Categories: Rabbit Care

How To Keep A Rabbit’s Nails Short Without Cutting?

If you have an anxious or nervous bunny at home who does not like to get their nails clipped then you must have thought How To Keep A Rabbit’s Nails Short Without Cutting? I was really having a hard time handling my rabbits every time their nails grew out enough to be cut.

Most house rabbits need to get their nails cut every few months and it is cut using a specialized pair of nail scissors. Just like human nails, rabbit nails have a part made of Keratin (the hard nail) and the nail bed called a ‘Quick’. In order to cut their nails safely, one must cut off the top nail part without cutting the quick tissue inside otherwise it can cause bleeding.

I looked at how wild rabbits keep their nails short and found out that they use their nails to dig a lot. They dig to make burrows, dig up tubers and other vegetables or grass, even from under a thick layer of snow. This wears down their nails enough that they never grow too long.

Here is how you can adapt a wild rabbit’s nail wearing routine to your pet rabbits and keep your rabbit’s nails short without cutting.

  • Using a nail file.
  • Giving them a rough mat to dig and scratch on
  • Providing lots of space for them to run around
  • Letting them dig in the yard
  • Making sure they walk on hard surfaces

Read on to learn about these steps and how they work in more detail.

Using A Nail File

This one is an obvious choice, any old nail file that you use on your own nails will work wonders on your bunny’s nails as well. Rabbit’s nails are made of the same stuff as us.

Just sit your bunny down on your lap and file away, if you find that they are trying to get away then wrap them around in a towel and make a bunny burrito.

File down all of their nails one by one from front paws to the back.

Although this method does take a bit of time compared to the traditional nail clippers, it is much safer and causes no pain or anxiety to your rabbit.

P.S. Always keep some treats at hand when you are filing your rabbit’s nails, this will hold your rabbit’s attention and prevent them from trying to get away.
What Is The Best Nail File For Rabbits?
Any simple nail file will do the job as long as it files fast and smoothly, remember we are still dealing with a rabbit all to eager to run away. Here is the on that I use and it worked wonders on my rabbits

Giving Them A Rough Mat To Dig And Scratch On

Filing their nails down is one thing but in order to keep your rabbit’s nails short without cutting, you need to make sure that their nails wear down naturally.

One of the best ways to achieve this would be by giving them a rough mat to dig and scratch on.

As you might know, rabbits love to dig, this digging often caused problems for their owners if the rabbit is living indoors. They often dig up the carpet or the sofa but this behavior is natural.

They just want to release so energy and wear down their nails.

An easy way to turn this behavior is to give them a rough mat which they can dig or chew on. That way their destructive behavior is turned into a game which can be really entertaining to watch.

For your bunny, this will definitely be the most fun way if you have been wondering How To Keep A Rabbit’s Nails Short Without Cutting?

What Is Best Rabbit Mat For Digging & Chewing?
When it comes to rabbit mats that are safe and healthy for rabbits to dig on, the Oxbow Timothy Mat is definitely the best. It has multiple sizes according to your bunny and is made out of 100% Timothy hay.

Providing Lots Of Space For Them To Run Around

Rabbits have forward facing nails similar to dogs, that mean unlike cats they cannot retract their nails while running. Rabbit nails help them get enough grip in any kind of surface.

That’s why rabbits which like to run around a lot wear down their nails quite easily.

An easy way to promote running around in your rabbit is by providing with lots of space to move around. Rabbits living in a cage or a hutch hardly has any space to move around.

Let them free roam in the house during the day if your house is bunny proofed. You can also keep more than one rabbit, which also increases the activity level in rabbits. They are always happier living with a friend.

And finally, take some time out to interact with your rabbit everyday and bring enrichment into their lives.

Placing tasty treats around the house can stimulate your rabbit to move around and its a great way to add more exercise. Learn more about the best rabbit treat on What Can Rabbits Eat? Rabbit Food Guide

Letting Them Dig In The Yard

Now this one might be a bit controversial, the best way to keep rabbit’s nails short without cutting them would be allow them to dig in your back yard.

Rabbits are natural diggers, in the wild they live in complex multi leveled burrows. This means that they are digging through soil, gravel, roots and snow. All this digging wears down their nails and keeps them short.

An easy way to replicate this with domestic rabbits is to let them dig in your yard in a controlled manner.

Just make sure that you supervise them while they are out. Rabbits have been known to jump over fences.

Making Sure They Walk On Hard Surfaces

Rabbit nails are forward facing, that means they keep scraping the floor when they walk or run. Thats why you may see your bunny struggling to maintain a grip on on a polished floor.

Although we want to give our rabbits the best comfort, having a hard and rough surface is quite beneficial when it comes to keeping their nails worn down.

The best surfaces for rabbits to be walking around would be concrete floors or wood floors that are unpolished. If your house has polished floors or carpet then you can try to place large piece of untreated ply wood in the bunny’s play area.

This may look harsh at first, it is quite comfortable for rabbits as they can move around better on harder surfaces. Plus they won’t have to go through the trauma of getting their nails clipped as often. That’s an easy trick on How To Keep A Rabbit’s Nails Short Without Cutting?


The key take away here is this, although we not able able to completely get rid of the rabbit nail clippers just yet. Using the methods above you can significantly reduce how often you have to get your bunny’s nails trimmed.

This means less problems for you or your bunny in the long run. Cutting rabbit nails can be a hard skill to acquire so if you ever need it then its best to have your vet do it for you in the meanwhile.

If you decide to try clipping your rabbit’s nails instead you can try learning a bit more on How To Cut A Rabbit’s Claws


I love pet rabbits and have been living with them since I was a kid. I started this website with the aim to share what I have learned about pet rabbits over the years.

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