Rabbits are beautiful and adorable little creatures, but they can also be wily. When a rabbit manages to escape, it can be difficult to catch as they are quite fast. If you’ve lost your pet rabbit or found a lost bunny in your yard or the park, you can make catching them less challenging if you know what to do.
To catch a lost pet rabbit, you can hook two or three exercise pens together to encircle and trap them. You can also set up the pens in a half-circle and herd the rabbit into the enclosure. Other methods of catching a lost rabbit involve using a blanket, pop-up pen, net, or live trap.
This article will explain each method in detail and what to do after catching a lost pet rabbit. You’ll also learn how to find your lost pet rabbit, how to identify a domestic rabbit from a wild one, and other tips that can help you catch them easily.
Tools Needed to Catch a Lost Pet Rabbit
To make your job of catching the lost bunny easier, here are a few tools you should have on hand:
- Bait (sweets, leafy greens, alfalfa hay, bananas, oats, or rabbit treats)
- Water and bowl
- Exercise pens (or blanket/pop-up pen/live trap/bat net)
The Circling Method
This method involves using exercise pens. You can purchase exercise pens at your local pet stores or online. The more pens you use, the larger the circle you can create and the better your chances of catching the rabbit. Also, having a few extra hands makes your job of capturing the lost bunny easier.
The circling method works best when the rabbit is cornered or hiding under an object like a car or furniture. If you have two or three more people working with you, you can form a large enclosure and trap the bunny in a corner.
The key to this method is to get the rabbit far into the corner as much as possible and then trap them in the circle created by the exercise pens. Alfalfa hay, leafy greens, bananas, cut apples, carrots, pellets, or rabbit treats can be used as bait to bring the rabbit toward the exercise pens.
The Herding Method
The herding method is a slight variation from the circling method. In this method, the pens are hooked together in a half-circle 10 feet (3 meters) away from the rabbit. The idea is to herd them from the opposite side of the pens into the enclosure. Using multiple pens helps to create a larger enclosure and avoid getting the animal spooked.
This method requires at least one person stationed at each end of the hooked pens. You may also need some bait like alfalfa, carrots, bananas, cut apples, or rabbit treats. When the rabbit gets into the enclosure, the people stationed on both sides would quickly bring the edges together to close the gap.
The Blanket Method
As the name suggests, this method involves using a blanket to catch a rabbit. It is more effective when used with a large blanket. Like the two previous methods, having extra helping hands helps increase your chances of catching the rabbit. It also requires a bait in the form of apples, carrots, or rabbit treats.
To catch a pet rabbit with a blanket, place the bait in an open, flat area. Allow them to get more relaxed and comfortable around you. It is easier to catch a calm bunny with a blanket than a tensed one. Be patient and offer more treats to the bunny until they trust you.
When the rabbit is close enough, swiftly spread the blanket over them and secure them to the ground. However, if you’re not fast enough, the rabbit can quickly escape from under the blanket.
The Pop-Up Pen Method
The pop-up pen method works better for an approachable rabbit. As mentioned earlier, you can gain their trust and love by offering them food and treats. This method doesn’t require an extra hand to catch a rabbit successfully.
To catch a rabbit with this method, place the bait in the pop-up pen and wait for them to enter it. Since the rabbit is now more relaxed and comfortable with you, they will be less-cautious when entering the pen. Once the rabbit is in the pop-up pen, quickly block the exit to trap them inside.
You can also use the pop-up pen like in the blanket method. When the rabbit is within touching distance, flip the pen upside down and toss it over them.
The Trap Method
This method involves using a live trap. However, live traps are not the most effective as rabbits can outwit them, and you’ll need to keep an eye on them in the morning and evening.
A better option is to use a DIY animal trap. It is more humane and easier to use. All you’ll need is a stick with a V-shaped tip and a large box or container. Making the trap is easy: tie a string to the stick and wedge the box into the stick’s V-shaped part.
Place the bait inside the box and once the rabbit enters, pull the string as fast as possible to trap them inside.
