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magicjames1
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Hi,

I am purchasing a bunny this week, but after a few months, I may introduce him into my magic.

I was wondering if there are things you can train your rabbit to do and how you prepare your rabbits for shows. Do any of you manage to teach your rabbits rules and tricks? How do you stop them from biting, etc., and how do you generally bring your rabbits up?

Thanks

James Smile
Dennis Michael
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A good strong chair, a hoop of fire, and a loud cracking whip will train that bunny to jump through the fire hoop.

The single most practical advice is handling your rabbit so it doesn't fear being petted. The rabbit's only defense is its sharp claws, and if frightened, it will freeze, but it will also defend by lunging with its claws. You don't need a scratched kid.

There is a lot of other advice in this section. Please read it here and in the archives.
Dennis Michael
Zack
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I train (actually, the appropriate word is TAME) my rabbits to be handled easily. This is very simple. Just pick the rabbit up and hold him in both hands, one hand across his chest, and the other supporting his butt.

At first he will kick. Allow him to do this until he calms down. (He can't hurt you in this position). Eventually, he will realize that you are not going to eat him, and this is just a dumb human game. (you can explain this to him...talking to the bunnies is a good idea).

Do this every day for awhile, holding him about 30 seconds at a time. After awhile, you will have a hand-tamed rabbit that will flop in your arms.

As far as tricks, note that all animal tricks exploit the natural tendency of animals to do things.

I believe that a rabbit could jump through a hoop. There is a new sport called Kainenhop or "rabbit jumping" which is basically a steeplechase event for rabbits. Having trained your rabbit to leap over a fence, I think a hoop would be easy.

You can also hypnotize a rabbit...this is very impressive to layfolk. Just hold him on his back, allowing his head to go backwards, and he will go out like a light.
p.b.jones
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Hi,

You can easily train a rabbit to select a card, or throw an object (usually a wand) on the floor when your back is turned.

Phillip
magicjames1
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Thanks very much for taking your time to reply. I've read the forums about buying a rabbit, but I want to see if you could tell me which type of rabbit would best fit my criteria:

It must be in a hutch/cage indoors;

It should be able to stay in the cage all day, but in the evening come and play around in the front room and be quite a fun and active rabbit; and It would have a bright personality, and would get used to being handled by me frequently.

Basically a friendly indoor rabbit, but not a rabbit that just lives freely in the house.

I would be spending A LOT of time with it.
I may use it in my magic, but it doesn't have to be extra small because I will use a large mirror box or anything I feel comfortable with.

Thanks.

James
p.b.jones
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James,

If you read all my posts at this link, you should find the info you need:

http://www.themagiccafe.com/forums/viewt......3&29

Phillip
Zack
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Basically you are looking for a rabbit with a good personality. That sounds simple, but it's not. Predicting rabbit personalities is difficult. Any breed may be nice or mean. Rabbit personalities range from being friendly to being downright violent.

The problem is that rabbits are bred mostly for meat, not pets. For this reason, personality is not part of the breeding program, the way it is for dogs and cats. This is changing though. There are a few breeds which have a reputation for having nice personalities:

Holland lops (actually ANY lop breed); and
Mini-rexes.

There are two things you can do to minimize your risk of getting a “bad” rabbit:

(1) Find a breeder that breeds for personality. This is a PET breeder. They do exist. Some will even guarantee their rabbits' personality. That is, if the rabbit is mean, they will buy it back.

Rabbit breeders are usually very amenable to dealing with magicians… after all, a magician who works with rabbits will buy several over his lifetime;

2) Get a rabbit from a rescue organization. Not a pound, but a rescue organization. These are rabbit lovers who rescue bunnies from the pound, and keep them in their houses. They become familiar with the rabbits, and can describe their personality to you. This is a good deal in a lot of ways
not only do you get a “pre-auditioned” rabbit, but in most cases, the rabbit will already be neutered and litter-trained. Also, the rabbit has been socialized by experts. It is also very economical.

You will pay a fee for the rabbit’s neutering. This will be around $70.00, which is cheaper than you could get it done, because they get a bulk rate. A rabbit from a good breeder will run you around $50.00. You could, of course, get one from a pet store for $10.00, but then you take your chances.

You can find a rescue in your area at http://www.rabbit.org

The downside is that resuces usually are very suspicious of magicians. One told me point blank that they would only adopt to me if I promised not to use him in the act. I was unwilling to lie.

Also, consider getting an adult. I know this runs contrary to instinct: the kits are so cute! But an adult rabbit will have his personality already formed. You might get a nasty surprise when an infant rabbit grows up.

Almost all rabbits go through a nasty period when they hit adolescence. Their hormones go crazy, and they will begin chewing, nipping, and spraying. It's during this period that most people give up their rabbits, which is a shame, because neutering will fix most of those problems. An adult rabbit will have already gone through this. Usually a rabbit that is one year old or older will have already gone through its wild period.

Some people I know insist on getting a baby, because they want to bond with it and train it while it is very young. There is definitely some logic to this.

As you can see, I love talking about rabbits. Feel free to ask me any questions that you have.

Good luck finding your new pet.

--Zack
magicjames1
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Thanks for all of your help. It really is great of you to make time to help me.
Which is the smallest rabbit of the 'lop' breed, i.e., Feench lop etc. (I know French lop are quite large)?

Thanks,

James Smile
Zack
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The Holland is the smallest of the lop breeds. The mini-lop is actually larger than the Holland, which sometimes causes confusion. French lops are very large.

