Angora Rabbit Care
Congratulations! You are now a proud fuzzy bunny parent! The information provided is intended to help you keep your fuzzy bunny healthy & happy in the many years to come.
Angora rabbits require a high fiber high protein diet. They need the extra protein to support constant wool production & the high fiber to reduce their risk of getting wool block. Commercial rabbit pellets containing 18% protein can be purchased at most pets stores & feed stores as well as ordered online & delivered to your home. Organic feeds can often be ordered by your local feed store if you ask. You can also order organic feeds online from companies such as New Country Organics. Up until 4 - 6 months of age, you can feed your rabbit free choice with a constant supply of pellets, timothy grass & hay. Do not feed your rabbits extra alfalfa (no more than is provided already in their commercial pellets). Alfalfa is high in calcium & can increase the risk of urinary problems such as bladder sludge & stones. After 6 months your rabbit is an adult & as a result, his or her feed needs to be cut back.
There are many food bowl options for your rabbit. Metal Snap'y Fit bowls work best. They come in a large variety of sizes, are easy to clean, the rabbit cannot chew them or remove the bowls. Plastic crocks that twist lock into place are not the best as the rabbit can chew the bowl as well as untwist the bowl if they decide to dig in their bowl. The result will be a mess of wasted pellets. Metal sifter feeders that attach to the outside or inside of the cage & fill from the top can clog, preventing the rabbit from getting their feed. Ceramic crocks that sit on the bottom of the cage or in a holder can be easily knocked around & out of their holder resulting in wasted pellets, plus rabbits can poop in their bowls if kept on the bottom of the cage. Be sure to place the Snappy Fit feeder high enough so that it doesn't take away valuable floor space for your rabbit & so that it is not low enough for the rabbit to defecate in it. Your rabbits food bowl should be cleaned with soap & water at minimum once a week.
The following guidelines are for adult rabbits
Note: Bunnies under 6 months should be fed free choice with no restrictions or limitations in order to properly nourish their growing bodies.
English Angora 1/3 cup twice a day.
French Angora 1/2 cup twice a day.
German Angora 1/2 cup twice a day.
Satin Angora 1/2 cup twice a day.
Jersey Wooly 1/4 cup twice a day.
Hay is critical to add roughage to their diet which helps prevent wool block. Despite the mess, hay should be provided in unlimited amounts free choice. No angora rabbit should ever be without access to fresh clean hay. It can be fed loose in the cage (this will require you to groom the rabbit daily) or in a hay feeder rack. These are sold at most pet stores & can also be ordered online. Rabbits also enjoy having hay stuffed into untreated/unpainted toilet paper rolls. Toilet paper rolls are a great way to add the more expensive timothy hay as a special treat. Simply refill as needed & replace the toilet paper roll if it becomes soiled. Many rabbits will happily chew up the toilet paper roll & toss it around their home.
Always make sure your rabbit has a constant supply of fresh water. Water enables the rabbit to properly regulate their body temperature. A lack of fresh water can be the death of your rabbit. Water bottles can be purchased at almost any feed store, pet store, chain store & online. They are a quick & affordable way to provide fresh clean water while keeping the rabbits wool dry. Wet wool can mat & cause many skin problems. Be sure to check your rabbits water bottle daily & fill as needed. Never let your rabbit run out of water! Water bottles should be cleaned at minimum once a week. Special bottle brushes are sold for this exact purpose. They can typically be purchased at the same location you bought your bottles.
