Butchering a Rabbit~ Part II: Eviscerating & Skinning

Published by emilyatspecklefarm on

Go read Part I if you haven’t yet or if you need a refresher.
Now we are going to start the real work of turning a rabbit into its constituent useful parts.

Here are the materials you need from here on out:

A Sharp short knife you are comfortable working with, such as one of these that my husband makes. 
A length of rope or shoe lace
A water source
A large bowl and a small bowl
Something to tie a rabbit to or hang it from
A steel and wet stone or other similar equipment to sharpen blades * if you already sharpened your knives you might not need these.  Read this knife sharpening post if you need to learn how*

Alright, so now you have a dead rabbit, or more than one.
If you haven’t already you need to string them up someway that they will be secure and can be tugged on without coming free.
Now you are going to tube skin, eviscerate and remove the feet from your rabbits.

When I was a young my dad hunted and trapped animals for skins, that’s how I learned to tube skin. I prefer tube skinning because it keeps the meat cleaner, the pelt cleaner and seems more neat and tidy to me.
It’s also really easy on rabbits.

Tube Skinning:
Start from one of the back feet, you will probably find its easy to do the one that’s tied first, unless you have them both tied which is fine too.
Whatever works for you.
Feel the foot for the place where the joint between the foot and the leg is. Now pull the skin tight away from the bone and with the edge of your knife, not the point, slice through the skin to where you can see flesh.

If you are more comfortable using your hands instead of a knife you can do much of this with just your hands. If you want to save pelts take extra care to make sure you don’t ripe it to shreds, which is totally possible if you use too much force. 

Once you have a hole you use it to continue all the way around the leg. 

Now you are going to cut along the inside of the leg starting by the foot where you just cut around the leg all the way to the crotch. 

The best way to do this is to hold onto the rabbit give yourself resistance and use the tip of your knife,  back of the bade towards the meat, and run it along to open up the skin. 

Like so

Now you are going to do what you just did all over again on the other leg.
Practice makes perfect, right?

Once you have the fur on both legs open you need to cut around the business parts and pull the fur down off the legs. Don’t worry about cutting the tail free yet, we will get there shortly.

Like you did to cut around the leg, pull the skin away and use the edge of the blade to cut through the skin. Pull the skin away as you work so you can see what you are doing. 

Skinning a rabbit

If you’ve never skinned anything before figuring out the knife technique can be tricky and you will probably make some unnecessary cuts into the meat.
It’s not the end of the world, you have to start somewhere and things worth learning aren’t always easy.

Now you’ve cut all the way around the tail and what not. 

Pull the skin down off the legs so it’s about even with the hips. This is easiest if you work it free all the way around starting where the leg and foot meet and then pull it down with a moderate even pull.

Skinning a rabbit

 Rabbit skin at the age when most are butchered is pretty fragile, it comes free easily so too much force just makes a mess of things. An older rabbit it a bit more challenging and you may find you have to use a knife or fingers to remove connective tissue between the skin and meat. 

Once you have the skin evenly pulled down around the hips you can get a good hold on either side and pull it all the way down the rabbit to the front feet. If you pull down and not out you shouldn’t rip the skin. 

Make sure you have the fur pulled all the way down to the join that connects the feet to the legs. Move the front feet back and forth to find the joint, and cut on either side of it, fold them in towards the body and you should be able to cut through the tendons and either pop them off with just a twist or use the point of your knife in the join to separate it, then cut it apart the rest of the way. You can also use shears for this if that’s how you roll.

Lookie there, it’s skinned and two feet are off already!

Next up


Just a fancy word for gutting.
You are going to go back up to the patch of fur around the tail. 

There is muscle that connects from the thigh to the pelvis, you are going to use the edge of your blade to carefully cut it away on both sides. Then you are going to take both thighs and pull them back to open the hips and crack the pelvis. 

Keep carefully cutting the muscle and connective tissue to expose the intestines, be careful you don’t want to nick the bladder or the intestines. 

When you have the muscle and connective tissue cut you can open the pelvis up more like you did before to break it. 

Next you are going to cut the tail off. Pull the fur up the tail and bend the tail to find a joint, cut through at the joint.

Now use your fingers or just the tip of your knife with the back towards the animal, to open up the stomach.

gutting a rabbit


Gather the tail and the fur around the butt hole up, cutting any connective tissue holding the intestines in place away and pull it forward.

 If the bladder is full carefully lift it out of the animal and cut it out high up as close to the animal as you can. 

During this process if you get poop or pee on the meat stop and wash it off.
One little pellet popping out isn’t the end of the world just don’t let anything get smeared on the meat or stay there for long.

Now that you have the tail and end of the intestines pulled forward and in your hand, reach into the body cavity with your other hand as far as you can and pull everything you can out. 

Usually the heart and lungs will still be inside behind the diaphragm. You should be able to break that with your fingers and full the heart and lungs out too, the esophagus will often come with it. 

Now you just need to remove the back feet. 

You might have to cut the fur back until you get to the joint. Move the foot back and forth to find the joint and cut into it from either side, until you cut through the tendon and can pop the joint with your knife. Then you just have to take the foot the rest of the way off. You might find it’s helpful to untie it at this point and cut the foot tied up off last while the rabbit is resting in your big bowl. 

If you or another human plan on eating the liver the gallbladder should be removed. You can see it here, it’s the green sack attached to the liver. Cut it off with extra liver around it. I don’t do organs but I’ve read that breaking the gallbladder will make the liver taste bad so make sure not to do that. On the other hand if you are going to be feeding it to your dog or cat you should leave it on. 

We feed or dog and cats the heart, liver, lungs, kidneys and ovaries.
The feet, head and guts the animals aren’t feed go into the compost. If your dog is interested in them you can totally feed them the feet and head. Our dog is a strange picky creature who barely even likes rabbit and won’t have any part of eating rabbit head or feed. A chicken head though, she will gobble that down like candy. 

If you are doing multiple rabbits its a good idea to have your bowl full of water to put them straight in once you have one done and are ready to start on the next. 

All that’s left now is to clean it up, cut it up and cook it up!
Coming soon

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1 Comment

Anonymous · July 7, 2014 at 1:32 am

Wow, wonderful, easy step by step pictures and instructions. We are planning on raising meat rabbits and if I can just get past killing the sweet things I will be able to eat fresh, clean food. Thank you so much for taking the time to share your knowledge and expertise! God’s Blessingsps would love to see how to tan the skins to be used and not wasted also

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