3 Challenges With Raising Angora Rabbits And How To Overcome Them

While your angora rabbits work hard producing luxurious fur for making mittens and scarves, use these tips to keep them healthy and comfortable.

by Melanie Wales
PHOTO: iStock/Thinkstock

There are many challenges that can occur when raising angora rabbits. These are often solved by understanding your rabbits’ basic needs and the signs of distress. Below are three common issues that occur with angora rabbits and ways to solve them. When in doubt always consult with your veterinarian. Along with common sense and experience, I also learned what I’m sharing with you here by taking my rabbits to my wonderful veterinarian.

1. Constipation & Wool Block

You can often pinpoint this common and very serious issue by monitoring the quality of your rabbits’ poops. Healthy poops are large, round and glossy. Dry, small, irregular-shaped poops that may or may not be linked like a string of pearls indicate constipation and possible wool block. Wool block is also shown though the complete lack of poop.

Indicating the pain of constipation, your rabbit may seem lethargic and sit in a hunched manner as well as refuse to eat or drink. To solve this issue you must do two main things:

  1. Remove all of your rabbits excess wool through thorough grooming. Unlike cats, rabbits cannot vomit the wool they naturally ingest while grooming themselves; therefore ingesting any more wool would only exacerbate the problem.
  2. Increase your rabbit’s water intake, which will help get their digestive systems moving again. You can help increase their water intake by increasing the amount of fresh food offered from once or twice a week to daily until the issue is resolved. Fresh food does not include sugary fruits, with the exception of pineapple, which is known to help dissolve and help pass excess ingested wool. Also avoid feeding them vegetables in the brassica family, such as broccoli, cabbage and kale, as they can cause very uncomfortable gas. No fun if you’re already constipated! Leaf and romaine lettuces are best, as are other fresh foods, like celery, carrots and carrot tops, parsley, and cilantro.

In severe cases, you may be required to give your rabbit water via an oral syringe if they’re refusing to drink water on their own. In the case of wool block, I’ve had great success feeding my rabbits a smoothie of water, pineapple and lettuce via an oral syringe. This can make even the most stubborn and lethargic rabbits perk back up and pass the wool. Be aware that wool comes out a little at a time in their regular poops. You will not be looking for a big clump.

2. Diarrhea

Diarrhea shows itself in rabbits through mushy and stinky poops that stick to a rabbit’s bottom. These are not to be confused with night poos, or cecotropes, which will have evidence of normal dry stool being produced.

Too much fresh food, especially sugary fruits, and not enough hay is usually the cause of diarrhea in rabbits. First, remove the rabbits’ access to fresh food, and then increase their access to Timothy hay. To get your rabbit to eat more hay, give them fresh hay an hour before you give them their pellet feed, so they fill up on hay first.

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Secondly, wash off the mushy poops with soap and warm water, and remove the soiled wool around your rabbit’s bottom, hind legs and tail. Due to the extreme fluffy nature of angora rabbits it is important to thoroughly dry them after any kind of washing. Use a hair dryer if necessary; otherwise, moisture can become trapped against their skin, which will lead to other health issues.

3. Overheating

Angora rabbits have gorgeous and fluffy wooly coats that keep them—and us!—very warm. With this comes the severe risk of overheating. You will recognize your rabbit is overheated if they are laying sprawled while breathing in a thrumming, very rapid manner. Their ears will also be red and very warm.

It’s important to understand that angora rabbits should not be kept in the hot sun and in the outdoors if you have temperatures that go above 75 degrees F. The ideal temperature range for angora rabbits is 50 to 75 degrees F. They really need cool, shady and consistent temperatures year-round. I highly recommend keeping all angora rabbits indoors except for very specific and ideal circumstances.

Next, it’s important to keep your rabbit well-groomed. The more wool they’re holding onto, the more likely they are to overheat, especially in the summer.

One delightful way to help keep your angora rabbit comfortably cool is to take empty plastic soda or water bottles and fill them with water and then freeze them. Put a frozen bottle in your rabbit’s hutch and then they can lie against the bottle to keep cool. My rabbits also like to lick the bottles and breath in the cool air. It’s quite adorable.

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