Water In Winter:
If it freezes in winter where you live you will need to be very careful with your water bottles. Bring them inside when the temperatures fall below freezing. In the heart of winter you will find you need to bring them inside repeatedly during especially frigged days to insure they do not freeze. This is not only a hardship for you, but it is also dangerous for your rabbit to be without water for extended periods of time. In these extreme situations I tentatively suggest heated bowls. When using water bowls vs. bottles you risk wet wool which in turn can create skin problems. To reduce the risk of frozen wool & skin you will need to trim the wool around your bunnies face with round tip shears. Some angora bunnies will not need to be trimmed, but for others like the English Angora it is a must. Be sure to keep the facial wool as short as possible while using this method to provide water for your bunnies. Always check their face for any mats or skin issues. For safety purposes you will want to ensure you use the proper extension cord/s as well as protect any points that are plugged in outdoors from the elements. If you have multiple heated bowls you will want a pig tail power cord. Select the length/s you will need & the quantities. You will next need to protect these connections with weatherproof boxes. Last you need a main extension cord. Whatever you do, do not cheap out on your cords & connections. Improper cords & connections are dangerous. They can cause fires, shorts & make your circuit breaker box trip. Measure everything out prior to making any purchases so you know exactly what you will need. The easiest way to re-fill these types of water bowls is to use a watering can with a long spout.
A mix of Calf Manna, dry old fashioned oats (not quick cook), black oil sunflower seeds, safflower seeds, & barely can be fed once a week as a treat. Be sure to offer this in a separate feed bowl from the regular feed to keep your rabbit from digging the pelleted food out in order to get to the seed mix. If feeding organic, you will want to omit the Calf Manna. Calf Manna can usually be found at feed stores. Seeds & oats can be found online & in some stores. If feeding organic, you can try the natural food section of your grocery store, the natural food store or order online.
One papaya tablet or one small piece of dried organic pineapple or dried organic papaya can be fed daily. The rabbit considers it a treat but it's purpose is as a wool block preventative. Do not give more! The sugars are too high & can easily cause diarrhea which can be fatal to your rabbit. If you choose to supplement with dried pineapple or papaya be sure to buy organic with one ingredient, "pineapple" or "papaya". Sulfured, candied & other oddities can do your rabbit serious harm & may even kill your bunny. Organic dried pineapple & papaya can be purchased online, in some grocery stores as well as some natural food stores. Papaya tablets can be purchase in most pet stores as well as online.
Rabbits in the wild do not eat pellets. Offering your rabbits plenty of fresh foods (and hay) more closely resembles a rabbits natural diet. Use dark leafy greens that are richer in nutrients than the pale green types. Feed a minimum of three different types of greens daily. Don't stick to just one type. The following foods are safe for rabbits as long as they are free from chemical residues & fertilizers (organic is best):
⦁ Apple: Fruit, twigs/branches & leaves (not seeds)
⦁ Ash: Twigs/branches
⦁ Banana (in very limited quantities due to high sugar)
⦁ Beet Tops
⦁ Bok Choy
⦁ Broccoli Leaves
⦁ Chard (can cause gas)
⦁ Dandelion: leaves & flowers
⦁ Endive (can cause gas)
⦁ Evening Primrose
⦁ Fennel & blooms
⦁ Garden Cress
⦁ Garden Nasturtium/Indian Cress
⦁ Grains: Wheat, oat, barley, milo, millet
⦁ Grapes: Vines, leaves
⦁ Great Plantain & blooms
⦁ Hazel: Twigs/branches
⦁ Horse Nettle
⦁ Huckleberry: Leaves, berries
⦁ Hyssop & blooms
⦁ Jasmine blooms
⦁ Jerusalem Artichoke
⦁ Juniper: Twigs/branches
⦁ Kale (can cause gas)
⦁ Kohlrabi (can cause gas)
⦁ Lemon Balm
⦁ Lettuces (not iceberg)
⦁ Mango (in very limited quantities due to high sugar content)
⦁ Maple: Twigs/branches
⦁ Melon (in very limited quantities due to high sugar content)
⦁ Mulberry: Twigs/branches
⦁ Mustard Greens & flowers
⦁ Peas: Vines & flowers
⦁ Raspberry Leaves
⦁ Romaine Lettuce
⦁ Spruce: Twigs/branches
⦁ Strawberry (limit berries due to high sugar content) & plants
⦁ Sunflowers: blooms & seeds (seeds should be limited to a once a week treat)
⦁ Thyme & blooms
⦁ Timothy Hay (generally the best price & quality in bulk amounts)
⦁ Turnip & tops (can cause gas)
⦁ Wild Carrot (limit root due to high sugar content) & tops
⦁ Wild Lettuce
⦁ Wild Rye
If kits (FYI kits is short for kittens. Baby bunnies are called kittens just like baby cats.) were raised with their dam who was fed live foods, they will be well acclimated to eating live foods & a slow introduction period will not be necessary. If you rabbit was fed a mostly pelleted diet you will need to introduce fresh foods slowly as too much too fast can cause diarrhea. A rabbit that is used to fresh foods can easily be fed a big handful daily. If the rabbit doesn't finish what you gave him & the food has become wilted or soiled with with urine, feces or wool, remove it & toss it into your compost pile. You will be able to determine which fresh foods your rabbit enjoys & what quantity of fresh food is suitable. Do not replace pelleted food with fresh food. Fresh foods are in addition to pelleted food. You may be able to reduce the amount of pellets your bunny eats if your rabbit is safely consuming large quantities of high quality hay & a wide variety of nutritious live foods.
