How to Groom Angora Rabbits

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Is there anything cuter than a fluffy Angora bunny???  Just look at this face!

How to Groom Angora Rabbits

All that cute fluff definitely comes at a cost though.  There is a lot of grooming involved to keep Angoras healthy & happy (and producing top quality wool!).  Don’t let that deter you from adding one of these sweet fluff balls to your family.  If you can set aside about a half hour a week for grooming (and a bit more time during shedding periods) you should be fine!

Grooming & regular handling should start as young as possible for wool breeds, so they will not fight grooming in the future.  Angoras who are not groomed regularly will develop mats, not only making their wool unusable, but it is very uncomfortable for them.  They can also develop a deadly condition known as wool block.  Wool block happens when the rabbit is grooming themselves and they ingest too much fur.  Rabbits can not vomit the fur out (unlike cats with hairballs), so it has to pass through them.  Too much fur can accumulate in the bunny gumming up their digestive system and they can very quickly die from this.  A high fiber diet (lots of hay!) is important in Angoras to keep their digestive system healthy.  We also give our rabbits a papaya tablet every time we groom them.  Papaya has natural enzymes that will help break up the wool, you can find the tablets (good for human digestive systems too!) at health food stores or online.

Most Angoras naturally shed their coat every couple of months.  How do you know if your rabbit is shedding it’s coat?  It’s pretty hard to miss!  When you pet the rabbit, the loose fur will literally fall right out.  Looking at the rabbit, you will see loose tendrils of fur falling out like this:

How to Groom Angora Rabbits How to Groom Angora Rabbits

 

That is when you know it is time to step up the grooming schedule.  In non-shedding weeks I usually groom each of my rabbits once a week, taking about 30-40 minutes per rabbit.  That will yield me a mound of wool filling two hands per rabbit (see photo below from one weekly grooming during a non shedding week).  During shedding times I will step my grooming up to twice a week (lasts about a week), taking about 45-60 minutes per rabbit.  This usually yields a huge mountain of fluff!  I use combing to remove the excess fur from my rabbits (just like it sounds, combing is just brushing the bunny to get out the loose wool).  Alternate methods include plucking (which isn’t as horrible as it sounds, it is just using your hands to remove the loose tendrils), or shearing.  Click here to read more about combing, plucking and sharing.  Shearing involves using clippers or scissors to trim the coat off.  Shearing is definitely the fastest method.  Although it is fastest, I don’t use it unless the fur is matted because an Angora rabbit’s coat is constantly growing, so when you shear  the coat you end up taking off not only the old loose fur that is 3-5 inches in length, but you also get the shorter, new fur (about 1-2 inches in length).  The longer hairs are preferable if you will be spinning the wool into yarn, the short hairs are considered “second cuts” and often will shed out of the yarn.

How to Groom Angora Rabbits

Tools for grooming

Before I begin grooming I assemble my tools (scroll to the bottom of the post for handy shopping links!):

*a small slicker brush
*grooming comb
*small, blunt end scissors (mine are dog grooming scissors with blunt ends)
*small nail clippers
*papaya tablets
*baggie or box for storing harvested wool (I use gallon size freezer bags)
*an old towel
*small bowl of greens for bunny treats!

How to Groom Angora Rabbits

 

You can place your bunny on a study tabletop,  or groom them on your lap.  It’s nice to do it outside because there is less mess afterwards, but I find it frustrating to have the wind blowing all the hair around.  I usually do it inside, and I always end up having to do a good vacuuming afterwards.

Place the towel on your table, or on your lap.  This will protect your clothes/surface (somewhat!) from the excess fur and will help cushion and cradle the bunny.

I groom with the bunny on my lap and it can be a relaxing experience for both me and the bunny.  This is Luna, our black English Angora.  She is a very chill bun who loves grooming time and cuddles.  Luna was just outside hopping around in the play yard so she has lots of “vegetable matter” in her coat – leaves, dirt, shavings – that needs to come out first.  I use my fingers and then the slicker brush to softly brush the tips of the fur to just get out the veggie matter.  You can also use a grooming blower to get out out the veggie matter & fluff up the coat.  This is just a real quick brushing – maybe just a minute or two.  Just to get out the debris & fluff the coat.

