Blood and Starch

I started my day off on a good note this morning: hands covered in rabbit blood, fur and cornstarch.

It has been a long time since I last trimmed the bunnies' nails. Trimming their nails is my least favourite chore - I would rather wash all the dishes by hand every day rather than trim their nails once every month. The reason why is mostly because rabbits are dumb and don't realize I'm trying to help them.

Thomas, Buster and Nobbers

Most rabbit owners can trim their buns' nails by creating a so-called bunny-burrito: wrap the wretched thing up in a towel so it can't move and then fish out each paw, one-by-one, to clip the nails. This generally works for two out of three of my rabbits; the boys Thomas and Nobbers will quickly become resigned to their delicious-sounding fate and will submit to being groomed. Buster, my large, rowdy female? Not so much. She responds by kicking, biting, obsessive licking, hyperventilating and sometimes peeing. And she's a spiteful little bitch to: once you unwrap her you don't get a tip, a "thank you" or even a simple lothesome glare: she'll look you straight in the eye and bite you, before flicking her tail and running off.

Does NOT approve

I devised a solution. I build a tiny cage out of storage cube grids. I put a rabbit inside, lock the door and then begin grooming. Their paws/nails poke out of the bottom for easy access, and they aren't being bullied and devoured physically restrained so they don't panic. Mostly. Consider it on their end: they're happily doing rabbit things, when suddenly they are snatched away from their comfortable home, soared through the air, stuffed into a tiny metal cage, and their their feet are accosted for no apparent reason. Buster usually responds by panting, spinning around aimlessly, and peeing. The other two just kind of hunch down and take it. When they're released, they inevitably turn tail and flick their back feet at me - apparently the way rabbits express displeasure. I always feel chastised when they do that... but at least it's less traumatic for them this way.

An accurate rendering of the bunny torture chamber
containment device grooming aid

There is one extra problem: quicks. Like dogs, rabbits have a vein that runs through each nail for a short space. If you cut their nails too short, you will cut the quick and cause them to bleed and hate you. The quick is easy enough to see if the rabbit has pale nails: you can shine a flashlight through it to see. With dark nails, like Thomas has, it's much more difficult. Thomas also has long quicks - he always has.

You can see where this is going.
I always leave Thomas to last because it terrifies me to cut his nails. I start shaking, feeling sick and sweating whenever I start trimming the rabbits' nails, and Thomas is the worst. On one occasion previously I made him bleed, and that was enough to scar me for life.

Well, I did it again this morning. *Snip* - and then he jerks back and now there's bright red everywhere. I frantically searched the cupboards for cornstarch to staunch the bleeding nail, and made a huge mess trying to smear it on a wounded rabbit. It was about this time that T walks into the kitchen - I'm holding a small bowl of pinkish non-Newtonian fluid, squatting in front of a rabbit torture device, my hands are covered in starch and blood, and there's an alarming red smear on the floor (which he immediately steps in as I warn "Watch the blood!").

You are the worst owner.

The worst part is that Thomas is more pathetic than indignant when I let him go: he just curls up in as small a ball as possible and looks terribly sad.


What the hell kind of animal has a vein in their nail? Shit.

9 things about

Blood and Starch
  1. I just took my daughter and one of her friends out to see "Hop" today. I don't suppose there's any chance one of your rabbits shits jelly beans is there?

  2. I don't know, what do brown jelly beans taste like? Chocolate? Root beer, maybe?

  3. Oh jesus that sounds terrible!

    I used to have rabbits, never trimmed their nails. Why do their nails need trimming? Just curious.

    Mine wandered around in the lawn.. until one day an even more horrible fate than bleeding nails befell them. Some horrid stray dogs jumped the front gate (WTF KIND OF MONSTER DOG IS CAPABLE OF JUMPING A 6-FOOT HIGH GATE) and carried all seven of them off, presumably to enjoy for lunch.


  4. omg you made bunny sad :( if you were close by i'd have you try your hand at mty cat albert. he's pure joy to trim his name.

  5. Yeah, outdoor bunnies don't have much luck... you have to trim their nails if they're indoor rabbits because they don't wear them down and they will overgrow [making it difficult/painful to walk]. Rabbits with dirt to dig in will wear down their own nails, but then they have other dangers...

  6. When I had rabbits, I wasn't the one to cut their nails, but I did have to clean their hutches regularly, which was my most hated chore. Especially when I had three, it was a Saturday morning and I would always get a bad back after from too much crouching...

  7. Tom: Urgh, I can imagine the mess... my buns are indoor-only and I have their pen set up so that it's completely collapsible and easy to move. I can just shove part of the wall out of the way then sweep and vacuum it in under 20 minutes. It took a few tries to get a cage that was that easy to clean; my first two attempts were multi-level affairs that were sooo hard to clean. I can't believe how messy rabbits are. >.>

  8. HAHAAHAH! LOOOOVE the doodles! Did you get a tablet??

  9. Nooo, not yet! Just GIMP and a mouse. Hence the super sketchiness! :P


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