Never feed a rabbit avocado, onion, garlic, chives, chocolate, cookies, cakes, candies, iceberg lettuce, pits, seeds from fruits (apples, peaches, etc.), cherry tree bark or twigs, mushrooms, coffee, caffeine, nuts, raisins, products containing artificial colors or dyes, or dairy products. Sadly, this includes some treats advertised for rabbits. Always read the ingredients first.
Angora grooming tools consist of a small pet grooming brush (slicker), a small-tooth comb for combing out facial mats, a double sided comb for harvest wool & getting at any mats that form close to the skin, a small pair of scissors for cutting out mats, & pet nail trimmers or dykes. A blower is an optional item that is great for blowing out dry skin, loose hairs & other debris (make sure you do it outside). If you are raising show rabbits, you will likely want to get a blower. Angora rabbits should be gently brushed daily or at minimum once or twice a week. Regular grooming's keeps their coats free from mats, cleans up debris, enables you to catch problems sooner, & helps reduce the risk of wool block thanks to the removal of loose hairs. Show angoras need to maintain the density & length of their wool coat. Special grooming techniques, including the use of a blower, are used to open up the coat & to keep as much hair as possible on the rabbit. Using a blower once a week is usually sufficient for a rabbit with a quality coat. Blowers can be found in dog grooming catalogs & shops as well as online. It is very important to regularly groom your rabbit to keep her free from mats & tangles if you intend to use her wool for spinning or felting. It is also a humane way to treat your rabbit. No rabbit should suffer with painful mats because their owner doesn't feel like taking the time to properly groom them.
Harvesting Wool Fiber:
Most angoras will naturally shed their coats 3 - 4 times a year (approx. every 90 days). The German Angora, Giant Angora & Hybrid Angora typically do not molt their wool like the other breeds, so shearing the rabbit is necessary. You can shear your rabbit using clippers &/or blunt nose scissors. Other angora breeds typically can have the wool pulled or plucked by hand when the rabbit starts to molt. The hair should pull easily & not require force to remove. If it hurts the rabbit, the rabbit is not ready for wool removal & you should stop & try again in about a week. An even removal of the bunnies coat will help it to grow in evenly which will help reduce mats. An uneven coat with different patterns of growth can easily tangle. Ideally, you want to remove the old coat before the new coat comes in.
Angora rabbits need their nails trimmed regularly. If nails are not properly trimmed on a regular basis they can grow too long getting caught in the floor of their home. Long nails can cause broken toes & ripped off bloody nails. The longer the nails are neglected, the longer the quick will grow making it even harder to keep the nails at a more manageable & safer length. Nail cutters for cats work well, you use them just as you would for a cat or dog. You can also use dykes. As long as you do not cut the quick, the rabbit will be fine. If you accidentally cut the quick, styptic powder or cornstarch can be applied to stop the bleeding.