How to Groom Angora Rabbits

 

How to Groom Angora Rabbits

Don’t forget to brush their ear furnishings (the fur on their ears), behind their ears, and the fur on their face.  Be very careful around their eyes!  I use the smaller comb on the face and ears.

How to Groom Angora Rabbits

Now, we have to turn the bunny over and brush her belly, legs and backside.  As the rabbit is lying around and climbing on things this fur on the underside of the rabbit is where mats are likely to develop.  The other issue that can occur with the fur on the underside is felting.  This is when the fur is not quite matted, but is compressed and course – almost the texture of sheep’s wool.  Frequent grooming can prevent both matting and felting, but once it’s matted or felted there is not much to be done but to carefully cut the fur off.  Felted fur is not great for spinning, but can still be used for various craft projects.   To turn the bunny over, gently grasp her ears with one hand and cradle her with the other hand to tip her upside down.  Place her on your lap.  You can secure her ears between your knees, gently, being sure the ears aren’t bent.

How to Groom Angora Rabbits

Gently remove the veggie matter and comb out the fur.   Most rabbits in this position are quite calm, but be careful as you lean over her as she could use her powerful back legs to kick if she gets spooked, scratching you.  If you encounter any mats that you can not gently brush out, use the scissors to cut them out.  Rabbit skin is VERY thin and you can easily cut them.  I recommend using small grooming scissors that have a blunt end so you don’t accidentally poke the bunny.  If possible, keep your fingers between the skin and the mat while cutting, or cut the mat down in small chunks.

 About once a month, you should trim the rabbit’s nails.  You can do this while she is upside down.  Carefully push aside her feet fluff and use small nail clippers to trim just the tip of the nail.  If the nails are white you can easily see the nail’s blood supply  – be sure not to cut that far!  If the nails are dark, it can be harder to see, so proceed carefully.  A nicked “quick” (the blood supply in the nail) can bleed profusely.  If you do nick the quick, don’t panic, apply direct pressure with a clean paper towel for a minute or two then dip the nail in styptic powder, such as Kwik-Stop to help the blood clot. In a pinch, cornstarch can be used in place of styptic powder.

Also about once a month, you should check out your rabbit’s teeth – click here for more information on rabbit dental health!

Time for some treats!  Flip the bun over and pet her and offer her some greens & papaya tablet to keep her happy

How to Groom Angora Rabbits

Ok – now you bun is debris free and fluffed up and the serious wool removal can start!  The best, longest, choice wool comes from the bunny’s back and sides so this is where you concentrate during wool removal combing.  Work in sections until you get the whole body.  Use one hand to hold the skin so it doesn’t pull and hurt the bunny as you brush.  Use the comb to thoroughly brush out each section.  You will have to clear your brush often, so keep your wool collecting bag handy.  When you can brush through her fur with hardly any wool coming out you are done.

How to Groom Angora Rabbits

How to Groom Angora Rabbits

 

When you are all done its time for the best part!  CUDDLE TIME!
How to Groom Angora Rabbits

 


16 comments

  1. Shelly Westby says:

    I have a very overgrown rabbit. She looks like a victorian lady with big bustle in the back. I have trimmed off as much as I am comfortable with. My problem is the tail….how do I trim around the tail when I am not sure where the tail is?

    • Liz says:

      When you hold your rabbit, feel around at the base of her bum, you should feel a spiny finger like appendage about 2 inches long. That’s the bone in the tail. Very carefully cut away the fluff on her back near the tail until you can see it. This can be really tricky, if you don’t feel comfortable with it, it might help to have a vet or groomer take the fur down this time

    • Liz says:

      Papaya has an enzyme that helps break down wool that the rabbit may have swallowed during grooming & keeps it moving through the digestive system, so it can help prevent wool block. And the rabbits LOVE them!

  2. Denise says:

    We just bought our first english angora 2 weeks ago. She’s about 10 – 11 weeks old. She’s not yet used to grooming, which makes things real fun, but I’m having particular trouble grooming the area behind her ears and onto the back of her neck. Any tips or tricks to grooming that evil little area properly would be greatly appreciated!

