Having a bunny rabbit as a pet is a real joy and you're in for a great adventure.
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 rabbits moults twice a year is that they need to lose that particular coat to make room for the next season's coat. A light coat will allow them to control their temperature during the hot summer months while the winter coat will help keep them warm during the cold months.
When a rabbit moults it will shed quite a large volume of hair. Anyone who has ever owned a dog will have some idea what it is like to deal with this issue. While a rabbit doesn't shed as much as a dog, it does moult and unfortunately, during this period of time, a rabbit owner will simply have to get used to all the extra hair flying around.
But if you have previously never owned a pet, then the whole shedding experience will be new to you. It will actually be a bit of a shock to first-time rabbit owners to see exactly how much hair their rabbit will shed.
5 Facts on Moulting in Rabbits
- Most breeds of rabbits will moult at least twice a year.
- A rabbit will moult every year over its entire lifespan.
- The density of a rabbit's hair is very light, so when the rabbit moults every day, you can expect to see a lot of loose hair on your floor and in the corners of the room they play in.
- During the moulting process, the rabbit's skin will be extremely sensitive. So when you are petting them or grooming them you need to be extremely gentle with them.
- Despite the amount of hair that you see your rabbit shed during the moulting process, there is no chance that they will go bald. There will still be hair on their body, but it will be an extremely light coat. So be gentle with them until their new coat grows in.
What the Moulting Process Looks Like
The Process of How a Rabbit Moults
- The moulting process in rabbits begins at the top of their nose and then gradually progresses along their head, spine and ends at the top of their tail.
- If you have a rabbit like a Lionhead, that has a long coat, then they will lose the mane around their neck and on the top of their head. But there is no need to worry too much because it will grow back.
- During the moulting process, your rabbit will also have lots of loose fly-away hairs that will fly from their body around the room.
- When the moulting process starts to progress down along their body you will start to see clumps of hair randomly fall out. You will also see lots of loose hair come away in your hand while you are petting or grooming the rabbit.
- You won't notice how much hair your rabbit is losing in the first week. But by the second week, you will definitely see patches of hair loss throughout their coat.
- As the moulting process moves down along their back and over their spine, your rabbit will be extra sensitive around this area. So when you are grooming them don't use a hard brush. Instead, maybe use a damp paper towel or a soft damp flannel to help remove any loose or flyaway hairs from their coat.
- When the moulting process begins to occur then this means that your rabbit is going to start growing in a new coat. The moulting process allows room for the new coat to grow.
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 between 2 and 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 rabbit's 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 its hair from getting all over it.
- You will have to collect loose hair that has gathered under the legs of the table and chairs in your kitchen.
Changes in a Rabbit's 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 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 from 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.
Read More From Pethelpful
Tips for Dealing With Your Rabbit During Moulting
- Use a soft baby brush on your rabbit's coat once or twice a day to help remove any loose hair.
- If your rabbit doesn't like the sensation of the brush on its skin, then try using a damp soft cloth to remove any loose hair on your rabbit's skin.
- 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 hairballs.
- You will need to wash their empty food bowls more often as their hair will end up gathering in the bowls.
- If your rabbit has blankets in its 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.
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 lose their 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 rabbit's feelings and try to keep them as comfortable and as stress-free as possible.
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)
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
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:
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.