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Gutting a Rabbit

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Initial Preparation

A rabbit should have the urine expelled from it before gutting to avoid puncturing the bladder during gutting and thus contaminating the meat. This procedure is carried out immediately on killing your rabbit and the procedures described here are executed in the field. For gutting, the rabbit should have cooled1, or it will bleed. This does not affect the eating quality, but if the rabbit is to be carried in a gamebag it will soak through on to your clothing.

Removing the Urine from a Rabbit

By far the best way to remove the urine is to hold the rabbit in one hand by the chest, belly up, and rear legs hanging down. Using your free hand, take hold of the rabbit about midway down its abdomen so that your thumb is on its belly, and in a gentle stroking motion downwards express the urine from it. This procedure not only prolongs the life of game bags, but saves the risk of contaminating the meat with urine when preparing the rabbit for the dinner table.

Gutting a Rabbit

Although techniques may vary, this method is a quick, tried-and-tested means of performing a task which some may find objectionable, but which can be accomplished with minimal contact with the yucky bits. It is important that it is carried out on waste ground, or an alternative method will need to be used.

You need a knife with a sticky sharp point - a craft knife is suitable, but any small sharp pointed knife will do. Take hold of the rabbit in the left hand2 around the chest (belly up), and taking care not to go stabbing wildly, insert your knife just below the ribs at a shallow angle3, and make an incision about three quarters of an inch long. You should be looking at going in no further than say a quarter of an inch or 6mm. Two fingers can now be inserted into the incision and it can be torn open to give you an opening about three inches long. This sounds brutal, but it is the best way to make sure that you don't contaminate the meat by puncturing the entrails with the knife.

Take the rabbit by the back feet with one hand, round the chest with the other, raising it shoulder high, and using a motion similar to emptying a bucket whose contents are stuck to the bottom of it, swiftly swing the rabbit downwards. This will remove most of the entrails4, they will still be attached at front and rear, however. The part attached to the rear can easily be pulled and broken without risk of contamination, as the only thing you will encounter here are rabbit droppings, which are usually very dry and hard. The front is a different matter, it is attached to the stomach, up beneath the ribs. Take the rabbit round the ribs in the left hand and grip the stomach, and remove it, it is about the size of a golf ball and providing you didn't puncture5 it with your knife, it will come away cleanly leaving you with a gutted rabbit, as it would be, if you acquired it from a game dealer.

The chest cavity is normally left intact as it carries little risk of going off, thus contaminating the food. If you have managed so far, and want to finish the job, look inside the body cavity and you will see a tight membrane. This is the diaphragm which separates the thorax from the abdomen. Puncture this and the heart and lungs are easily removed by taking hold of them and pulling them out. Quite often this is unnecessary as, unless the rabbit is being cooked whole, the rib cage is often discarded due to the fact that there is very little meat on it.

1The rabbit should be gutted promptly on cooling as the meat can become tainted, especially if the rabbit has been shot, as on occasion, the gut will be punctured allowing the contents to come into contact with the meat.2This is for right-handed people, if you're left-handed then use your right hand to hold the rabbit.3It is not the end of the world, but easier if you don't stab the stomach or puncture any of the intestines.4While it is possible to control the direction in which the entrails travel, it is advisable to carry out the task alone until you become proficient.5If you did puncture the stomach, or it bursts on removal, the fouling should be washed out immediately as it taints the meat.

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