Why Is My Rabbit Eating Her Fur?

Why Is My Rabbit Eating Her Fur
Why Is My Rabbit Eating Her Fur

Rabbits sometimes have strange behaviors. If your rabbit is eating her fur, I suggest you try to find out why. In fact, I get asked by people all the time why a pet rabbit does this. So, why is my rabbit eating her fur?

What Is Barbering?

Rabbits can over groom themselves. They call this tendency barbering. Barbering happens when your rabbit over grooms so much that she pulls out of her fur or the fur of another rabbit. Barbering occurs for a number or reasons:

  • Dominance issues-If there are several rabbits in one area, the dominant rabbit sometimes pull out the fur of a more submissive rabbit. If this happens, you might need to separate the rabbits. Neutering your male rabbit will eliminate this problem.
  • Pregnancy-Just before her babies are born, mother rabbits pull the fur off their stomach to line a nest to prepare for her kits.  But sometimes a female rabbit gets confused. She will have a false pregnancy causing her to pull her fur off her stomach as if to line the nest. Spaying your female rabbit eliminated this fur pulling.
  • Diet deficiencies-Rabbits chew their fur off if they aren’t getting enough fiber. Rabbits hay to chew for two reasons: for fiber which helps their digestive system and for teeth trimming. If your rabbit isn’t getting enough fiber, she can have all kinds of health issues and behavioral issues.
  • Parasites-Barbering also occurs if your pet rabbit has an infestation of parasites like fleas, mites or skin diseases. Mites are hard to spot since they hide out in your rabbit’s ears or under her fur.
  • Stress-Rabbits get stressed easily. When they’re afraid or stressed, rabbits hide, hunch up, breath heavily and even chew off their fur.

Is Fur Chewing Harmful For My Rabbit?

If your rabbit is barbering her fur,  there’s a good chance that she could up with a hairball lodged in her stomach or intestinal tract. This is dangerous if the hairball causes an obstruction in her digestive tract. Unlike cats, rabbits can’t vomit up the hairballs if they get stuck.

Prevention of hairballs

First you must figure out why your rabbit is barbering. Only after you’ve discovered the cause and proper treatment to stop your rabbit’s barbering, then you can prevent hairballs from forming your rabbit’s digestive tract.

High-fiber diet-Give your rabbit lots of hay. She should eat her weight in hay every day. Provide fresh grass hay such as timothy hay mixed with meadow hay. Don’t give an adult rabbit alfalfa hay since it’s too high in protein for adult rabbits. Young rabbits can eat alfalfa hay.

Low-carbohydrate diet- If your rabbit’s diet is too high in carbs isn’t healthy for your rabbit’s digestive system.

Fresh vegetables-Rabbits are herbivores, They eat plants. Give your rabbit fresh leafy greens like romaine lettuce, spinach and kale. They also like herbs such as cilantro, parsley and basil. These plants give your rabbit the nutrition she needs for a healthy digestive system.

Water-Be sure your rabbit is drinking water especially if she’s chewing her fur. Provide fresh water daily. Most rabbits owners say their pet rabbits drink more water from a bowl than a bottle. A hydrated rabbit will have a healthy gastrointestinal system.

Exercise-Rabbits need exercise to help their body function. Let your pet rabbit run around your house or inside her play area that you’ve set up outside. Always supervise your rabbit when she’s outside.

How Do I Stop My Rabbit From Eating Her Fur?

If your rabbit is chewing her fur, it’s important to contact your vet. Your vet can diagnose the problem and recommend an appropriate treatment. Always talk with him before you take any actions. Here are some treatments your vet may suggest depending upon what is causing your rabbit’s barbering.