Fur mites are commonly found in Angoras. They appear as dandruff in the wool. They are a small parasite that borrows under the rabbit's skin. This condition can cause itchiness, scratching & wool loss. Fur mites are easily treated with Ivomec, Agri-mectin, Durvet Ivomectin, or Revolution. Here is a dosage chart for mite medications. I have not found an organic method for treating fur mites.
Fleas leave little black specks in your rabbits fur along with less noticeable white specks. The black specks are flea waste (feces), the white specks are their eggs. Fleas are a jumping parasite with a hard body. Fleas feed off of a rabbits blood by biting. The bites are extremely itchy. Use the same methods for treating fleas as you do fur mites. Please see the Fur Mites section directly above this section.
Rabbits can get worms. As a worm preventative add food grade Diatomaceous Earth (DE) to the rabbits pellets. You want to add just enough to lightly coat the pellets. Adding the DE to a new bag of pellets is the easiest rather than adding it to each feeding. DE can be purchased at most feed stores or ordered online.
If you rabbit develops a crusty material inside the ear canal, it is likely ear mites. Rabbits with healthy ears free from mites are clean with no visible debris. Over the counter ear mite drops labeled for use on dogs & cats can be placed in the ears once a week until the mites are gone. If you are raising your rabbit naturally, organic olive oil mixed with a few drops of neem oil placed in the ears once a week until the mites are gone should do the trick sans chemicals. Be sure to hold the rabbit securely. It is easier if you have help. You do not want to get the treatment on the rabbit. You want the treatment to get as deep into the ear as possible. Once applied, gently squeeze the ear to help disperse the treatment as deeply & evenly as possible, then stand back! Once you let go the rabbit will shake his or her ears trying to remove the treatment. Keep a cloth handy to wipe up any excess. If making your own organic treatment, buy a empty ketchup squirt bottle, it works great for squirting oil in the rabbits ears. Note: If you are treating your bunny with any of my recommendations for fur mites (scroll up), this will also treat for ear mites.
Wool Block is also known as GI Stasis. The natural self-grooming process for an Angora rabbit is the same as for a cat. They lick their coats to keep it clean. When their coats start to shed, they will ingest more loose fibers than they do when they are not in molt. Unlike a cat, a rabbit cannot regurgitate the fiber from it's stomach. A large wool build up can clog the rabbits digestive system & intestines. When this happens the rabbit will stop eating & drinking because he or she already feels full. If left untreated, the rabbit will die. One sure sign of wool block, besides a loss of appetite, is when the rabbit's feces become very small & dry. They may have strands of wool running through them connecting them together, known as a "string of pearls" due to the appearance. The stool of a healthy rabbit is large, round & moist. In extreme cases, defecation & urination will cease all together. Therefore, you should always pay close attention to how your rabbit is eliminating. Secondly, if your usually happy & playful bunny all of a sudden becomes lethargic & loses his or her appetite, he or she probably doesn't feel well.
The first thing to do when you suspect wool block is consult a veterinarian who specializes in rabbits. If that is not possible, immediately take away the rabbit's pellets & feed him or her more hay. Adding a little frozen pineapple juice to his or her drinking water helps increase stomach enzymes. If that doesn't work give the rabbit olive or sesame seed oil by feeding it with a syringe. Turn the rabbit on his or her back with his or her head raised up a little to reduce the risk of choking. Administer one full syringe full of the oil twice a day. If the rabbit stops drinking water you will need to administer water via syringe as well. If there are no significant changes after 1 1/2 days, you should cut or shave the fiber off the rabbit & continue force feeding him or her. You can also try mixing some of the oil, a little pineapple juice, & water with rabbit nutrition powder to aid digestion & to provide vital nutrients. This bunny "smoothie" will likely need to be fed via syringe.
Wool block is a serious, often fatal condition. Prevention is much easier than treatment. Providing your rabbit with unlimited hay along with daily grooming's is the best preventative measure you can practice.
