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How to Clean a Rabbit for Eating

by Lauren Wise ; Updated April 24, 2017

Rabbit blood can cause illness in humans.

raw veal meat image by Maria Brzostowska from Fotolia.com

Rabbit is an acquired taste, but when prepared correctly is delicious in hearty stews, roasted or breaded and fried. Whether you are eating rabbit for survival or because it is the chosen game you hunt, properly cleaning and skinning a rabbit is the most important part of preparing it. You can clean a rabbit in the field or at home, but refrigerate the rabbit if you are not cleaning the carcass right after killing.

Don gloves before handling the rabbit carcass, particularly when you are cleaning the animal. Rabbit's blood can make you ill, so avoid any contact with it.

Hang the dead rabbit up by one of the hind legs from a small meat hook hung from a tree or wall. Use the butcher knife to cut away the head at the atlas joint (the place where the neck meets the shoulders). Let the blood drain out completely.

Cut away the forefeet and the tail at the base. Now carefully cut the skin around the hock joints (the first joint) of one of the legs, and sever the leg completely. Move to the other leg, and carefully cut the pelt around the hock joint as well. Connect these two leg cuts with a long precise cut that goes from inside the leg to the base of the tail.

Cut any fat away from this part of the pelt, and use both hands to pull the pelt firmly away from the meat. Keep in mind that younger rabbit skins will remove easier than older rabbits.

Rinse the carcass with high-pressure, clean water that is about 40 degrees Fahrenheit.

Hang the meat carcass up again after the pelt has been completely removed. Cut from the lowest part of the abdomen to the mid-point of the lowest rib. This should expose the intestinal tract, which you must remove thoroughly. Angle the tip of the knife through the center cartilage and push downwards and out to remove the anus.

Remove the entrails with as minimal handling as possible, including the lungs, heart, liver and kidneys. Some people set these aside for cleaning and eating as well.

Rinse the carcass again in high-pressure, clean water that is about 40 degrees Fahrenheit.

Store the cleaned rabbit at about 35 degrees Fahrenheit before cutting and cooking.

Photo Credits

  • raw veal meat image by Maria Brzostowska from Fotolia.com