How to Put a Rabbit in a Trance

Many seasoned rabbit handlers use trancing (or tonic immobility) as a way of grooming and checking for health issues. However, the behavior is considered dangerous by some experts and should not be used with a pet rabbit.

Rabbits are prone to heart disease in a similar way to humans and can die if stressed enough, so this technique is not recommended for general interactions or routine health checkups.


Many people cradle their rabbits, often in a similar way to how a baby is held. This can help to relax the rabbit and create a sense of security. The cradling position can also be helpful for physical development, as it allows the rabbit’s arms to swivel free and reach out for their parent’s face.

Rabbits have a natural ability to enter a trance. This is called tonic immobility and is a defense mechanism that rabbits use to avoid being preyed upon in the wild. This trance can be induced by turning the rabbit partially, or fully, over on its back.

While this trance is not a pleasant situation for a rabbit, it is a necessary reaction to predators in the wild. It can give the rabbit enough time to escape if it is captured.

However, putting a rabbit into this trance is not recommended. The stress of the trance is extremely damaging to the rabbit’s body and can result in death. This is especially true if the rabbit has any health problems, such as respiratory or heart disease.

The trance is also difficult for the rabbit to break out of. When a rabbit is in a trance, they will have increased heart rate and blood pressure as well as higher levels of the stress hormone corticosterone.

This is a sign that the rabbit is experiencing intense fear-related stress and is afraid of their surroundings. The rabbit will also flatten their ears and widen their eyes, which is a behavioural response that shows the rabbit is afraid and worried.

Despite this, some people do cradle their rabbits in a trance, particularly if it is to perform grooming or clipping their nails. It is not recommended that this be done as part of a rabbit’s regular grooming or check-up routine, as it puts an incredible amount of stress on the animal.

Rabbits that are tranced frequently will start to anticipate this and become stressed more quickly. Eventually, this pattern will become automatic and the rabbit will enter the trance more often.


Many rabbits can go into a trance when lying on their back. This can seem like an odd quirk of nature, but it is actually a sign of extreme stress and fear.

Rabbits are prey animals and when they become scared, they release stress chemicals that heighten their senses in a flight-or-fight response. They also become still and immobile, which helps them avoid being caught by a predator.

While this is a normal reaction to being in danger, it should not be used as a way of handling rabbits. Instead, they should be handled at ground level as this is less stressful for them.

When a rabbit is put in a trance, they appear unconscious and seemingly unmoving, but they are actually experiencing a stress state called “tonic immobility”. This type of trance was once thought to be relaxing for rabbits, but studies have shown that it can cause them to increase heart rate and blood pressure, as well as increasing plasma corticosterone levels.

This can lead to a rabbit feeling as though they are tethered, which can be dangerous and can even result in cardiac arrest. This is why it’s important to only handle your rabbit for a specific reason, and always approach them with respect.

The best way to handle a rabbit is to place one hand under their two front paws and the other under their bottom. This prevents them from kicking out and causing injury.

Once they are securely held, you can lift them by scooping them up and supporting both ends of their body. For large breeds, this can be done chest-to-chest; for smaller breeds it’s more common to lift them with their back against your chest.

If your rabbit becomes too anxious, they might start to squirm around and try to jump out of your arms, so ensure that they are in close contact with you at all times. It is also important to ensure that you don’t accidentally turn your rabbit over on their back while you are trying to pick them up.

A not so rabbit savvy groomer once tried to clip her rabbit’s nails while it was in a trance, and the poor bunny died in her arms within minutes of being flipped onto its back. It was a very stressful experience for both the bunny and the groomer, so it’s very important to never trance your rabbit for any reason, especially when you are trying to clip their nails.


Many people want to put their rabbits in a trance for a variety of reasons. They may think that doing so will allow them to groom more easily or they might think that it will help them relax.

Putting your rabbit in a trance is not recommended and it can be dangerous. It can cause your rabbit to become extremely stressed and can even result in their death!

Rabbits are naturally prey animals and as such they have a flight, fight, freeze response when faced with a threat. This is why when you flip your rabbit over on their back they will tuck their head down and look at the floor, freezing in fear.

This behaviour is also often seen in some rescue rabbits and is a sign that they are scared, distressed or anxious. If your rabbits are exhibiting any of these signs, it is best to talk to a vet about how you can help them feel better.

Trancing your rabbit can be difficult to do, so it is important that you follow a few steps to ensure that it is a safe and enjoyable experience for all involved. Begin by sitting at your rabbit’s level and gently petting them, keeping your hands low so they feel relaxed and comfortable around you. Once they feel that you are a trustworthy person, start to pick them up and place them in your arms.

When you pick them up, place one hand under their chest and the other under their hind legs. Hold them firmly but gently, supporting both ends and never restrain them by their scruff or ears.

If you have a bunny that is prone to stress or has been through a difficult situation, it may be more suitable for you to use a technique called tonic immobility rather than putting them in a trance. However, this can only be used when necessary and should be supervised by a vet.

In a trance state, your rabbit will have reduced awareness and be very suggestible, so it is not recommended that you do this regularly or repeatedly. If you need to do it, practice it while kneeling on the ground and only do short sessions to allow your rabbit to get used to it and understand that this is not something to be worried about.


Rabbits are known to go into a trance when they are put on their backs and have their heads stroked or rubbed. This looks extremely cute to humans but it is not a good idea for rabbits as it creates great stress in them and can even lead to physical damage, such as spinal injuries or paralysis.

In a trance, a rabbit can still feel pain and hear loud noises but they can’t move. This is called tonic immobility, or TI for short and it occurs in other animals as well, including sharks, frogs and swifts.

Some rabbit owners claim that putting their rabbits in this trance mode allows them to be calmer and more relaxed. Some also say that their bunnies can be more responsive to cuddles after a trance.

The practice of trancing is controversial among rabbit experts and animal welfare advocates, but it does exist. It’s a technique that can be used to keep a rabbit still so that it can be easily handled or restrained for medical purposes, but it should only be done when it is absolutely necessary.

There are many reasons why a rabbit might go into a trance on their backs, but the most common is that it is a way for them to access pleasurable sensory experiences. This is particularly true for the sense of touch, as they have a lot of receptors on their backs that allow them to feel and enjoy tactile experiences.

Another reason that a rabbit might go into a TI state is when they’re in danger of being hurt or threatened by predators. They may be unable to move or escape so they might try lying on their backs and then going into a trance in order to avoid danger.

Some people believe that this is a defense mechanism, and they might also be trying to avoid being seen or detected by a predator. However, this is a very rare and instinctive response that a rabbit will have when in fear or danger.

If you’re interested in learning more about putting your rabbit in a trance, speak with your vet. They can help you understand the risks and make sure that it’s the right option for your rabbit.

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