The Bun Life - Certified Nail Clipper

It's been a bit since my last post, been pretty busy with work, etc. Also, I don't just blog for the sake of blogging, either. Some bloggers resort to telling people all the mundane details of their lives, as if everyone wants to hear how little Johnny pissed in the closet for the last 2 months while sleepwalking, or the progress of Josefina's root canal therapy.

Yesterday was the dreaded "nail clipping" day, which I am sure all of you bunny people just love, right? Wrong. I must say though, I am proud of being able to clip all of their nails, when I first got a bunny I couldn't even envision being able to handle a bunny that well. After years of training, I have finally completed Bunny Nail Clipping school. I received my diploma and certificate in the mail today. Here, I scanned it for you, so you can look at it, click on the pic to bring up a larger version.

Neat huh? I even got a lifetime supply of styptic powder as a parting gift. You should see me now, I am a real pro at clipping. Seriously though, for those of you not yet efficient at clipping your rabbits' nails, maybe the following pointers will help you:

Update 9/24/11

I just wanted to add a note here about what Styptic Powder is, just in case anyone reading this doesn't know. In the store, it looks like this:

Styptic Powder is what's known as an Anti-hemorrhagic (or hemostatic), which means it assists the body in stopping or slowing the bleeding from an open wound. It does this by various mechanisms, from promoting coagulation, increasing tissue contraction, to increasing platelet stickiness in the surrounding area. Sounds really healthy huh? Don't worry, it is virtually harmless when used according to instructions. It can be used on your bunny if you accidentally clip the nail's wick, which will start bleeding when cut. Don't misunderstand me, if you've clipped the wick, you've made a mistake. It is painful for the bunny. To put it in perspective for you, how painful do you think it would be if I pulled your tooth's root out far enough where I could then clip it with a pair of cutters, without Novocaine? Yeah, it'd probably sting a little I bet. So, do your best to spot the end of the wick and cut over it. If you can't see it, have someone else look, if you absolutely must cut because the nails are exceedingly long, then leave extra room above where you think you should cut, to be as safe as possible.
  • Relax. Your bunny is naturally paranoid about everything to begin with, they can sense your apprehension, and most likely they will jerk back right as you are about to clip the nail. Try to be confident, or at least fake it as good as possible, believe me.. it makes a big difference.
  • Let There Be Light. Since your bunny's comfort largely depends on you missing the wick of the nail, it is vital that you give yourself enough light so that you can spot the end of the wick. This is even more important with dark nails. Aside from room light, I keep a mini flashlight nearby, so I can get up close to the nail if need be.
  • Don't rush. I never rush it anymore, I put the bunny up on the counter, and then I spend about 10 minutes petting them, scratch behind the ears, etc. They begin to relax, then I begin the nail trimming. I try to make the experience start and end on a good note.
  • The hind legs, or hocks, are the most stressful for the bunny. They use their front paws to manipulate their surroundings all the time, but they do very little with the hocks other than move and scratch. So, they simply aren't used to having their hocks touched, let alone clipped. My trick is to wait until I do the front paws, then I pet the top of the hocks, just like I would when petting them on the head. Most will jump at first, but that is okay, the more you do it, the more accepting they will be of it. This works great for me.
  • You're In Charge. You have to be persistent as heck with some bunnies, Thumper is a perfect example. I lift his leg to cut the nail, he pulls away, so I do it again, and he pulls away, then I keep doing it until he resolves to himself that he won't be done until I am able to clip the nail, then he relents. Frannie doesn't mind being clipped at all really, she is great with that. Sydney is tough but he is a lot smaller so he is easier to keep still.
  • No Frills Kills. A nail trimmer for a rabbit must be of good quality, and sharp. Otherwise you will be crushing the nail instead of cutting it, which is very painful for the bunny. The nails can splinter and hurt the bunny, as well as infection of the wound. Get a quality trimmer, and keep it sharp, your bunny will appreciate it.
  • Water. I keep a glass of warm water nearby, so I can dip my fingers into it and just wet the little bit of fur around the nail, which gives you a better view, and less of a chance to clip hair along with the nail, which is painful.
The more you practice doing the nails, the easier it will be. Don't resign to the fact that you can't clip them yourself, because you can. Best of luck!


  1. The water tip is genious! Otherwise, you cut your bunnies nails standing up? I would definitely get bit if I tried to touch their feet when they could help it I think. Usually I hold them on their backs, making the back feet a LOT easier to do than the front feet, and generally expect tog et kicked in the face but generally not bit. Maybe it would be easier to do the front feet on the upright bun, and then flip him on his back and pop off those back toes real quick?

  2. It all depends on the bunny. NONE of my bunnies would let you flip them, put them on their back, etc. They just schiz out every time. The reason I stand them upright (by lifting up with my hand under the front paws) is so I can rest their weight on the hock that I am NOT clipping, once I do this then I can wiggle their other hock forward a bit to be clipped. They feel secure because their weight is on the other hock.

  3. I didn't even get any laughs for the "In Fran We Trust"??? Wassup wit dat???

  4. I am hopelessly unable to trim my rabbit's nails. This is a great 'how to' for cutting nails, thanks. (Putting a rabbit on their back is dangerous for so many reasons. And putting a rabbit in a trance is equal to putting them in a coma, also to be avoided.)

  5. I am absolutely totally in awe of you. I wouldn't even consider cutting nails. Cleaning butts and syringe feeding is all I can manage. We're at the vets pretty often for front tooth burring, so I happy to let the vet do all the mani-pedi work, big chicken that I am. The tips are great, you've worked very hard for that certifcate. Congratulations.

  6. First off, cleaning butts and syringe feeding rabbits aren't easily acquired skills either. I would bet Frannie's dew claw that you could someday get certified too. If you're interested, I can sell you my books for the test. I paid nearly $400 for them, and now they just collect dust. I would go $150 for the lot, there are five of them, for you since you're a Bun Life gr.. err subscriber. Just to clarify, the five books are Nail Clipping Fundamentals I and II, Wick Theory by N. Clipowitz, Hock Anatomy, and Lord of the Flies (Not sure why we had to read this one). Let me know if you're interested.

  7. $150 dollars for all of that knowledge sounds like a bargain to me. Is it a written exam or a practical assessment at the end?

  8. Pepper, I'm sorry, I don't mean to be disrespectful but, I don't do free consultations any longer. If you want one-on-one nail clipping training, you'll have to book two months in advance now. I take cash and credit cards, let me hand you over to my secretary Fran, she is gonna take your payment info. Have a nice day.