The Bat Net Method
Using a bat net is one of the quickest ways to catch a lost pet rabbit. However, it should only be your last resort. Because a net can easily injure the rabbit, it’s best to avoid using just any type of net. Their limbs can get caught in the mesh, and because a rabbit gets scared easily, they can break their limbs while trying to escape.
If you have to use a net to catch a lost pet rabbit, we suggest using a bat net. Most bat nets have a fine and soft mesh that won’t crush the rabbit or trap its limbs. Using a net to catch a rabbit requires some skill.
When you sight the rabbit in your yard or the park, do not chase them with the net. Instead, place some alfalfa hay in the area and sit down on a flat surface. A flat surface is needed to ensure that the net mouth can trap the rabbit without leaving any room for escape.
The key to using a net is to gain the rabbit’s trust by talking calmly to them. When the rabbit smells the alfalfa hay, they’ll cautiously approach you. Again, don’t rush or chase them with the net. Allow the bunny to get relaxed and comfortable with your presence, then quickly trap them with the net.
What to Do After Catching a Lost Pet Rabbit
If you manage to catch a lost bunny, you need to ensure they are safe until they are united with their owner again.
- Place the rabbit in the carrier. Regardless of the method you use, transfer the rabbit into a carrier immediately after you capture them. A carrier helps to keep them safe and prevent them from jumping out of your arms.
- Call the vet or animal rescue. After catching a lost bunny, the first thing you should do is to notify the local vet, shelter, or rabbit rescue. The owner of the rabbit may have already informed the center about their missing pet. This way, the bunny can be quickly reunited with their owner.
- Check the rabbit’s health condition. Check the bunny for any signs of illness or injuries. Assess the rabbit’s overall health condition, and if you find any signs of bleeding, parasites, broken limbs, abrasions, or breathing difficulty, you need to take them to the vet immediately.
- Look for a nest. If the bunny you found is a baby, search for its nest around the area. Some areas to check include flower boxes, under piles of leaves, shallow depressions in the ground, and under pieces of wood panels. Return the bunny to the nest once you find them.
Why Did Your Pet Rabbit Escape?
One of the reasons why your rabbit can escape from home is curiosity. Rabbits are little explorers who always want to have new experiences. They will continuously wonder what lies beyond their enclosure and can run if they get the chance.
Your rabbit can also escape if they sense a potential danger. Rabbits get scared or nervous quickly because they are prey animals. They spook at the smallest sign of danger, and fleeing is key to their survival. A rabbit is also very sensitive. If they are unhappy, they’ll likely escape looking for a better place.
How to Find Your Lost Pet Rabbit
Pet rabbits are exposed to all sorts of dangers when exposed to the wild. Their brightly colored coats give them no chance of survival in the outdoors, and they don’t know how to forage like their wild counterparts.
If your rabbit has escaped from your home, don’t panic. It probably hasn’t gone too far, and chances are it is still in your yard. However, if you sense your rabbit has left your yard, it’s best to take action immediately and not assume they will find their way home.
Search the Area
When rabbits escape from their enclosure, they can dig a hiding place for themselves if they are spooked or feel threatened. The first place to search is your house. Search every room, check behind and under the furniture, and inside the cabinets, shelves, drawers, and bookcases.
Be sure to check every other possible area in your yard. Look under the cars, bushes, and other areas. If you can’t find your bunny in your yard, check your garage and search the area adjacent to your house.
Inform Your Neighbors
As you search your house and adjacent area, let your neighbors know that your rabbit is missing. Ask them to help you check their yards, sheds, and garages. Give local parks, prairies, and fields your contact and tell them to inform you if they see your pet.
It is also an excellent idea to let the kids in your area know about your lost pet. Kids are great detectives when it comes to searching for missing pets.
Leave the Hutch/Cage Open
Your lost pet rabbit may still be able to find their way home by themselves. Keep the hutch open always and leave their favorite food in the cage. Don’t give up on the possibility of finding your rabbit. Make fresh water and milk available when they come back. You can also station someone there to keep an eye on the cage.