Angora rabbits are susceptible to heat, drafts & wetness. During the winter make sure they are well protected from wind, rain, & snow. Angora rabbits do remarkably well in the cold thanks to their warm coats provided they are protected from the elements. During the summer if the temperature is over 85F, put an ice bottle or frozen ceramic tile in their home. An ice bottle is a two-litter soda bottle filled with water & frozen solid (note if using a plastic bottle it can be chewed. Closely monitor your rabbit). Don't fill the bottle to the top with water! As the ice expands, it can break the bottle. Leave at least 1/4 of the bottle empty. Ceramic tiles are stored in the freezer. Frozen water bottles & frozen ceramic tiles are for the rabbit to lie on & cool off. Replace them as needed. Other options are granite stones or terracotta hideaways. When the temperature is over 92F rabbits can easily die from heat exhaustion if they are not cooled. If possible, the addition of a fan (do not blow the fan directly on the rabbit, allow it to circulate the air in the rabbits space) can be of great help to the rabbit cooling the air around them. Always keep rabbits out of the sun during the summer. They should be kept in a well ventilated shaded location during the summer. Rabbit runs designed to allow them on cool shaded pasture grasses with protection from the elements is a wonderful way to keep the rabbit happy & comfortable. They can spread out on the cool shaded ground which in turn helps them keep cool as well. Be sure to check on the rabbit often to ensure he or she remains in the shade & does not run out of water. Some rabbit owners like to keep their rabbits in air conditioning during the summer. I do not advocate this practice. There have been many a horror story when the power went out or the air conditioning failed resulting in dead rabbits. Allowing rabbits to naturally adjust to the weather by living outdoors is the best way to keep them robust & able to deal with the elements.
Rabbits like toys to play with. Natural balls, wooden blocks, mini pine cones, empty cardboard packing tape rolls (make sure no tape is on the roll), cardboard tubes, twigs, apple sticks, branches, & pumice blocks are all excellent toys for rabbits. The rabbits will chew on the toys so make sure it is safe as well as free from artificial colors & flavors. You can find many toys for rabbits at the pet store, with the exception to balls & pumice blocks, you can easily provide them with enjoyment naturally - no pet store required.
Providing rabbits with toys to chew provides the added benefit of helping keep the rabbits teeth trimmed. If you don't give your rabbit plenty to chew, his teeth can grow too long causing serious health problems requiring veterinary care. Toys like balls are great fun to rabbits. Toys can be great fun for you as well! Sit back & laugh at your rabbits antics as he or she noses around his or her balls, picks up toys & tosses them, & chews in contentment.
Rabbits need exercise. Time outside their cage in an exercise pen, run or hopping about the house will make a happier healthier rabbit. If indoors, constant vigilance is required. All it takes is a few seconds of inattention before he or she finds his or her way to electrical cords, great grandma's heirloom table, houseplants, woodwork, etc.
Your rabbits home should be cleaned at a minimum of once a week. Remove old bedding, remove feces, clean all feeders & water bottles. A broom is an easy way to knock most debris loose. Rabbit droppings, bedding, hay, soiled natural toys, twigs & branches can all be composted. You can even use the rabbits droppings (no bedding, hay or other materials) directly in your garden without having to compost them first. The pelleted droppings act as Mother Nature's time released fertilizer.
Calcium present in the urine may build up where your rabbit urinates. If this happens a solution of white vinegar & a strong bristled brush will help dissolve & remove the build up. If applicable, you will greatly reduce your labor if you can soak the area in vinegar for at least 15 minutes prior to scrubbing.
If there is a lot of hair build up on his or her cage wires, you can use a blow torch to burn it off (if the wire is not coated). This is also a great way to disinfect. Torching the non coated wire on cages typically needs to be done once a year.
With proper care & attention your rabbit can live a long & happy life providing you with luxurious fiber to spin & felt. With enough skill & gentle care of your angora rabbit, you can even spin directly off of the rabbit while he or she sits contently in your lap.
If for any reason you decide you can no longer care for your rabbit, please know that I will take the rabbit back free of charge, no questions asked.
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