    • Liz says:

      Congrats on your new addition! Short, frequent grooming sessions are best to help her get used to it. That spot behind the ears can be tricky. If you can groom her while she is laying on her side, it will make the area a little more accessible. I know when my girls were little, they got mats there all the time, as they got bigger it definitely got better though (I’m guessing because the surface area is larger now?).

  3. Pricehairybunny says:

    Great and informative thank you! My angora started doing the sneeze thing about 2 weeks ago. Some days it’s barely
    There other days i notice it. His nose is wet too. Will he get over this on his own or do i need to go the expense of the vet? Will the papaya enzyme help with this at all or are they unrelated? Thank you!

    • Liz says:

      Papaya is really more for digestive issues so I don’t think it would help with a respiratory thing. I would give it a another or week or so and see if it clears up on its own.

    • Wyn Miller says:

      Having made the mistake of waiting to long to take rabbits to the vet, and losing them to what might have been minor issues…I recommend you take him to the vet asap.

  4. Taylor Anderson says:

    I like how you mentioned that angora rabbit should start being groomed as soon as possible, as it will help condition them to future grooming. My friend wants to get an angora bunny, but wants to learn more about their grooming and hygiene needs. Are there any other tips she should keep in mind?

  5. Red Patrick Desepida says:

    Hello, thanks for this very informative article!
    I have adopted an adult EA who’s never been groome with a pet blower. From experience, how long would you recommend the first few sessions should be in order to get my bunny used to it?
    Thanks in advance.

    • Liz says:

      Congrats on your new little friend! I would see how he reacts to it and take it from there. Try it out for a minute or so and access his mood. If he seems freaked out maybe hold off until the next day, just gradually increasing the time every day for a week or so. He might surprise you though and be ok with the noise. good luck!

  6. Shari says:

    Thanks for helpful information! I brought a beautiful angora bun home from the farm supply store a few weeks ago when I went in to purchase pullets. She had been bought from a local and was VERY matted. I fell in love with her the moment I saw her and am determined to free her from all those horrible mats. I work in short sessions, giving her a break when she gets restless. It is taking a lot longer than I thought it would. I am using small scissors and being careful with her skin. I am not even attempting to save the fleece at this time, but hope to be able to use some for spinning in the future. I am worried that she will go into shedding mode before I get all of the mats removed and it will make the mats worse. About 3/4 of her body was matted, we’re down to about 1/4 now – mostly her hind quarters. Any tips for getting through this process faster? My main concern is keeping her calm and not making grooming a time that she wants to resist. She is very sweet. I have not turned her on her back yet, and I really appreciate your instructions for how to do that!

    • Liz says:

      You are definitely going about it the right way! It’s important to get angoras conditioned to grooming and I think if you sat down and groomed her for three hours straight to get all the mats and she was resisting the whole time it would be awful for her. She has likely not been groomed very often. Unfortunately you are probably going to just have to take it slow. My buns like grooming but I’d say even their tolerance is about an hour before they have had enough. If you include in each session maybe 5 minutes of brushing the unmatted fur that should help it stay clean. Did you just trim it all down to the skin? Starting fresh is probably your best bet. Just trim all her fur as short as you are comfortable getting. Then it will all be the same length and can grow back evenly. Tipping them upside down is always the most challenging part! Once they are settled in on their back they go into a calm trance like state for a bit. I cup my left hand around their ears from behind, with my forearm along their spine and just sort of scoop them quickly upside down (like cradling a baby). Once they are upside down, cradle them for a minute or so until the calm down. Now you need your hands free for grooming. I will either lay them on my lap between my legs, lightly holding their ears with my knees, or more like a baby cradle, holding with my left elbow/forearm so my hands are free. Until you are comfortable you could also have someone else hold while you clip. Be careful on her foot bottoms, if she was living in less than ideal conditions on wire floored cages she could have sores on her feet. I like to end all my grooming sessions with some cuddle time and treats so they don’t just associate sitting with me with brushing and cutting. Good luck! I’m glad she is in good hands now!

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