Rabbits shed their fur. Sometimes, they shed more than normal. My recommendation is to understand why rabbits sometimes shed so much. Actually, many people ask me this regularly. So, why do rabbits shed so much?
Rabbits shed every three months. They typically have a light shedding and a heavier shedding, which often catches their owners by surprise. You can help your rabbit through the shedding process by brushing him. It’s also important that your rabbit gets lots of water and fibrous hay to prevent hairballs from building up in his gut causing blockages or even death. Rabbits are prone to skin mites or walking dandruff as it’s called. There is a long list of common skin problems common to rabbits. Sometimes rabbits stop grooming themselves because they’re overweight, in pain, stressed out or ill. You must help your rabbit stay groomed so he’ll stay clean.
How Often Do Rabbits Shed?
Rabbits shed every three months. They usually have a light shed and then a heavier shed that follows. Sometimes, owners don’t notice their rabbit’s light shedding, but they notice the heavier one. Also, rabbits shed inconsistently. One rabbit might take two weeks to shed their coat, while another a rabbit sheds their coat in one day.
When your rabbit is shedding, you can help the shedding process by simply pulling fur out as you pet your rabbit. It’s also a good idea to brush your rabbit when he’s shedding to help the process along. Bald spots might appear in your rabbit’s coat when he loses a bunch of fur. It’s normal, his fur will grow back in two weeks.
Why Is My Rabbit Getting Hairballs?
Rabbits like to stay clean. Like cats, they lick themselves to clean their fur. Because of this, they can get hairballs, especially when they’re shedding. Rabbits can’t vomit up hairballs. Sometimes these hairballs get stuck in the rabbit’s digestive system causing all kinds of digestive issues such as blocking the stomach, diminishing their appetites and even death. Here are some suggestions on how to prevent your rabbit from getting a hairball.
Fresh water-Be sure your rabbit has lots of water. Many rabbit owners feel that rabbits drink more water from a bowl rather than a water bottle. The water bowl should be heavy, so the rabbit can’t throw it around and break it. Keep the water bowl filled so your rabbit can drink freely which will help pass the fur through his digestive system.
Lots of hay- Rabbits should eat their weight in hay every day. His diet should be 80% fresh grass hay such as timothy hay and meadow hay. Hay is essential for your rabbit’s healthy digestion which includes passing hairballs. As rabbits chew the fibrous hay, it trims their teeth since their teeth grow continuously during their lifetime.
Brushing-Regular brushing reduces hairballs. Long hair rabbits need to be brushed even more often. Your rabbit will love the brushing and the bonding time will be helpful for your rabbit to feel like he’s getting attention.
Pulling-If your rabbit is having a heavier shedding, you can pull clumps of fur out with your hands. This helps the process move faster and won’t hurt your rabbit.
Cutting- Sometimes, it’s best to cut your rabbit’s fur shorter, if he’s a long haired rabbit. Take your rabbit to your vet to learn how to clip his hair. His skin is very sensitive, so you must be careful that you don’t clip his hair too short or nip his skin accidentally.
Some rabbit’s owners suggest that you keep an eye on your pet rabbit’s poop for anything that looks like strings of hair with pellets attached-this shows he has swallowed some fur. You need to increase his water or hay. Also, rabbit owner’s suggestion papaya tablets as a treat to keep your rabbit’s digestive system moving.
Is Shedding and Moulting The Same Thing?
Shedding or molting is when a rabbit loses one coat of fur so another one can grow. Baby rabbits shed their baby fur at 5 months of age. As the rabbit gets older, his fur will thicken and develop into an adult coat. Some researchers say rabbits shed every three months, while others say rabbits only shed twice a year-Spring and Autumn. Others suggest that rabbits shed irregularly, in various patterns. Some owners say their pet rabbits seem to shed all year round. Your rabbit shedding process will begin at his head, then his neck then down their back to the sides of their body. Last, of all, they shed fur on their rump. Some rabbits shed all over their body all at once. Sometimes you’ll see skin where your rabbit has lost his fur. This is normal.
What Is Walking Dandruff?
Walking dandruff is another name for mites. Mites are white crawling tiny insect that invades a rabbit’s skin. They cause flaky skin on your rabbit, with little to no symptoms. Mites are very contagious to other rabbits who live around your rabbit. Sometimes mites show up in older rabbits who can’t groom themselves properly because of teeth problems or mobility issues. Long haired rabbits get mites more often than short haired rabbits do. Here are the symptoms that your rabbit has mites:
- White, flaky patches of skin on you rabbit’s fur
- Red skin
- Bumpy skin
- Sneezing and scratching around his face
- Hair loss, behind the neck and on the shoulders.
