The Long-Haired Bunny Moult—What to Do
What If It's Not a Moult?
Your rabbit's fur loss may not always be caused by moulting. If your rabbit gets mites, its fur may also fall out.
You can tell the difference between mites and moulting by the fact that mites tend to cause patches of total fur loss, which usually takes place around the ear region. You may find something that visibly resembles dandruff at the site of a mite infestation.
If in any doubt as to the cause of your rabbit's fur loss, talk to your vet.
The Moulting Phenomenon
A relatively under-discussed phenomenon in rabbit keeping is moulting. Owners of short-haired rabbits should not have too much trouble with moulting because the short hair falls out easily enough with just basic grooming. Long-haired rabbits are a different story altogether, however. When your rabbit goes into a moult and huge chunks of hair come loose, a good grooming regime becomes even more important. If you do not groom your rabbit and remove the fur there is a high likelihood that the rabbit will swallow some fur and develop a fur ball in the intestinal tract.
Fur balls can quickly kill a rabbit, so you must stay on top of the moult in order to best keep your rabbit healthy. There are also various products on the market that help prevent fur balls. Some rabbit keepers even swear by small weekly amounts of pineapple to help lubricate the digestive tract and ensure that fur balls do not form.
If your rabbit hasn't gone through a major moult, you might be puzzled as to why this is such a big deal. Trust me, once you pat your bunny and find that half his or her fur is coming away in your hand, you'll know why this is an important subject. You're at a certain advantage, however, because many rabbit owners have no idea what is going on when their rabbit goes through its first major moult. It is easy to become afraid and fearful, as most owners initially assume their rabbit is sick. (It is worth noting that some rabbits never moult this way, and others do so a couple of times a year.)
Most moults are not severe (pictured above), but in my rabbit's case, most of the fur on her back has fallen out and only the darker undercoat remains. This is what is known in the rabbit world as "blowing" a coat. The hair comes away in chunky tufts, and the rabbit is left with very little hair in some areas.
If this happens with your rabbit, do not worry. Although the rabbit certainly looks strange for a week or two, the fur starts regrowing amazingly fast. As long as they are in good health, full of energy, and are eating and drinking well, there is nothing to worry about.
The first major moult normally takes place around 6 months of age, and then again every year around the rabbit's birthday. This is only a general rule, however, and temperature shifts can have an effect on the bunny's moulting schedule.
The three rules of long-haired rabbit care when it comes to moulting are as follows:
Groom, groom, groom!