptic Powder in the Required Tools Section.
Styptic Powder is safe for your bunny rabbit, even when she licks it later.
If your bunny starts bleeding and you don’t have Styptic Powder readily available, you can use plain old Corn Starch from your kitchen. It doesn’t work as fast and makes a bit more of a mess, but it will stop the bleeding and is safe for your bunny.
If your bunny winces and starts to bleed after you clip a claw, just stay calm with the knowledge that your bunny will be fine. In just a few moments, the quick poke of pain will be gone and all you’ll have to deal with is the blood which makes a mess but is not a danger to your cute bunny.
Most bunny rabbits have kind of translucent nails, and you can actually see the quick within the nail. For darker colored nails, a flashlight often helps you see the Quick as you learn how far down to trim your rabbit’s nails.
Once you get the hang of it, avoiding the Quick becomes almost second nature. Like all skills, it just takes practice.
Steps to Trim Your Rabbit’s Nails
- Stage Your Tools.
- Get a Friend to Help. With practice for both you and your bunny, you’ll be able to easily do this job by yourself. However, for the first few times, it’s much easier if you have an extra set of hands and some moral support.
- Calm Your Bunny & Yourself. Don’t start this job if anyone is stressed out, it’s only going to make things more difficult. Play with your bunny as you normally do, until he or she can lay relaxed in your arms.
- Pick a Nail and Find the Quick.
- Clip The Nail Tip. Most of us clipped off very little of our rabbit’s claw the first trim we trimmed them. That’s ok. Next time try to take a little more off so you don’t have to do this job as often. In time, you’ll be a pro!
- Move to the Next Nail & Repeat Until Done.
- Love and Cuddle Your Bunny!
Cutting your rabbit’s nails really isn’t as scary as it sounds at first.
Stay calm, take your time, practice with your bunny.
If you are really nervous about this, practice without the clippers. Just go through the motions of cutting your rabbits nails, just without the actual cutting.
This will allow your bunny to get used to having his paws, toes, and nails messed with. It will also give you time to get confident in the handling of your bunny’s toes before you add the actual clipping.
If you’re still scared, consider taking your bunny to your veterinarian and watching them trim her nails the first time. Once you see it, it won’t be as scary.
You got this!
~ Your rabbit friends at RabbitPros.com