Hollands are also ridiculously cute. They look like little teddy bears, with big snowshoe paws.

There's a site where you can see example photos of different breeds somewhere.
magicjames1
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I just got my rabbits. There are 2 normal lops. When I took them out of the box and put them in the cage, they struggled and then I did! What should I do so when I pick them up they don't try and get away? How do I get them confident enough to sit on my lap?

All tips would be great.

Thanks,

James Smile
p.b.jones
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Hi,

Keep picking them up every day. It is better to handle them 10 mins a day than an hour once a week. Be confident and make sure you support the back legs - - if not, they will kick, it will hurt you, and can harm them. Do not put your hand in front of their face for them to smell you, like you would a cat or a dog. They have poor eyesight for close things, and usually lunge at it, sometimes grunting.

Phillip
Andrew
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p.b.jones...

Perhaps you could share with us your techniques of training a rabbit to pick a card or throw a wand?

Thanks!
Andrew
Professional Provider of Wonderment!
www.andrewsfamilymagic.com
p.b.jones
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Hi,

Put the rabbit in a hat or box, get them to sit with their paws on the edge, and then put a wand on the hat in front of the bunny's neck if he does not throw it away. Putting the wand lengthwise (not poking with the end), press the wand gently against the bunny's neck (not hard, just enough to slightly annoy).

He will toss it to the floor, and then he will start tossing the wand when it is simply placed on the hat, but the bunny must be used to an audience.

Once the bunny will do this, if you fan a deck and hold it in front in a position similar to the wand, he will pull out a card in his mouth. This is not my technique and is just something I thought magicians knew.

Phillip
magicjames1
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Thanks p.b jones. Those are great tips. Any more tips and techniques would be great!

Thanks,

James Smile
Zack
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James,

Leave them alone for 24 hours. This will give them time to adjust to their new surroundings.

Then you can begin handling them, a few minutes each day.

Now, struggling a little when you take them out of their cage or put them back in is normal. (I'm not sure why, but it is.)

Question. When you take them out of their cage and put them on the floor in front of you, do they accept petting?

Another thing is, your rabbits may never sit on your lap. For some reason, rabbits frequently don't like laps, and instead they prefer to sit next to you and be petted.
boltt223
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James, I'm no expert on rabbits by any means, but my family and I hold my rabbit every day. I also bring it into the living room every other day to run around. Currently my rabbit is so tame that my daughters hold it on it's back like a baby. That is very cute to see. Smile
p.b.jones
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[quote]"Another thing is, your rabbbits may never sit on your lap. For some reason, rabbits frequently don't like laps, and instead they prefer to sit next to you and be petted.
[quote]
Hi,

This is very true and they are far more likely to sit/lie down on your lap, like mine on the photo at my website, if you allow them to get on you rather than trying to force them. Not yet, because bunnies are too young, but later try coaxing with a titbit. My bunnies go mad for a little bit of apple, cream cracker, or rich tea biscuit/cookie, though these are not good for them, so just for the odd treat please.

[quote]"Currently my rabbit is so tame that my daughters hold it on it's back like a baby. That is very cute to see."
[quote]
Hi, the bunny being rolled on his back is not a sign of friendliness, although your bunny could be friendly.

All/most bunnies will lie calmly on their backs, which is why the old bunny hypnosis thing works. It was accepted for years that it somehow calmed the bunny, but now the consensus is that this is not really the case, instead, the consensus is that if we are thrown temporarily off balance and are scared, we panic, but bunnies just keep very still. That's why I NO LONGER HYPNOTIZE ANY OF MY BUNNIES. It would be difficult to argue with a rabbit lover that adopted this view, as it has now become the accepted view by most pet rabbit associations such as the BRITISH HOUSE RABBIT ASSOSIATION. So I do not do it.

Phillip
magicjames1
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Hi,

Thanks again for all your info. I was a bit nervous before, but now it's great.

I can now pick both of the rabbits up (one at a time). They sometimes struggle, but once they are against my chest, they love it. Now when I sit down, they lie totally across my lap, I stroke them for ages and then they sort of vibrate, like a purr!?

If they stuggle, I just keep talking to them, and they just sit still.

When they are in their hutch and I open the door, they do just sit there and let me pet them.

The only thing is that when my family is around all looking at him whilst I'm holding him, he struggles and he doesn't really relax. But once he knows he's safe, then the next time he's ok!

Today I'm getting a lead so I can take them around the garden. I'm also getting some toys for them.

Any other suggestions of things to buy?

Oh, and just before I put the rabbit away, I always hold it under its legs across its chest with it on my lap, and it just sits there camly (on its back). Its head starts to drop back, but I hold it and just put him back. Is that hypnotizing him? If I let him stay on his back for awhile, will he just drift to sleep?

It would be helpful to check him at the vets and get him calm, but I don't want to harm him.

Thanks,

James
Zack
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Philip,

The jury is still out on the hypnotizing issue. The truth is, that nobody knows what is going on with rabbit hypnosis, whether it is fear or calmness. Several sources (including some members of the HRS) recommend trancing as a means to calm your bunny down.

I do NOT believe that trancing is harmful or scary to a rabbit. It may be a little disorienting, but there is no way that the rabbit is frightened. When rabbits are frightened, their whole bodies tense. Trancing is exactly the opposite.
p.b.jones
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Hi,

Yes, this is true, no one knows, which is why you cannot argue against people who hold the view that it is bad for the bunny... so I leave it out.

Do you really want people making this sort of fuss at your shows?

Phillip
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