Be vewwy quiet...
April 15, 2011 3:59 PM   Subscribe

How do I catch a rabbit?

About two weeks ago, somebody dumped a domesticated black and white bunny at the edge of the woodsy park opposite my house. I'd like to catch him* but haven't had much luck. From another rabbit owner, we borrowed a humane trap -- a cage with a door that's triggered by the rabbit stepping on a plate -- and baited it with carrots and apples, but I get the feeling he knows all about cages and won't go in. (He'll happily munch on dandelions right next to it.)

He's skittish enough that I can't get within 10 feet of him before he bounds off into the safety of the blackberry bramble. We have a screening fence that he can easily go under, and perhaps because of the protection it provides he likes to visit our yard at dawn and dusk. The trap is currently in my yard as a result, though initially it was placed close to where we believe he hangs out in the park.

We have willing adopters lined up if we can catch him. What do rabbits go crazy for? Is there rabbit-nip? Are there more effective trap styles?

(* or her, of course)
posted by rouftop to Pets & Animals (15 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Is it a unique rabbit? Because that would change my answer...

Here's some information on catching a stray rabbit.
posted by SpacemanStix at 4:07 PM on April 15, 2011 [4 favorites]

Response by poster: @SpacemanStix: It's neither unique nor tame. :-)
posted by rouftop at 4:11 PM on April 15, 2011 [1 favorite]

Best answer: This happened to us just a few months ago.

I ended up calling our local House Rabbit Society, and a couple of ladies from there came and caught the bunny. If you have a local bunny rescue, see if they can help or offer any other advice.

Tips I picked up:

1. Bunnies love bananas, and they're usually a special treat.
2. Work at dawn and dusk. This is when rabbits are most active, going out foraging and stuff.
3. Sit down and slowly let the bunny come toward you and show it the back of your hand like you would a dog or a cat.
4. If you do manage to catch the bunny, leave its hind legs loose. If you hold them too tight, apparently, they can kick so hard they break their backs.
5. Do not leave the trap unattended for long periods. Check on it every half hour at least, and don't leave it overnight, especially if it's cold where you are.
posted by ernielundquist at 4:49 PM on April 15, 2011

You're certainly not alone in this predicament. When I lived in England I found exactly the same type of rabbit abandoned in the woods and picked it up after a bit of a chase and kept it for years. Weirdly, I found another abandoned black and white lop rabbit while out running in Vaucluse in Sydney a couple of months ago. I caught it by chasing it constantly over open ground for ten minutes to tire it out, as rabbits are good at sprinting but humans have much better stamina than most animals. If you get two or three people to cut off the escape routes into the brambles and chase it constantly it'll probably soon give up and sit quietly to be picked up.

The few times my latest rabbit has escaped during exercise time I've just got on my hands and knees and quietly 'made in' to it, just as you do to a falcon sitting on the lure or a kill. The important thing is to be very quiet, move very slowly and above all don't tower over it. Then when you're close enough, in the case of an escaped rabbit at least, grab it with confidence and you've got it. Uncooperative rabbits are easiest to grab by the scruff of the neck. I agree about not trying to hold its back legs if it's spooked, not least because their back legs are strong, their claws are sharp and you don't want it breaking free again.

If anyone in Sydney can offer a good home to an adorable, extremely tame black and white lop rabbit by the way then memail me!
posted by joannemullen at 5:01 PM on April 15, 2011

I too have caught a few rabbits using the persistence chase method. I don't think it's probably a good method, but it will get you a rabbit.
posted by sanka at 5:13 PM on April 15, 2011

Best answer: Borrow a humane trap (from the humane society) and bait it with banana. Worked for us.
posted by wandering_not_lost at 6:43 PM on April 15, 2011

I dunno if this was a particularly dumb rabbit, or if you can get close enough, but I would just toss a tea towel over a roommates bunny. He'd just sit there under the towel. It was a nice trick.
posted by tremspeed at 8:22 PM on April 15, 2011

If there is a group (4-8) of young children in your neighborhood, enlist them. There is no rabbit that elude their passionate pursuit (in my experience). The kids in our old neighborhood caught two bunnies in less than an hour!
posted by dbmcd at 9:05 PM on April 15, 2011 [1 favorite]

My Dad's trick with an escaped pet rabbit was to throw a large blanket over it then leap on the blanket.
posted by i_am_joe's_spleen at 12:14 AM on April 16, 2011

Best answer: Is your humane trap one of those that's wire all around? You can throw a blanket or towel over it so that it looks more like a tunnel (leave the ends uncovered so the rabbit can see light at the other end). Rabbits are attracted to things that look like hollow logs so this may work.

Also, I have had the most success with catching rabbits underneath the birdfeeder in my yard. They like to clean up the spilled birdseed. You must place the trap at dusk and remove it first thing in the morning, otherwise you will be catching some very angry squirrels.
posted by Ostara at 9:20 AM on April 16, 2011

Best answer: The towel works with some bunnies and not others (some go into play-dead mode more easily than others).

Try calling the local House Rabbit Society chapter (try these guys: They'll be your best local resource.

Suggestions: bananas and raisins are a bunny favorite.

By the way, as a bunny adopter, I'm really happy you're trying to do this.
posted by thebestsophist at 2:55 PM on April 16, 2011

Response by poster: Thanks all for the suggestions.

@Ostara, that does fit the description and it sounds like a good idea.

I'll also try bananas and raisins for bait as others have suggested.

Again I cannot get close enough to the bunny to throw things on it. Additionally the area to cover is not ideal for the chase method as the woodsy border is at least 100 feet long and covered with brambles. So either I trap it or live with bunny poop on my lawn for the foreseeable future.

Finally I'll add that I've contacted local bunny rescue resources along with animal control and their response has uniformly been "catch it first, then we can help." The trap came from a local bunny enthusiast.
posted by rouftop at 5:25 PM on April 16, 2011

rouftop: I hope you don't mind, I contacted the House Rabbit Society on Twitter to see if they can give you some assistance.
posted by thebestsophist at 6:45 PM on April 16, 2011

Response by poster: Covered trap w pine boughs and put in bananas & raisins. Rabbit stood next to it and munched dandelions. Grrrrrrrrrrrr.
posted by rouftop at 7:41 AM on April 18, 2011

Response by poster: CORRECTION: Bunny acquired. Repeat, bunny acquired. Adopter en route by lunchtime.

(Insert one of those reddit "Challenge Accepted" graphics here.)
posted by rouftop at 10:03 AM on April 18, 2011 [4 favorites]

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