If you suspect that your rabbit has “walking dandruff” take him to the veterinarian for treatment.
What Happens If My Rabbit Doesn’t Groom Himself?
Sometimes your rabbit will stop grooming himself. You must figure out why because it can lead to hairballs or matted fur around his bottom is the rabbit can’t groom himself. Here are some reasons rabbits stop grooming themselves properly.
Overweight-If your pet rabbit is overweight he’ll stop grooming because it’s too difficult. Giving him a good healthy diet of hay, vegetables and water. Also make sure he gets exercise to help keep his weight down.
Arthritis- If your rabbit stiff or in pain from arthritis, he won’t be able to move bend and groom himself. You must brush and perhaps wipe his bottom fur around his anus to keep him clean. You can also use fragrance-free alcohol-free and hypoallergenic baby wipes to keep him clean.
Dental problems-If your rabbit’s teeth are too long, he’ll stop grooming. Your vet can trim his teeth if this happens. Add more hay to your rabbit’s diet so his teeth will stay trimmed.
Stress-Sometimes if a rabbit is under stress because of moving, losing his partner rabbit, or owner, he’ll stop grooming himself. This might be temporary, but you still must help him stay clean by brushing him and wiping him.
Illness- If your rabbit is ill, he might stop grooming himself for a while until he feels better.
What Skin Disease Do Rabbits Get?
Rabbits skin diseases can be serious if left untreated. Here are some of the skin ailments rabbits are prone to:
- Alopecia-Alopecia is fur loss. There are a variety of reasons your rabbit might lose his fur such as hormonal problems, inflammation or fur plucking. Females pluck their fur to line their nests. Sometimes rabbits pluck fur because of nutritional deficiency such as not enough fiber in their diet.
- Fleas-If your rabbit has fleas, he’ll lose fur, have redness of his skin, small crusty patches on his skin and itching. Get flea treatment for him right away because he can pass the fleas to other pets in your household like dogs or cats.
- Chewing of fur-Rabbits sometimes chew their fur or the fur of another rabbit. Stress makes this chewing worse. Usually, you’ll see broken hair and patchy hair loss on your rabbit.
- Ringworm-Rabbits can get ringworm. It’s a fungus with red raised circular lesion on your rabbit’s skin. There may also a crustiness, scaling or bald spots, which is most common in rabbits. Rabbits are prone to ringworm on their head, ears or face. Your vet can treat ringworm with a topical treatment.
- Rabbit syphilis-Rabbit syphilis is caused by bacteria called spirochete. It causes a crusty dermatitis around the rabbit’s genitals or nose. In especially bad cases, it will spread to a rabbit’s face or around his eyes. Your vet can treat rabbit syphilis with penicillin.
- Abscesses– Rabbits are prone to skin swelling such as abscesses. These cause cheesy-like pus inside a tick lump on the rabbit’s skin. Usually, a vet needs to lance the abscess and drain it. He might give your rabbit an antibiotic, too.
- Warts, lumps and bumps, growths-Rabbits are also prone to warts, lumps and bumps caused by papillomavirus. They’re also prone to benign fatty tumors called lipomas.
- Cancer-Cancer isn’t that common in rabbits, but it can occur especially uterine cancer. If you spot a growth of some kind, it’s best to take your rabbit to a vet for tests.
Are Rabbits Prone to Bacterial Infections?
Rabbits also are prone to bacterial infections called Pyoderma. They occur when a rabbit has a skin cut or tear or if your rabbit is exposed to damp conditions.
Symptoms of pyoderma depend on the type of bacteria causing the infection, but common symptoms include:
- Muscle pain
- Urinary tract infection
- Poor personal hygiene
- Matted fur around rabbit’s anus
- Redness or crusty around infected area
- Swollen gums, bleeding slobbering or loose teeth.
Bacteria that can cause these infections include:
Your vet can treat these infections with antibiotics or minor surgery if needed.
Give your rabbit a well balanced diet to help keep him healthy and able to fight off diseases. Keep him from becoming overweight. Skin folds allow dampness which can turn into bacterial infections. Keep his teeth trimmed so he can groom himself.
Rabbits shed or moult, as it’s commonly called. Like cats, they lick themselves, and sometimes accidentally ingest fur. It they ingest too much fur, they can develop hairballs which block their digestive tract. A good healthy diet of lots of water, and hay can go a long way to prevent hairballs. Like other furry animals, rabbits can get mites, fleas and some skin irritations that cause hair loss.