Tattoo’s are usually done with clamp style kits that hold 5-6 letters or numbers (0-9 & A-Z) though some people use electric pen tattooers (nothing more than an electric toothbrush with a needle attachment.)
I prefer to use the clamp style tattooer because it’s quick and legible. Some people think it’s more humane to use the pen style, but I’m not sure why. I’ve used both and it takes longer, you are still using a needle to penetrate the skin and on top of that there is a buzzing sound right in the rabbit’s ear.
I find that using the clamp style kit, the process is over before the rabbit can even react and he or she quickly forgets about the whole process.
First make sure your letters/numbers are in the correct order. For kits that allow the numbers or letters to be put in upside down (Weston has a cheap kit that you can easily do this with) so I recommend testing the tattoo on paper before using it on the animal. My Stone tattoo numbers come with a lip to lock them into the proper orientation.
If you’re nervous have a friend hold the rabbit still in case they jump. If they jump while applying the tattoo, it could blur and be illegible.
Next look at the ear. Locate the big central vein and make a note of it when applying the tattoo. You want to avoid piercing this vein otherwise the animal may bleed a lot. Avoid tattooing into the fur line, usually you can tattoo just above the large vein. You may still cause some bleeding, if it happens just use a paper towel and hold pressure until it stops. When it stops, use a q-tip to apply the ink and rub it into the needle holes. Some people apply a layer of Vaseline over the ink to complete the tattoo. This is a personal preference. You want to wipe out the majority of the ink after it dries completely.
Applying ink before bleeding stops will cause it to wash away. I also recommend that when tattooing juniors to put them on separate cages until the ink sets otherwise they will clean each others ears and lick away the ink.
Make sure ink is wiped completely out of the ear before a judge has to handle it. They may disqualify for an overly stained ear with an illegible tattoo.