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How to Keep a Rabbit’s Nails Short Without Cutting? | Full Guide

As a bunny lover and rabbit owner, you should know how important it is to keep your furball’s nails short. Long nails can cause various issues affecting your bunny’s quality of life. If we humans find long toenails uncomfortable, then imagine how your bunny feels.

However, do you know exactly how to keep a rabbit’s nails short? The most obvious answer might be just to cut them. But cutting your bun-bun’s nails can be extremely difficult without a professional groomer.

Giant Flemish Rabbit sitting on a animal print chaise lounge.
Keeping your pet’s nails short allows them to have a better quality of life.

There are many other (safer) ways to keep your bunny’s nails short without cutting them. So let’s dive into the nitty gritty details of this pet care routine.

Why should rabbits have short nails?

Here are a few reasons why bunny nail care is essential.

The quick also grows

The quick is a vein and nerve that supplies blood to your rabbit’s toes, and they can get too long as the nail grows. Regular clipping of the nails often means the quick doesn’t grow too far out. 

If your bun-bun has long nails for a while, then the quick can grow out, and you won’t be able to cut the nails short anymore. This not only impacts their nail length permanently but can also increase the risk of injury.

Preventing injury to themselves and you

If your bunny has overgrown nails, they can get caught in things like carpet, fabric, etc, which can cause injury. The nail can even get ripped out of the nail bed, or the toe can dislocate. 

Long nails also scratch things easily, so you might get severe scratches and cuts from handling your rabbit.

To keep health issues at bay

Long nails can change the position that your rabbit stands in, which can cause a lot of issues down the line. The joints can start to wear down, and your bun-bun may develop arthritis. This often happens in adulthood. However, keeping pet rabbits’ nails long can cause it to occur even earlier.

Some of the signs and symptoms of arthritis in bunnies include:

  • Lethargy
  • Loss of appetite
  • Weight loss
  • A wet bottom (because they can’t get into the proper position to urinate)
  • Aggression
  • Stiffness of joints.

Ways to keep bunnies’ nails short

From digging to scratching posts, there are various ways to keep your bunny’s nails short.


Digging is a very natural thing for a rabbit to do. They use it as a way to release energy. Luckily, digging also ensures that their nails stay short. This act is also important for domestic rabbits as they need that energy release.

Giant Light Grey Flemish Rabbit sitting on sand.
Digging is also important for rabbits as they need that energy release.

If you can, allow your bunny daily outside time so they can dig around in the dirt. Ensure your yard is rabbit-proofed, though, as bunnies love jumping fences. Also, watch them so they don’t burrow out of the yard.

Rough mat

Bunnies love to dig, and if you have indoor rabbits, you probably know that your couch or carpet is in danger.

A rough mat or rabbit scratching pad takes care of both problems. They can scratch and dig to their heart’s content, their nails will wear down, and you’ll have a sofa without any holes. 

This method is a great low-maintenance way of keeping your fluffball’s nails short. It’s also better for them as they get worn down naturally. Plus, it’s entertaining, so if there’s nothing on TV, just watch your bunny chew and scratch to their heart’s content.

You can also craft a digging box for them. Just use a big box and lay some sandpaper or a rough mat on the bottom. This will allow them to dig and chew in a controlled environment.

Scratching posts

Scratching posts are not just for cats — there are some excellent bunny-scratching posts, too. These might be a better option than a rough mat since walking on a rough surface for too long can eventually cause injuries like pododermatitis (bumblefoot) and sore hocks, which can be painful for your bun-bun.

Make sure the scratching post is tall enough for your bunny to stretch its back legs and is also made of sturdy material. Nobody wants to keep picking up a scratching post because their fur ball got a little too wild. 

You can also make your own — just attach a piece of (not-too-rough) sandpaper to a piece of wood. 

Hard surfaces

Walking is a great way to keep your rabbit’s nails short. Walking on hard surfaces, such as unpolished wood floors or concrete, can definitely help with their nails. The rough material can help file down your bunny’s nails naturally as they walk.

A beautiful caramel bunny looking at the camera.
The rough material can help file down your bunny’s nails.

If you only have carpets or polished wood floors, you can always get a piece of plywood or an unpolished wood board and put it on the floor. This way, they can walk on it, and you can restrict your bunny to a specific play area if they’re not allowed around the house.

Nail file

This might seem like an obvious choice, but filing your pet’s nails takes time, practice, and patience. There are dedicated pet files used to shorten the nails of dogs, cats, rabbits, etc., but you can also just use an old nail file.

Sit your pet on your lap. Support their backside and back correctly so they are stable. It won’t end well if the rabbit flinches or moves a lot during the filing session. 

Then you can start by filing the front paws and then the back feet. If you have a wild rabbit, a bunny burrito will be handy. Just wrap them up in a towel like a baby, and that should keep your rabbit calm. 

Also, keep some of their favorite treats on hand. After all, they’re getting a manicure (and you’re less likely to get injured).

Tip: Give your bunny some tasty treats as a reward for allowing you to trim their nails. Here’s a guide on things rabbits can eat.

Only file their nails when necessary. Once every two weeks will work fine. However, if you notice that your bunny’s nails grow quickly, then it’s okay to file them more frequently. Don’t file them too often, though, as it can damage the nail.

What if I need to cut them?

If none of the above methods work in keeping your bunny’s nails short or they’re already too long for them to walk correctly, nail clipping might be an option. Here are a few tips and tricks to safely cut your fluffball’s nails.

Where to cut

If you decide you need to cut your rabbit’s nails, only trim the nail growth at the tip of the nails. You can see the quick easily in rabbits with white nails, as the quick is pink due to the live tissue and blood flow. 

If you cannot see the quick, take your furball to a pet groomer who knows precisely what to do.

A note on hypnotizing rabbits

Have you heard that you can put your bun-bun in a trance to keep them calm while clipping their nails? Some people hold their furballs on their backs, which causes them to go into a trance-like state.

However, according to the Rabbit Welfare Association and Fund, this is extremely cruel and should never be done. This plays on their instincts, and your bunny will be terrified and play dead. Instead, put them on a towel or go for the burrito method.

Flemish Giant rabbit in front of white background
You can put your bun-bun in a trance to keep them calm while clipping their nails.

Do not use human nail clippers

Humans’ nails are thin and flat, and our nail clippers are designed for that shape and density. Rabbits have thicker and rounder nails, just like dogs. 

If you use human clippers, you risk cracking the nail down to the quick. If you can’t find any rabbit clippers, then dog nail trimmers will also work since their claws are very similar.

What if I cut them too short?

If you accidentally cut your bunny’s nails into the quick, ensure the bleeding is controlled. You can use styptic powder to stop the bleeding. Afterward, you can gently clean the area with some water and analyze the damage.

If it’s just a tiny bit of the quick that got nipped, it should heal on its own. Just keep an eye on it and clean it on a regular basis to prevent infection. 

A vet visit is definitely needed if it’s a large cut. Many blood vessels and nerves are in the quick, and if they’re damaged, it can cause issues for your bunny.

Final thoughts on keeping a bunny’s nails short without cutting

Filing, rough mats, and hard surfaces for your bunny to run on are definitely the best ways to keep your rabbit’s claws short without cutting them. These methods of nail trimming will keep your furball happy, healthy, and pain-free.

However, sometimes you might need to cut their nails. It’s best to research properly and have the right tools before delving into this task. A rabbit groomer will be the best option if you need to cut your pet’s nails, though. 

It’s best to research and have the right tools before delving into clipping your bunny nails.

It’s still a good idea to incorporate some sort of scratch pad or post into your adorable bunny house to maintain their new nails.

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