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How Moulting in Rabbits Make Them Lose Their Coat

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Having a bunny rabbit as a pet is a real joy and you're in for a great adventure.

Moulting in rabbits is similar to shedding in dogs and cats.

Moulting in rabbits is similar to shedding in dogs and cats.

Moulting in Rabbits

Each spring and autumn your rabbit will shed its coat. The term that is used to describe this shedding is moulting.

The reason that a rabbit moults twice a year is that they need to lose that particular coat to make room for the next seasons coat. A light coat will allow them to control their temperature during the hot summer months and a winter coat will help keep them warm during the cold months.

When a rabbit moults they will loose a large majority of their hair. If you have ever owned a dog, then you will have some idea of what is involved in a pet shedding hair.

But if you have never experienced a pet shedding hair, then you will be a little bit surprised to see exactly how much hair your rabbit will lose.

5 Facts on Moulting in Rabbits

  1. Rabbit will most likely moult twice a year.
  2. Your rabbit will moult for its entire lifespan.
  3. Rabbits hair is very light, so as they moult each day you can expect to see their hair in all corners of your home.
  4. Your rabbit's skin will be a lot more sensitive during the moulting period so when you are petting them, you need to be very gentle.
  5. Your rabbit will not end up bald during the moulting process. However they will have a very light coat on their skin during the whole process. This is so that the new coat can grow in.

What the Moulting Process Looks Like

This is the early stages of moulting in a rabbit. As you can see the fur falls of in clumps.

This is the early stages of moulting in a rabbit. As you can see the fur falls of in clumps.

The Process of How a Rabbit Moults

  • Rabbits begin to moult at the top of their nose and all along their spine to the top of their tail.
  • If your rabbit is a Lionhead rabbit then they will lose the mane around their neck. But don't worry, it will grow back.
  • While the actually moulting is happening your rabbit will also have loose fly away hairs that will fly up from their body when you groom or pet them.
  • As the moulting process progesses down along their body you will see clumps of hair randomly fall out. You will also see lots of loose hair come away in your hand when you are petting or grooming your rabbit.
  • You won't notice how much hair your rabbit is losing in the first week but by the second week you will see patches of hair loss throughout their coat.
  • As the moulting moves down their back and over their spine, your rabbit will be extra sensitive around this area so a brush might be too much when grooming them. You might need to use a soft damp flannel instead when trying to remove any loose hair.
  • The moulting process means that your rabbit will loose their coat from last season. This is so the new coat for this season can grow in underneath the topcoat that is falling out.
Angora rabbits shed every 3 to 4 months.

Angora rabbits shed every 3 to 4 months.

What Is the Moulting Process?

  • Rabbits will shed hair every day just like cats and dogs do. But they usually moult twice a year.
  • The whole moulting process from start to finish can take up 2 to 6 weeks.
  • Rabbits begin to moult after their first year but it can vary among different breeds.
  • Angora rabbits that are reared for their hair can moult every 3 to 4 months. But a domestic rabbit moults at least twice a year in the spring and autumn.
  • Moulting is a process that will occur each season but you will not be able to know exactly when.
  • You will notice that the moulting initially starts at the top of the rabbits head and then down the rest of the body.

How Does the Moulting Process Impact You

  • You will need to have a bit more patient with your rabbit.
  • You will need to clean their bedding and their food bowls more often.
  • You will have to vacuum the blankets in their bedding area every day.
  • You will have to sweep up loose hair from around your rooms every day.
  • You will find loose hair on your tops and trousers.
  • If your rabbit sits on the sofa or the armchair then you will need to put a blanket on it to stop their hair from getting all over it.
  • You will have to collect loose hair that has gather under the legs of the table and chairs in your kitchen.

Changes in a Rabbits Attitude During Moulting

When a rabbit is moulting you can expect to see them become a bit more moody. There are a few things that you need to watch out for when your rabbit is dealing with the moulting.

  • They might not want to be petted or touched by you at certain times.
  • They will want to be alone and will most often stay in their cage.
  • They will try to jump on your hand to stop you touching them or anything in their cage.
  • They will not want to be held for any period of time.
  • They will be a bit cranky and moody.
  • They might stamp their feet if your behaviour is annoying them.

Tips for Dealing With Your Rabbit During Moulting

  1. Use a soft baby brush on your rabbit's coat once or twice a day to help remove any loose hair.
  2. If your rabbit doesn't like the sensation of the brush on their skin, then try using a damp soft cloth to remove any loose hair on your rabbit's skin.
  3. You will need to clean out their bedding area more often during this process as they will be lots of loose hair gathering around the base of their cage. If they accidentally ingest this hair they could get hair balls.
  4. You will need to wash their empty food bowls more often as their hair will end up gathering in the bowls.
  5. If your rabbit has blankets in their bedding area you will either need to remove the hair on it each day with the vacuum cleaner or replace them with hay during the moulting process.

Conclusion

Moulting is a natural process that wild rabbits go through as well. Most household pets will shed each year to allow their new seasonal coat to grow in.

While your rabbit is going through the moulting process, you will have to vacuum a little bit more than normal and you will have to do a bit more cleaning around your rabbit's bedding area.

The reason that moulting is more noticeable in rabbits is that they loose the hair in clumps. If you are petting your rabbit then sometimes you will see loose hair come away on your hand.

So during the moulting period, try to be a little bit more sympathetic to your rabbits feelings and try to keep them as comfortable and as stress free as possible.

Sources

A Moult Out of the Blue: What to do when your rabbits moult and when to worry, (2016), Burgess, https://burgesspetcare.com/blog/post.php?s=2016-10-03-a-moult-out-of-the-blue-what-to-do-when-your-rabbits-moult-and-when-to-worry

Fur Loss and Skin Problems in Rabbits: Common Causes and Treatments, http://www.bio.miami.edu/hare/furloss.html

Material Guide: How Ethical is Angora (2016) https://goodonyou.eco/material-guide-angora/

The Moulting Cycle in Rabbits (2012)

https://riseandshinerabbitry.com/2012/09/30/the-molting-cycle-in-rabbits/

Bunny Rabbit Poll

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.

Questions & Answers

Question: My rabbit has been shedding fur for more than 2 months. Why is this occurring?

Answer: Each season rabbits shed their coat. Some rabbit breeds that have long hair will shed quite a lot of fur which could be as much as a fistful. You cannot stop the shedding only manage it. It does end and if you get a small soft baby brush and groom the rabbit a few times a week, you can control how much fur will spread over your place.

© 2012 Sp Greaney

Comments

Sp Greaney (author) from Ireland on June 05, 2012:

@ chrisin53, my lad loves been brushed too. He just sits there and purrrrs. :-).

He doesn't enjoy shedding season and neither do I.

Ann-Christin from UK on June 05, 2012:

I used to have Rabbits and in the spring they used to moult like crazy. They used to love being brushed but I did worry they would end up bald the amount of fur I got off them.

Sp Greaney (author) from Ireland on April 28, 2012:

@ teachermum1967,

The coat does grow back looking better.

It's currently that time of the year for my fella and he looks terrible. It looks like someone took a shaver to his back, loads of patches everywhere.

Catherine from United Kingdom on April 28, 2012:

I remember our rabbit Lucky losing fur in tufty patches last year, he had the 'designer molting' look for a while until the rest of the longer fur came away.

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