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Hypnotizing or Trancing Rabbits


Not a Calm Experience


There has been some controversy over “trancing” or “hypnotizing” rabbits. Hopperhome no longer practices nor supports the use of this technique. I trust the science and the scientists who have studied Tonic Immobility (TI) in animals and particularly rabbits. The studies show this phenomenon is “a short-term reversible paralysis which can be readily induced in susceptible ‘prey species’ such as rabbits.”

I was uneasy about inducing the "trance"  in my own rabbits from the beginning many years ago, I recommended it, but only to be used for very short periods of time.  I have never considered a rabbit relaxed in this state.  My first clue was how they can immediately come out of the so-called “trance” in an instant. Also, my rabbits would thump loudly at me when I put them back down on the floor after they were "hypnotized" and those loud thumps meant only one thing – danger.  As far as I am concerned (and the science backs me up), the "hypnotic state" (Tonic Immobility) is fear driven and is an instinctual response to an extremely high stress situation.  After all, rabbits perform this “trance” on their own as a survival strategy under intense fear when all else fails and they are cornered by a predator.  The bunny plays “dead” in hopes the predator will loosen its grip and escape is possible.  It is a last ditch response to terror. When I first saw it demonstrated it was described to me as “bunny bliss." 


Below I have listed a link to an article about a "rabbit whisper." However, the science does not support any suggestion a rabbit is lulled into a state of calm by turning them on their backs and then speaking softly to them. Considering the information now available on Tonic Immobility in rabbits, whispering to a rabbit in this state would hardly relieve their fright. Certainly, I am guilty of my own ignorance using this technique on many occasions.  Not any longer. It now takes a bit longer to trim my rabbits’ nails since "trancing" is no longer an option.

Read the articles here:

Times Online Article April 15, 2010 Rabbit Whisperer

Trancing Rabbits Tonic Immobility

Pogo bunny may look relaxed above, but he is in a state known as "Tonic Immobility" using his survival instinct just so I can easily trim his nails. I don't use this method anymore unless absolutely necessary.



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