There are few tricks in magic as stereotypical of magicians as pulling a rabbit out of a hat. But even so, the trick is hardly ever performed, not because it is difficult, but because of the protests of animal-rights groups and the fact that the rabbit sometimes leaves a mess in the hat.
To perform this trick, the magician needs a black top hat, a white rabbit, an outfit with which a top hat would not clash, a bag of charcoal, and a hammer (in case of emergency or rabies). If the magician will be performing the trick again at a later date, rabbit food is also required.
In preparation for the performance, the magician must train the rabbit to sit still with its eyes closed. This can be done either through immediate positive reinforcement or empty promises of later rewards. In-between training sessions, the magician smashes a number of charcoal briquettes with the hammer until several cups of black dust are obtained.
Just before the performance, the magician sets the rabbit on some newspaper, commands it to close its eyes as it has been trained to do, and heavily coats it with charcoal dust. When the rabbit is completely black, it can be put in the hat and the hat worn. It is recommended that the hat not be worn for a great deal of time, particularly if the rabbit has emptied its water dish recently.
After walking on stage, the magician removes the hat and tilts it toward the audience so that they can see that it is "empty." The black rabbit will blend perfectly with the hat, but to hedge all bets, as the hat is being tilted the magician commands the rabbit to close its eyes so that they do not give it away. It is best if the "close your eyes" command be a hand signal or an innocuous phrase. More than one magician has made an audience suspicious by saying "close your eyes" while showing the inside of a hat.
When the audience is convinced the hat is empty, it is placed on a table. The magician reaches into the hat and, while the audience is distracted, discretely blows the dust off the rabbit. The newly white rabbit is then lifted by the scruff of its neck and shown to the appreciative crowd.
Note: Even the least experience magician knows never to pick a rabbit up by its ears. A rabbit that has been picked up in this way is a rabbit with broken ears just waiting for you to lower your guard so it can strike with deadly intent.