If you didn't know already, hot weather is worse for rabbits than cold weather. For Angoras, rabbits covered in thick coats of wool, hot summer days are even more troublesome.
Here are some tips for keeping your wooly bunnies happy during these dog days of summer.
We built our hutches so all four walls are lined with hardware cloth; this allows for good air flow. (During the winter months we add a back wall to the hutch.) Also, we built our hutches twice as large as what is recommended by the American Rabbit Breeders association. Angoras are a larger breed of rabbit; they need a lot of room to stretch out.
Our hutches are placed in the shadiest place of our yard, and we've had to move them a few times as the sun moves to make sure they are in constant shade. We don't want to keep them in an enclosed barn, as air flow is important for them.
As the day begins to heat up we add cold marble tiles to each hutch (we keep marble titles in our freezer), and sometimes if the day is super hot and humid we'll rotate cold tiles from the freezer a few times a day.
We made slots on the inside wall of each hutch out of hardware cloth to hold freezer packs; this allows the rabbit to lay against them to keep cool, but not chew through the wire either and chew the freezer packs. We'll also throw in frozen water bottles. Our rabbits love licking the cold condensation.
In the heat of the day we give our rabbits fresh greens or carrots from the refrigerator so the rabbit can have a nice cool snack to help them cool down.
Its important to keep the rabbits' hair trimmed short or very well groomed/thinned out during these hot months as well.
Watch for signs of over heating throughout the day and season; rabbits pant heavily when they're hot, and if you see bloody noses take action immediately to cool down your rabbit.
Our doe rabbits stay inside their nesting boxes during the day but stretch out to lay their heads on the cold marble tile. Our buck rabbits jump right on the frozen marble tiles as soon as we lay them in their hutches. They all stretch out and love when it's windy outside. They all really love their cold "freshies" (greens or carrots) too.
We hope these tips and knowing what we do to keep our rabbits healthy and happy help.
Feel free to comment below if you have questions. And let us know what you do to keep your rabbits cool during the summer.
We like to focus on what we call compassionate grooming; which just means we make sure to “listen” to our rabbits when it’s time for a grooming session. If they are particularly nervous or hyper we’ll groom them on a different day. However, if they have serious mats, than we have to take care of those regardless of how hyper the rabbit may be.
Rabbit skin is very delicate; they’re prey animals so they’re naturally built delicate. Because they’re prey animals they will almost always cower down a bit when you pick them up. Try to always be as gentle as possible when handling a rabbit.
Angoras have to be groomed or they’ll eventually get so many mats that it can become very problematic for their health and happiness.
Make sure to hold your rabbit often; get them used to being handled. Even if you’re not grooming them, hold them on your lap in the grooming position as much as possible. Eventually your rabbit will be content to sit with you. It took our rabbits a few grooming sessions for them to get used to the routine. We also spend a lot time with our rabbits even when we’re not grooming them, which helps, in my opinion.
We like to groom our rabbits once a week when they’re not shedding. When they’re shedding, we’ll groom them every other day. We raise angoras for their wool so we don’t want to lose that good wool they’re naturally shedding.
Never use a razor or clippers to groom a rabbit; their skin is too delicate to handle those kinds of aggressive grooming tools. It’s best to groom your rabbit while he/she is sitting on your lap or on a snug grooming table.
Grooming Tools We Use
First, start with putting your rabbit on your lap; let the rabbit relax a bit, pet him/her for a minute before starting the grooming process.
Next, using a slicker brush (see above), brush your rabbit all over. Feel for mats with your free hand, and note problem areas.
If a mat isn’t too close to the skin, using your simple scissors to cut the mat out. Some mats can be combed out using a slicker brush or dreadlock comb. When clipping the mat make sure to turn the blade of the scissors away from the body. Turning the scissors away from the body helps ensure you won’t cut the flesh of your rabbit.
Never pull the mat out to cut it; when you pull the mat-or even the fur in general-you’ll also pull the skin out and you run the risk of cutting the rabbit. If the mat is large and close to the skin, trim the fur around the mat to ensure more fur won’t eventually add to the mat. Using your simple scissors trim as much of the mat down without getting too close to the skin. Leave what’s left of the mat; it will grow out as the rabbit’s fur grows, at which point you can clip the mat out.
Every 3 to 4 months angoras shed their undercoat (wool), take advantage of this time to thoroughly brush out your rabbit, and cut and even pull out any mats. You’ll find during their shed season the mats will just simply pull out without hurting your rabbit.
Here are a few short clips we filmed about the grooming tools we use, and using our angora Beans, we go through a basic maintenance grooming session. (Please excuse the amateur iPhone filming.)
Feel free to contact us anytime with questions!