I know for an Angora rabbit you have to keep up with their grooming, and one of the things you can do is keep their fur short. My sister has tried to trim her two rabbits, but finds that she can never do so very neatly. Is there any tried and true method of trimming their fur that makes it easier?
The truth is, having an Angora rabbit and keeping it groomed is a lot of work. Their wool grows thick and fast. The best solution for grooming an Angora Rabbit is regular combing. Angora fur is pretty resistant to staining, and most dirt and stains will comb out of their fur.
Most Angora breeders I have talked with prefer to use a wire-toothed comb with rounded ends. The rounded ends are important to keep from damaging the skin. This will both comb the hair and thin out the wool. After a few strokes you will notice that you are accumulating wool in the comb. I recommend keeping a paper bag handy to keep the wool in. The wool routinely sells for US$5-10 per ounce and is prized by crafty spinners. You can thin out the wool dramatically just by regularly combing. You can comb the rabbit daily but once you have the fur to a manageable density you will probably find you only really need to comb it every few days.
Even if you have thinned out the rabbits wool you can give it that nice fluffy look. Take a hair dryer with a no heat setting or a clean wand vacuum with an exhaust setting and blow through the rabbit's fur. If your Angora is well handled then it will probably really enjoy this. Simply put the rabbit on a pedestal or table and comb up while blowing into the hair. This separates the hair and fluffs the whole thing up. You want to try for an even fluff. Many rabbits seem to glow or strut after this treatment. I do not know if this is actual pride in its appearance or just the result of the euphoria it experienced during the groom but I have witnessed the apparent change in demeanor quite regularly.
The only time you should have to cut the rabbit's fur is if your rabbit gets badly matted. Most normal mats will comb out. The wool separates from the skin pretty easily (without harm) so the normal mats are not often a great issue. If your rabbit manages to get badly matted to where you can not comb them out, carefully trim the fur as close to the matting and as far from the skin as possible. This can be done with scissors or a wool shear. Only shear the areas you really need to. Most of the time the patches will be barely noticeable (if at all) on inspection and will fill back in quickly(a few days).
Why not just shear my Angora rabbit?
First, because the breed has developed a body that is used to having fur to keep it warm and protect it from the heat. That's right, the fur both insulates the rabbit when it is cold out and insulates the body from external temperature changes when it gets hot.
Granted, the Angora is not well suited for sustained 90+(30C) Degree temperatures, but few rabbits are. Angora rabbits are particularly susceptible to heat, but their fur can help them survive relatively short (a few hours a day for a few weeks) temperature spikes.
And when it gets cool, the Angora body is not particularly adept at generating extra body heat. It normally has a thick wool coat to help keep the elements away, so there is no need for the rabbit's body to get used to adapting to temperature changes. So an Angora rabbit is more likely to suffer from exposure to cold. Rabbits are fragile creatures, and any stress has the potential to be fatal.
Another issue is that they have 2 different types of hair, wool and guard hair. The wool grows fairly fast and thick. In contrast, their guard hairs grow at a rate comparable to regular rabbit fur and are spread out. The guard hairs give the wool protection from dirt and moisture and helps to keep it from matting as badly. You can tell a guard hair because it is slightly stiffer and may have a slightly different color from the wool. If you shear an Angora rabbit short then it will be harder to avoid matting until the guard hair catches up.
The rabbit's skin is thin, and especially so on Angoras. It is surprising how easily the skin can tear and cause a nagging sore on the rabbit. The more often you shear, the more chances you have to accidentally tear or damage the rabbit's skin.
We have now got an Angora Rabbit as a companion to our other rabbit who lost a friend due to gastrointestinal stasis. The Angora rabbit was a rescue rabbit, and unfortunately the people that neglected her left her fur in such a state that it has taken us months to get rid of the dreadlocks that were pulling at her skin.
I must admit that they love being groomed and then showing off almost like a model on a catwalk. She will happily just sit there and let us brush her. The problem is that you need special shearers to get in close to the skin to get those dreadlocks out, as it's the only way, and I always place my fingers right under the shearers to ensure her skin is not touched. There are probably a dozen or so dreadlocks left, but she gladly comes to us when she hears the shearers buzzing.
Once we have all the dreadlocks cleared, we will trim back her fur to be even all round and brush her at least twice a day and let it grow to a nice length.
Keep in mind they need more attention than your average rabbit and also the right hay to help them digest the extra fur when they groom themselves etc.
If you can't spend the time for the Angora rabbit, please don't buy one, as they need a lot of attention.
You will know if you're doing the right thing for your rabbit when it continuously licks you as you take care of them. If they tremble, you need to relax them before even combing their fur, let alone trying to remove dreadlocks.
You should be able to run your fingers through their fur and feel their skin, which is very loose and stretchy (hence the reason to be careful when shearing)
I believe that once we have finished it all we will probably never need to shear her again.
Read up, educate yourself, watch videos, read again, ask exotic pet vets, ask owners of Angora rabbits and make sure you understand it all before attempting anything on these gorgeous things because they need extra attention and more frequent care in grooming than your average rabbit.
Ideally grooming for any pet should be done daily, but life happens and things don't always go as planned. We have had several long haired rabbits in our home, and they do take a bit more attention than short haired rabbits. The care is not significantly different, and our most difficult case is a short hair (Dutch) who has difficulty keeping himself clean.
- The first step is prevention
- When you have to clean, do no harm
- Rabbits are generally self cleaning like a cat, BUT angora hair is not natural and indoor housing adds other complexities
- There are videos online of rabbits getting a full bath, but this can potentially be fatal
- If you do need to physically wash your rabbit, use a damp wash cloth to spot clean the area
- When a wash cloth is not enough, use warm water on the smallest area required. Soap is generally not required.
- If you get your rabbit wet, make sure you dry them well (if you must use a hair dryer, use low temp and caution).
- If you have to remove fur/hair
- Rabbits have very thin, easily harmed skin. Use extreme caution when cutting their fur
- If there are mats of fur do not pull up on the fur to trim, the skin will raise as well and you are very likely to injury them
- Mats can often be broken up by working at them with your fingers
- If you do need to use scissors on a mat, use a fine toothed comb to slide under the mat and protect the skin see image on answer
- Mats and electric trimmers do not do well together
- Once an area is clean and free of mats, if there is going to be an ongoing issue, you can keep the fur trimmed with electric clippers.
- If you are considering shearing your angora rabbit, and keeping it short haired, seriously consider having the first time done by a professional groomer. Keeping it short is much easier than cutting it short the first time.