Put Up Posters and Flyers
If you still can’t find your rabbit after searching your house and area, it’s time to let the public know that they are missing. Print flyers and posters with a photo of your missing rabbit and include your name and contact details.
Depending on your area, you can put up the posters on notice boards and shops. You can also put the flyers in light posts, mailboxes, and other places with high foot traffic.
Use Social Media
Social media can be a great way to inform people about your missing rabbit. Post the news on Facebook, Twitter, and Reddit. Be sure to include a clear photo of your lost pet and ask your friends to share it with their friends and spread the word.
One of the biggest advantages of using this method is that the news can spread really fast as your friends share it with their friends, who also share it with their friends.
Inform Your Local Vet, Pet Rescue, or Shelter
Call your local vet, animal shelter, or pet rescue and inform them about your lost bunny. Be sure to provide specific details of your pet to them and your contact details. Someone might have found a similar rabbit and contacted them. If the bunny is yours, you can rest assured that they will be returned to you.
Identifying a Stray Rabbit
If you’re walking in the park and you spot a wandering rabbit, the first thing you need to figure out is whether it is a wild or domestic rabbit. If the rabbit is domesticated, you have to rescue it because it is not meant for survival in the wild.
Telling a wild and domestic rabbit apart is easy if you know what to check. If you come across a lost rabbit, keep your distance, and study its physical features. If you can’t determine its species through its physical appearance, you can tell from its behavior.
Domestic rabbits come in different shapes and sizes. There are several breeds, so you should expect some inconsistency in their appearance. However, they mostly have spotted coats with varying colors, patterns, and lengths. They have a fuller body shape with chubby cheeks and wide, round eyes.
Domestic rabbits mostly have lop ears, but they can be upright when they’re attentive. The size of a domestic rabbit can vary from dwarf to giant, depending on the breed. However, most giant breeds are domesticated.
The behavior of a pet rabbit can also give it away. Domesticated rabbits are more likely to approach you as they trust humans more than wild rabbits. They are also slower and easier to catch than wild rabbits.
It’s easy to tell a wild rabbit apart from a domestic rabbit by observing its physical features. A wild rabbit will almost certainly have a brown coat, with variations from light to dark. The coat of a domesticated pet rabbit is also less coarse than that of a wild rabbit. Wild rabbits have a longer, thinner head and a leaner body shape than domestic rabbits.
The ears of wild rabbits are mostly long and upright, and their eyes are narrower or almond-shaped. Their tails are also shorter and have a white underside. Also, wild rabbits have a particular size they can reach. They also weigh less since they also have to forage themselves and provide their own safety and shelter.
Wild rabbits live and sleep in burrows, and you’ll rarely find them alone. Also, a wild rabbit would never willingly approach you. They are faster, and if you manage to catch one, they’ll fight, kick, and twist in an attempt to escape.
Additional Tips When Catching a Lost Pet Rabbit
- Seek help from one or two people to catch the bunny. Rabbits are speedy animals and can be challenging to catch, especially when they don’t trust you.
- The best time to attempt to catch a lost rabbit is early morning or late evening when they are more active.
- Guide the rabbit away from the roadside or areas with high traffic before attempting to catch them.
- Avoid chasing the rabbit unless you’re using the herding method.
- If you’re using the live trap method, transfer the rabbit to a carrier immediately after catching it to avoid stressing it.
- Only use the net method if you don’t find success with other methods. Secure the bunny immediately to prevent them from twisting and kicking.
Catching a lost pet rabbit is not difficult if you know where to look and what to do. The circling method is the easiest and most humane way to catch a lost bunny. It works best if the rabbit is trapped in a corner or hiding under an object. If that method fails, try the herding, blanket, or pop-up pen method.
You can also use the live-trap method, but it’s less humane. You should only use the bat net methods if all others fail. Be sure to keep a carrier or crate handy to transport the rabbit after catching them.