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Recognizing a Long-Haired Bunny Moult

Author:

Bunniez is a rabbit lover and has expertise in husbandry and grooming techniques for long-haired lagomorphs.

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 furball in the intestinal tract.

How Can Furballs Be Prevented?

Furballs 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.

Why Is Moulting a Big Deal?

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; most owners initially assume their rabbit is sick. (It is worth noting that some rabbits never moult in 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.

When Can I Expect It to Happen?

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!

Moult or Mites?

You should know that your rabbit's fur loss may not always be caused by moulting. If your rabbit gets mites, its fur may also fall out because of that. 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 you're in any doubt as to the cause of your rabbit's fur loss, talk to your vet.

This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. It is not meant to substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, or formal and individualized advice from a veterinary medical professional. Animals exhibiting signs and symptoms of distress should be seen by a veterinarian immediately.

Comments

Meg on October 03, 2018:

I just wanted to emphasise how important grooming your bunnies is when they are moulting. I have two which had been moulting. One of them let me groom him and I have been removing lots of fur from him. The other one wouldn't let me and kept running away. He then suddenly became ill and died. The vet said he thinks it was a gut blockage. It may not have been but it could have been a hairball caused by cleaning himself whilst moulting. I'm glad your website covers this because I didn't realise how important it was before. Please groom your bunnies during this process even if they don't want you to!

Kerington Krogol on July 07, 2018:

thank you-you help me soo much my rabbit should be safe now

jordan on July 14, 2012:

nice article not that my rabbits are moulting tho!

Kim on June 21, 2012:

I just got back from the vet with my mini lop. He constantly sheds but I have him in a room where the temperature is never constant. He's runs free range in my porch. He also had flaky skin on his back. He had mites and was administered Revolution. A topical ointment you put on their neck. Made for dogs and cats with fleas but works with mites as well. Make sure you get the right dose for the rabbits weight

yom on April 28, 2012:

wat do you do wen your bunny has paresites?

judy on September 30, 2011:

i'm anxious to see the response from gail's comment...have the same concerns.;...;

Gail on July 14, 2011:

My Rabbit will eat His Alfalfa Hay and snacks but he wont eat the rabbit pellets. I am concerned. H also is digging his hair out up around his neck. And there is white flaking on the skin. Is that a sign of mites? If so what can I do to correct the problem? Also, should I be giving my rabbit fresh vegetables to eat rather then processed rabbit food/ Look forward to hearing from you in regards to my bunnies health.

Tricia on June 30, 2011:

Thanks for sharing the info. Found it to be a great relief that my bunny is going to be okay. We had no idea what was going on but thought it was some kind of extreme shedding or mange or heaven only knows what. Thank you so much!

Michelle on March 09, 2011:

I have a 3 months old white bunny and has fur loss on its back. I don't know if its a moult or parasites, her skin looks normal,can you help me please?

thank you

Jonit on January 14, 2011:

thank you very much its soooooooooooo helpful :]

jessica on September 13, 2010:

oh my gosh...thank you sooooo much for posting this advice...i seriously didn't know what was going on with her xoxoxoxo

jessica on September 13, 2010:

oh my gosh...thank you sooooo much for posting this advice...i seriously didn't know what was going on with her xoxoxoxo

Aaron on March 10, 2010:

Luckily I raise Californians so I don't have to worry about cutting hair and stuff like that.

Raggits on September 10, 2009:

This article came in very handy for neighbors who purchased rabbits from us several months ago. Freaked me out because I couldn't get out to see them in person. Rabbits birthday is just a few days a way and it 'blew out' on the friends and scared them. They've never had rabbits do that before. Thanks so much for this great hub. :)

Marianne on July 08, 2009:

Thanks so much for this, your article is a life-saver. My rabbit started showing all the symptoms you described (fur coming away in chunky tufts with no resistance, only the dark undercoat remains, it's around her birthday, but still eating and drinking and super energitic) and I was beyond myself with worry thinking she had some parasite. I rushed to the vet this morning and even he couldn't tell me what was happening. He was very surprised because "her skin is perfectly healthy, no sign of parasite, it just looks like a super moult" so it matches and I'm overflood with relief.

Thank you, thank you, thank you. And thank you also for the pictures, because they really show what you mean and I could instantly see that it was what my bunny was suffering from. I'm so relieved.

Natalie on April 02, 2009:

Thanks for posting this, I've found it very helpful... and reassuring!

My rabbit has been moulting for a few weeks now in huge chunks. I was horrified for the first couple of days! He's short haired and not showing any bald patches (amazingly) but the hair just keeps coming out... from everywhere!

I've been sitting down with him twice a day helping to pull out the loose chunks and he sits quietly for me and even shakes his ears around and does a binky when he's had enough... nice to know this type of thing is normal!

Tj on January 27, 2009:

good

haylee on January 21, 2009:

thank you so much for posting this article. i was starting to worry about my rabbit, charlie. he is a free range rabbit (no cage) so he is a very happy and healthy bunny. i noticed that he had a little bald patch one day so i was concerned. my friend told me to just watch it for the next few weeks. i noticed that he has been eating,esspecially his treats, and drinking water and no problems with his excretory system. i started to google rabbit health and was scared that he might have mites, a parasite or cancer, until i found this article.

the hair is growing back very quickly with no dandriff or signs of mites or parasites. he is approx a year and half and this is the first time he has molted in this sense. ill continue to keep an eye on it. if i notice any signs of illness i will take him to the vet. imeddiately.

ruthy on November 24, 2008:

dude what kind of bunnie is that!!!!!!!!!!1111