I highly recommend that you invest in “The Complete Angora” written by Kilfoyle & Samson. It is pricey, but worth every penny when you are caring for angora rabbits. It not only will supply you with the basics, but will also give you important medical information, including advice on handling wool block and mites. It is worth the investment and time to purchase and read “The Complete Angora” even before you purchase your angora rabbits.
The care of an angora rabbit cannot be taken lightly. Angoras are adult pets, or committed 4-H young adult pets. Angoras should be handled daily to build the kind of relationship needed to shear the rabbit routinely and to examine the rabbit for any needs it may have, i.e. checking the rabbit’s weight, clipping of a “poop shoot” as the underside wool becomes longer, toenail clipping and overall health.
Fresh water daily, 8 oz. of 16% protein rabbit pellets and a handful of hay in the evening is the mainstay of an angora rabbit’s diet. I prefer giving the pellets during the day and the hay in the evening. It is helpful to limit the amount of pellets to 8oz. in order for you to be able to see what the rabbit has eaten during the day. When you supply pellets without limit, you are not able to see what they are eating and, therefore, cannot tell if the rabbit has stopped eating or is eating less, a first sign of wool block. The only time to offer your rabbit limitless pellets is after the delivery of her kits and up until the kits are eating on their own. Treats, in the form of fruits, vegetables and cheerios (Never lettuce) should be very sparingly – perhaps at grooming time- and should be thought of in terms of a teaspoon. Anything more could upset the rabbit’s digestive system and cause diarrhea. It is best not to give rabbits under 6 months any treats other than perhaps one cheerio when calling the bunny to the cage door. Give her time for her digestive system to develop.
I like to give papaya enzymes (6-8 tablets) at shearing time to help prevent wool block.
Hold the rabbit with one hand grasping the loose flesh over the shoulders and immediately put your other hand under the rabbit to stablize her. Your goal is to keep the rabbit's back in a line. You do not want her twisting and turning as she could injure herself. Bring the rabbit immediately to your chest and tuck her head under your arm. You can then walk safely to a sitting place. If the rabbit feels out of your control, drop on one knee down to the ground so the rabbit does not have far to fall if she does.
When placing a rabbit into her cage, hold her as described above and place her bottom first into the cage. When taking her out, bring her over to the cage door by giving her a cheerio or small piece of vegetable, take hold of her as described above and ease her out of the cage. If she is digging her hind legs into the cage, let her go and try again in a few minutes or turn her around and bring her out bottom first.
Angora rabbits should have wire cages, covered with a roof shelter to protect against rain and snow. A location under trees is preferable to supply shade in the summer. Heat is an angora’s worst enemy. Therefore, shade and ventilation are vital to an angora’s health. A spot where fans can be used when the weather is over 80 degrees is preferable; however, a frozen soda bottle of water can be used in a pinch. Angoras actually prefer cold weather, but when it drops below freezing, supply your angora with warm water several times a day and a removable cover for the cage to keep in warmth. Take care that the rabbit is not able to get at the cover to nibble it.
If you are planning on housing your angora rabbits inside, keep in mind the issues of temperature and ventilation. Ventilation becomes more of an issue inside as air movement is important to keeping angora’s cool. Remember, your rabbit is wearing its’ heavy coat indoors most all the time. In addition, when you can smell the ammonia from a drop pan, so can your rabbit and it can actually affect her health. Keep the cage and drop pan clean.
There is so much equipment you can buy when caring for angora rabbits; however, there are only a few necessities:
Scissors - Hairdressing scissors, 3" blade length with pointed ends to separate wool as you are shearing
Slicker brush - to brush out ends of wool
Wide tooth dog comb - to comb out the entire length of wool
Small dog or cat nail cutters - for clipping rabbits' nails
Pin brush/soft brush combo - Pin brush for brush wool prior to shearing and soft brush for brushing wool off your clothes after shearing
Once you begin shearing for registration, electric clippers (cordless) become a necessity. My suggestion is the lithium Wahl Barvura, although there are a number of good clippers on the market.
Angora rabbits must be sheared every 90 days. Kits are sheared at 8 weeks and then follow the 90 day schedule. Check your rabbit's "poop shoot" daily and make sure that this area is clean. You may need to do a trim to this area periodically in order for the rabbit to keep herself clean. After 90 days, wool block becomes a critical concern and you are jeopardizing the health of the rabbit. As you become more familiar with your rabbit and shearing becomes more comfortable, shearing will become easier and more enjoyable to both of you.
Rabbit care after shearing
Your rabbit will need to wear a jacket for at least several days after shearing. You will find a pattern for the jacket on the International Association of German Angora Breeders website - www.iagarb.com. The link for the jacket is http://iagarb.com/articles-2/care-and-maintenance/winter-care/. The article has many good suggestions for angora care after shearing. The jacket may be all you will need after shearing in the summer, but winter care requires more thought. You are removing your rabbits' thick, well-insulated winter jacket, so they will need you to provide their warmth until they are able to grow back enough wool to supply it on their own. In addition to putting a jacket on your rabbit and keeping your rabbit out of the wind, you can:
Delay a full shearing and only shear the rabbits' belly and bottom until weather permits
Add 2 to 3 inches of straw to the floor of the cage
Place flat cardboard boxes around the cage and on top for insulation
Place a cardboard box with an entry for the rabbit to jump into for warmth
Place an incandescent bulb within a chicken lamp over the cage
In the bitter cold weather (under 15 degrees), you may want to use all these suggestions. The rabbits will also need extra pellets during cold weather. Additional pellets will help the rabbit maintain its body heat. In the bitter cold, you can double the amount of pellets you are giving and then watch to see if the rabbit is eating it all in one day. If they are not eating all the pellets in one day, adjust the amount so they are finishing all the pellets in one day's time. As the weather warms, adjust the pellets accordingly.
You will soon learn the habits of your rabbits and all this information will become second nature.
This is a brief description of angora rabbit care. It requires a strong commitment to the rabbit. You will be well rewarded should you decide that you would like an angora in your life. A single angora will provide you with enough wool for a good-sized project each year and a soft, fuzzy friend!
If you have any questions at all regarding your angora rabbit's care, please contact me at
Care of Angora Rabbits