  • Medication-Prescribing medicine for parasites of skin illnesses
  • More hay-Providing more grass hay to help increase the fiber in your rabbit’s diet. This also helps meet your rabbits desire to chew.
  • Balanced diet-Sometimes rabbits aren’t getting the proper mineral or vitamins. This causes fur chewing. Replenishing your rabbit’s diet with these can help them stop chewing their fur.
  • Toys-Rabbits get bored. They often need toys to stave off their boredom. Also, give them chewing toys.
  • Remove all stress-Rabbits get fearful in stressful environments. This can cause them to pull and chew their fur. Move your rabbit to a quiet area of your backyard or house. Remove all pets and loud noises away from your rabbit’s cage.
  • Clean cage-Rabbits are clean animals. Keep your rabbit’s cage or hutch clean. Give her fresh water, fresh and fresh leafy greens every day. Keep the litter box cleaned out.
  • Neuter or spay your rabbit- Altering your rabbit can help avoid hormonal surges that can cause barbering or fur chewing.
  • Grooming-Keep your rabbit well groomed. Brush her to remove excess fur when she’s molting.

Why Is My Rabbit Eating Another Rabbit’s Fur?

Rabbits eat other rabbits’ fur to establish dominance. If there are several rabbits in a cage or hutch, one of them will try to be dominant. They do this by chewing on the fur of a more submissive rabbit. Rabbits have an established hierarchy. In a group, rabbits are always trying to find out who is the top bunny. Behaviors like mounting, chasing, circling, nipping and fur chewing are all classic signs of dominance. This behavior can go on for weeks. Usually a female rabbit will end up the dominant rabbit.  Once the top rabbit is established, this rabbit gets special privileges from the other rabbit like grooming or eating first. This rabbit will chase off the other rabbits if the owner gives a treat. She’ll also make the other rabbits guard her so she can relax and sleep.

 Why Is My Female Rabbit Eating Her Fur?

Your rabbits is pulling out her fur of a good reason. It often surprises rabbit owners when they see their rabbit chewing her fur or a bunch of her fur laying on the bottom of her cage. It’s alarming to see bald patches on your rabbit. There are good reasons your rabbit is acting this way. Here are the typical reasons your rabbit eats or pulls out her fur.

Pregnancy

Pregnant female rabbits instinctively pull out their fur to line their nests.  The female rabbit’s body secretes special hormones that make her fur get loose on her belly and sides so the fur pulling isn’t painful.

A pregnant female rabbit also gathers leaves, hay or bedding to line her nest.  She does this towards the end of the 32 day gestation period, around day 30 or 31.

False pregnancies sometimes occur for female rabbits. This is most common to female rabbits who live alone or live with only female rabbits or who live only with neutered male rabbits. This is common for unspayed females. False pregnancies aren’t dangerous. During a false pregnancy, a female will build a nest as is she’s pregnant. Sometimes her mammary glands swell. The symptoms go away within a few days.

Boredom

Rabbits get bored and stressed out when left alone in their cage all day. Rabbits are social animals. They lots of interaction with people and or other rabbits. They also need exercise, outside in a grassy area of your backyard. Rabbits love to graze in the grass and wonder around. If your rabbits is alone all day in her cage, you’re apt to see some bad behaviors such as fur pulling or chewing. The stress of being cooped up like this will cause your rabbit do this. To offset this alarming behavior, be sure to give your rabbit lots of attention. Let her play outside or inside every day. Give her toys in her cage to keep her entertained and mentally stimulated. Rabbits are smart, they love toy puzzles, tubes to climb through or blocks of wood to throw around. If you allow your rabbit playtime every day, you will notice a drop in her fur chewing right away.

Why Is My Rabbit Rubbing Her Chin On Things?

Chinning is the name given when a rabbit rubs her chin on things. The submandibular cutaneous gland is in your rabbit’s chin. As your rabbit rubs this gland on objects, it releases a scent. This scent communicates to other rabbit’s that the object is “marked” so don’t other interfere. Rabbits often chin everything they come in contact with. They will even chin their owner’s arm or foot. It’s normal for a rabbit to do this.. Rabbits are more apt to chin when looking for a mate. Male rabbits chin places where female rabbits have urinated. Some rabbits get obsessive about chinning so much so they rub off the fur on their chin. These rabbits territorial needs are greater, demanding other rabbits give them a preference for things like treats, food or grooming. Spayed or neutered rabbits chin less than other rabbits.If your rabbit is this territorial, it might be good to remove him or her from other rabbits for a time. Give her lots of attention and play time with you.