Trimming Your Rabbit's Nails - A veterinarian makes it simple.

Trimming Your Rabbit’s Nails – A veterinarian makes it simple.

Disclosure: We may earn money or products from the companies mentioned in this post.

I visited with Dr. Crisanto Villarey, a veterinarian with years of experience taking care of pet rabbits, to talk about trimming your rabbit’s nails. Dr. Villarey did a wonderful job making the intimidating task of trimming your bunny’s nails simple.


Grooming is an essential component of a pet rabbit’s life. Like with proper nutrition, keeping your pet rabbit clean and properly groom is important in maintaining their health and prevent various health problems and illnesses. Grooming a pet rabbit includes fur brushing and trimming, eye cleaning, and lastly, nail trimming.

A rabbit’s nails needs to be trimmed regularly. If a bunny’s toenails are not clipped regularly, those nails can grow long enough to cause injuries to both itself and you.

If you don’t cut your rabbit nails they can get caught in crevices and spaces around the house and can be accidentally pulled out and lead to dislocation or fractures. It also increases the risks of joint problems in rabbits and long rabbit nails can be sharp enough to cause injuries to other animals and even to us humans.

Trimming your rabbit’s nails on a regular can help prevent these injuries and keep your rabbit healthy.

Do Rabbit’s Nails Keep Growing?

A rabbit’s nails grow continuously to ensure that rabbits have enough length to use for digging. Rabbits have five digits on each of their forepaws and four on each of the hind paws. All toes have tough, long nails, designed for digging, burrowing, and navigating through rocky terrains in the wild.

In the wild, rabbit nails stay short by being worn down by all the constant digging and scratching of the ground. But pet rabbits who are housed in comfortable enclosures, there is practically nothing for them to wear their continuously growing nails down, thus the need for regular nail trimming.

When Do You Need To Trim Your Rabbits Nails?

The rate at which the nails of a rabbit grows remains constant for most of their life. Ideally, rabbits’ nails should be clipped or trimmed every 3-4 weeks. This interval is enough to make sure that the nails do not grow long enough to cause injuries and health problems in your pet rabbit.

Trimming the nails at longer intervals may cause them to grow just long enough to get caught between narrow spaces. Waiting too long before trimming your rabbit’s nails can also cause the quick to grow longer.

A long nail blood supply directly affects the length of the nail you can clip off, and a longer quick can result in a permanently long nail for your pet rabbits.

The quick is the center part of your rabbit’s toenail and is the only part of your bunny’s nail that is alive. The remainder of the rabbit’s nails are just dead cells with no feeling or blood. If you accidentily cut into the quick when trimming your rabbits nails, the nail will bleed.

Drawing of a rabbits toe nail

Can You Trim Your Rabbits Nails By Yourself?

Clipping rabbit nails is quite simple and can easily be done at home with the proper tools. Most of the time, it is recommended to have at least two people perform the nail clipping task. One person will hold and position the rabbit for nail clipping while the other one slowly and carefully trims each of the rabbit’s nails.

It’s important to keep the rabbit still during nail clipping to prevent any accidents and injuries.

Rabbits that are docile and cooperative can be nail-clipped by one person, but care must be taken to avoid accidentally clipping the nails too short and injuring the quick.

If you attempt to clip your rabbit’s nails alone, keep in mind to not forcefully restrain any of the limbs as rabbits are at high risk of dislocations and fractures, especially when they start moving around during restraint.

If the rabbit shows any signs of resistance when being held during nail clipping, it’s best to let go of the restraint and let the rabbit calm down before attempting to trim the nails again.

Required Tools to Cut Your Bunny’s Claws

Fortunately, this job doesn’t take many tools or supplies.  Here is what you’ll need.

  • Rabbit 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 >>> }
  • Rabbit 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.

Best Rabbit Nail Trimmers On Amazon

These are my favorite rabbit nail trimmers, though they are made for cats. Giving that cats and rabbits are about the same size, these inexpsive bunny nail trimmers are perfect for the job. { Click here to see the clippers on Amazon >>> }

How To Trim Your Rabbit’s Nails

As mentioned, trimming your rabbit’s nails is a relatively easy task. Having the right equipment and knowing how to properly position and hold the rabbit are important for a fast, safe, and stress-free nail clipping experience for you and your rabbit.

A sharp, small, pet nail clipper can be used to trim a rabbit’s nail. Commercially available cat nail clippers are ideal because they’re small enough to allow for better visualization of the nails during trimming and provides enough control to avoid any accidents.

Dog clippers can also be used but their larger footprint may make it harder for you to see the nail during nail clipping and may increase the risk of accidentally cutting the quick.

Rabbits are generally jumpy in nature and will often make short, forceful movements with their limbs when they’re stressed or agitated. Properly holding and positioning the rabbit is the most important part of the nail clipping process.

A rabbit that is properly held will not move as much during nail clipping, which will make the task significantly easier and faster. It also eliminates any risks of dislocation, fractures, and other injuries that may happen when a rabbit resists and moves around when its nails are being trimmed.

The length of the nail to be clipped will depend on how long the quick/blood supply is. As a general rule, the nails need to be clipped at the level just beyond the end of the quick. In light colored bunny nails, you can often see the quick inside the nail making judgeing the proper length to cut much easier. Clipping any shorter might risk injuring the quick and cause bleeding and pain in rabbits. 

Clipping farther beyond the end of the quick may result in long nails still and the risks associated with it will remain. Additionally, cutting the nails too long will allow the quick to grow longer and will make the nail permanently longer since cutting at a level shorter than the length of the quick is not recommended.

The nails need to be trimmed at a slightly diagonal angle to allow the rabbit to plant their paws flatly and naturally on the ground. Nails that are cut too long or at an incorrect angle may cause changes in the way the rabbit sits or stands and may put too much stress on some joints and cause problems.

Oftentimes, newly clipped nails have sharp edges that can still cause injuries when rabbits use them to scratch themselves or others. Filing down newly-clipped nails with a pet nail grinder {See On Amazon >>>} or a nail file will help smoothen the edges and prevent any injuries arising from accidental scratches.

When To See A Veterinarian About Your Rabbits Nails

Though considered a simple task that can easily be done at home, there are situations where it’s best to ask your veterinarian for assistance in trimming your rabbit’s nails.

If your bunny is hard to hold and restrain during nail clipping it might be best if she was brought to a veterinarian since they’re trained at restraining rabbits to facilitate a faster nail clipping and prevent any injuries.

A veterinarian may also be better suited in trimming a rabbit with severely long nails, or those with abnormalities in the nail. Any injuries arising from nail clipping, such as bleeding from accidentally cutting the quick of the nail, to dislocation and fractures from the rabbit’s excessive movements, will require immediate veterinary attention.

Finally, if your bunny is from one of the giant rabbit breeds, you might want some help from your friendly veterinarian.


I hope this article answered all of your questions about cutting your rbbits nails. If we missed anything, let us know in the comments below.

~Stacey

Stacey

My name is Stacey Davis and my family has kept rabbits for decades. Here on RabbitPros.com we share our love of rabbits, our experience, and lots of research to help you enjoy your pet bunny even more.

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