Basic Angora Rabbit Care

Angora Rabbit Colour - ghost chinchilla or frosted pearl
Always house rabbits individually in all wire square mesh cages, at least 50cm cube. Never put in bedding as it will cause matting of the wool. Housing on a dirt floor is not suitable, as rabbits will burrow into the ground and will become filthy and matted, and will be difficult to catch for routine care.

Feeding
  • Pelleted rabbit food and water must be available at all times, as well as good quality hay.
  • Put the hay in a “rack” attached outside the cage, so that the rabbits cannot soil the food with their droppings before eating, nor matt their coat with it when they pull it through to eat it.
  • Do not try and cut corners by feeding the rabbit substitutes used for other animals. The food will not be balanced for rabbits and will cause nutritional problems.
  • Treats such as carrots, fresh cut green grass and bananas should not be offered more than once daily, and only in small amounts.
  • Fresh cut kikuyu is an exception as it is very good for supplying the necessary fibre to keep the gut moving.


A newly harvested Angora Rabbit  rabbit - note that only the body is harvested, not the face and belly
Clip or Pluck?
Whether you clip or pluck will depend on the type. All English should be plucked, and German Angora should be clipped. If you find that after clipping you have lots of fly away bits and pieces on your finished yarn or garment, then the clipped rabbit was in fact English, and should have been plucked, if you try and pluck and bald patches appear, then clip or you will hurt the rabbit.
  • Wool can be plucked as soon as it comes loose in a moult or it can be clipped as soon as it is 6cm to 10cm long, using a pair of scissors. The rabbit is plucked or clipped along the back and sides, down to the base of the tail.
  • Do not clip the face, legs or belly unless matted, however do check the area around the anus for matting in the coat. This area should be clipped at every wool harvest. Leave about cm of wool on the rabbit.


Woolblock - why it happens and how to prevent it
The main problem faced by Angora’s is woolblock, cause by a buildup of wool in the stomach of the rabbit. This is caused by leaving the wool too long between harvests, and by too much handling of the rabbit. Rabbits are very clean animals, and will groom off any scent left on them from handling by their owner. This causes them to ingest hair, which they cannot regurgitate, and this builds up into a solid mass in the stomach, causing death by starvation or gangrene. For this reason, although they have a lovely temperament, I do not recommend them as pets for young children or for petting zoos/farms. Ownership has to be responsible – and they quickly learn to enjoy face strokes and cheek scratches!

Remember to check the rabbit
When you harvest the wool, check for problems such as ear canker and long claws, and treat as needed, including clipping the claws. The rabbit must also be combed periodically to remove knots in the coat. Do not discard these knotted pieces but also use for interesting yarns that can be used for knitting or weaving.

Breeding
When you wish to breed the rabbits, clip both the buck and the doe clean around the vent area, as well as clipping the doe short over the entire body and belly, then immediately mating. The doe is pregnant for about 28 to 32 days, and will need an enclosed box, containing grass for bedding put into her cage from the 28th day after mating for a nesting box. The nesting box must be about 35cm cube in size.