A few words from Cliff Penrose, and even the most badly-behaved bunny is like putty in his hands.
For he is Britain’s only rabbit whisperer, a master of the little-known art of hopnosis.
His technique is guaranteed to place the patient in a trance, lying flat on its back with its paws in the air for up to ten minutes at a time.
Mr Penrose, a 60-year-old grandfather, uses his skills to prepare sick rabbits for surgery or simply to calm those showing signs of stress. This has placed him in great demand among his local vets in St Austell, Cornwall.
After making a high-pitched squeak to get the rabbit’s attention, Mr Penrose strokes it and applies a little pressure to the body, giving a gentle massage.
Having relaxed it in this way, he ‘bows’ to the animal by lowering his head so it does not feel threatened. He then closes its eyelids, leaving it perfectly still and in a trance-like state.
‘You can tell when a rabbit is under because his back legs completely relax,’ he said.
‘The creature is unable to move. They emerge from a trance a happier, more relaxed pet.’
Mr Penrose, who has 50 bunnies of his own and does not charge for his services, continued: ‘You have to be confident when holding the animals
‘If you are scared or nervous or stressed then the rabbit will sense that – they are extremely intelligent animals. Once I’m holding the animal, it is only a matter of seconds before they are totally relaxed.’
Mr Penrose began developing his hypnotising skills when he retired from his processing job at a China clay firm and spent more time with his pets.
‘I discovered that if I was in a bad mood the rabbits would react to that and become fidgety and unruly, but if I was having a good day they would be calm and no trouble.’
Since mastering his technique, Mr Penrose has put hundreds of rabbits under his spell and even has a dedicated telephone hotline for troubled owners.
Apart from preparing animals for surgery, he also deals with ‘problem’ rabbits which display behavioural issues and insists a little ‘hopnotism’ can have a strong calming effect on hyperactive or aggressive pets, even extending their life expectancy.