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Last updated: 04 Nov 2000

Wash your hands every time you handle your rabbit?

"Dad, let the professional do the job. You don't know how to do it!" exclaimed the 10-year old boy who did not want his rabbit to encounter pain.

"You will hurt the rabbit and cause bleeding. I can't bear to see it" continued the young owner of the rabbit.

A very handsome rabbit with very long nails was brought to see Dr Foo. The owner would want nail clipping every 3-6 months and Dad had to sacrifice part of his afternoon to drive his Mercedes to the vet to get the nails clipped. Petrol prices and car use will cost more than the nail clipping service at the vet but this Dad dotes on his son.

"Why not let the rabbit more space to exercise so that he will wear out his toe nails without the need to clip?" enquired the Dr Foo.

"He likes to jump and may fracture his legs. I have to confine him in his cage." That sounds logical as rabbits have been known to dislocate their hips and fracture their thin legs.

"It is not difficult to clip your rabbit's nails.  Put the rabbit on the table. Ask Dad to hold its skin behind its ears. Don't pull its ears. Use a clipper and cut below the pink area which contains the blood vessels.  You will not cause bleeding.
Put the rabbit on a table: easier to restrain rabbit to clip nails.
Put the rabbit on a table. One person to   grip the skin fold behind the ears to  restrain the rabbit.  The other person to clip the nails.  It is not easy to clip the rabbit's nail at the floor level. Use a table.

"For darker nails you will have to estimate the length to avoid cutting into the nerves and blood vessels." Dr Foo had explained this before, but the boy prefers a "professional" to do the job. No unqualified person mucking around to hurt his pet.  Nothing much can be done but to persevere with educating Singapore's younger pet owners. 

Many Singaporean children seldom have a chance to be with nature and to handle animals.   Some teenage girls do scream when a big pet dog comes near them.

"I need to wash my hands. Where's the bathroom?" the boy asked. Dad also has to wash his hands. 

This is because the mother says that hands must be washed every time the rabbit is handled. The mother avoids touching the rabbit as she has no interest in companion animals.

"You don't need to wash hands every time you touch your clean rabbit young man.   Have you heard of the OCB syndrome?"

"No," said the Dad as he was going to wash his hands too.

"OCB refers to Obsessive Compulsive Behaviour.  A person can become fixated to being so clean that he must wash his hands every time he touches some objects. Examples are shaking hands or in this case, the rabbit.   The hand washing becomes a compulsive habit in some people."

You can wash your hands before meals but it is not necessary to wash your hands every time you handle your pet rabbit if he is clean and in excellent health.  Let him exercise daily rather than being confined in a cage all day long. You will need to supervise him as he may chew telephone wires and other things in the apartment and if he jumps a lot.

Wash your hands when you touch your rabbit is an educational article for pet lovers,  excerpted from The Glamorous Vets, Singapore, supported by  AsiaHomes Internet


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