How to Humanely Dispatch a Baby Rabbit

How to Humanely Dispatch a Baby Rabbit

No one ever wants to put down a baby bunny, but sometimes it is necessary to prevent suffering. You may have found an injured bunny or need to cull sick, hurt, or deformed kits.

Never let a rabbit live in misery because you can’t bring yourself to do anything about it. Muster up your courage and do what needs to be done. Here are a few methods that can be used to humanely dispatch a baby rabbit. Choose the one that works best for you.

Humane Dispatch:

The following methods are considered humane if done correctly.

Bowl method – My preferred method – fast & easy. Works for kits up to 6 weeks old. I learned this method from my sister who worked at a pet store. It is often used to dispatch rats and mice for feeding snakes. The animal is killed instantly through cervical dislocation.

Set the kit on a hard surface. Place an overturned bowl above its head and rest the lip of the bowl on its neck. In one smooth movement, press down on the bowl while pulling the back legs up with the other hand. Make sure to pull hard enough to dislocate the neck. Realize this may remove the head from the body. It is better to pull too hard than not hard enough. A bowl with a narrow edge works best or a thin metal rod.

You will feel rhythmic twitching immediately after dispatch. This is normal and passes quickly. The kit is not suffering. The involuntary movements signal brain death. After 10-20 seconds the eyes open wide and will not move if touched. Watch for these two signs of death to know that dispatch was successful.

Bowl placement – top view
Press down on bowl while pulling body up

Bag method – Place the kit in the bottom of a pillowcase or bag. Gather the top of the bag in your hand. Slam the bag quickly and sharply against pavement or cement. Repeat the movement to ensure the kit is dead.

Knife method – Works for young kits up to 2 weeks old. Not recommended for older kits. Use a large sharp knife or loppers to quickly sever the head from the body.

CO2 Chamber – Not the best option for quick, simple dispatch. Considered humane, but unless you already have a CO2 chamber, it requires a lot of work and education to do it properly. Animals have been known to pass out and appear dead then revive later.

Use these methods to humanely dispatch a baby rabbit. If the bunny is over 4 weeks or weighs more than 3 pounds, learn how to humanely butcher a rabbit instead.

Methods that are not humane:

Please do not use the following methods – they are cruel and cause unnecessary suffering.

Freezing – The animal slowly dies of hypothermia. They can feel ice crystals forming in their body which is very painful.

Striking with an object – In my opinion, hitting the base of the skull with a hammer, pipe, or mallet provides too much margin for error, especially if you lack hand/eye coordination.

Burn in a fire/ furnace – Ouch! Need I say more?

Drowning or Suffocation – The animal struggles and panics for 1-2 minutes desperately trying to get air with this method. Far too long to be considered humane.

Let nature take its course – While this method is acceptable for minor injuries receiving treatment, it should never be used for serious injuries or infections. Letting nature take its course is cruel when the kit is obviously in pain with little or no hope of recovery.

Knife method on older kits – Not humane because the spine is strong enough to prevent a clean cut all the way though. Dispatch kits over 2 weeks using one of the humane methods listed above.


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