What does plucking mean when you keep pet or show angora rabbits.
I have recently been contacted by some very irate people accusing me of cruelty to my rabbits. I suddenly realised today that it is a matter of semantics. What do you understand by the word “plucking”? Does it raise painfilled memories of doing your eyebrows? Are you reminded of chickens? I was contacted by someone with a few pet angora, and this is the explanation I gave them. It may clear up a few misconceptions along the way.
I’m hoping you can help me please. I have been given angora rabbits that were not looked after. I had to have them shaved when i got them because their fur was so badly matted. The bunnies fur has now grown and I’m worried they are getting too hot. I’ve been told not to shave them, they must be plucked. Quite honestly this sounds terrible. Could you please advise me what to do.
Thank you so much
I quite understand, it sounds horribly like disposing of a chicken!!
I think a better term would be stripping, which is what is done to horses and dogs to remove loose moulting hair, and that is what you will do. If you look at the rabbits on my website, all of them had been stripped during the month prior to the photos being taken. The new coat is normally a minimum of 2cm long before the moult sets in and you remove the old coat.
The first thing to check for is if the wool is starting to leave a “tail” dragging behind the rabbit. At this point the rabbit has loosened its moulting wool, and has started to grow in a second coat. Take a small pinch of the tips of the hairs, and give it a gentle tug. If the wool comes out neatly and easily, and there is shorter hair left behind, then the coat is what they call “ripe” or “slipping”. The rabbit will enjoy this, as the wool seems to itch horribly as it begins to slip, and will comfortably lie on a table, your lap, or chair, while you remove the loose hair from its coat.
If however it takes a yank to remove, or if the rabbit shows any discomfort, then stop immediately and give it another week before you try again. By discomfort, I mean any form of pain, remember that it is natural for the rabbit to resist any form of restraint, even just a hand held in front of its face. As they become more used to you, it bothers them less, and once they realise they are being helped, they are fine with the stripping.
Also remember that the wool insulated both against heat and cold, I have sometimes seen a fully coated rabbit showing less heat stress than a stripped one, Rather leave the wool to mature, than force an issue.
Whoever advised you against cutting is quite right, cutting tends to cause the wool to matt and knot, and this is very uncomfortable for the rabbit. They often form abscesses and sores under the matts