ALL ABOUT RABBITS
A Little History
The House Rabbit
A Quick Glance -
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Recommended Vets in Singapore -
Common Illnesses -
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Care for the Sick -
Air Travel with Rabbits
Pregnancy & Rabbits
General Misconceptions
Why Breeding is Bad
Confronting Animal Abuse
 

 



 
 

The House Rabbit
Grooming

How to Groom Your Rabbit
Taken from the books 'The Essential Rabbit' & 'The Rabbit Handbook'

Rabbit breeds have four different types of hair : -

  1. Normal fur is a dense undercoat with coarse guard hairs extending past the undercoat.
  2. Satin fur is fine and has a hairshaft that reflects light, giving it a spectacular sheen.
  3. Rex fur is denser than normal fur and the guard hairs are about the same length as the undercoat. Rex fur also stands up perpendicular to the skin, giving it a unique feel.
  4. The last type of fur is wool and is found on Angora rabbits. There are actually four different types of wool found on different types of Angoras.


Caring for Angoras
The care of an Angora coat is very much different from that of other breeds because their wool - not fur is quite long. For pet Angora rabbits, it is quite acceptable to keep their hair cut short so that it does not get as dirty and is easier to manage. If you do cut the fur, do not trim it right to the skin level. Fur offers natural protection against heat, cold, and anything that may injure the skin. Angoras will require frequent brushing, whereas other breeds of rabbits require less coat maintenance. It is especially important to not trim the fur from your rabbit's hocks and back feet as this will definitely predispose him to hock sores.

Most rabbits, like cats, are fastidious groomers and will groom their coats to a nice, clean finish. Consequently, rabbits can end up swallowing a lot of hair and developing hairballs. To help reduce the amount of hair your rabbit will ingest, brush them at least once a week.

SHEDDING
If your rabbit is going through a heavy shed, you should brush them everyday. Brushing should be done in the natural direction of the hair coat; if you reverse the stroke and go from tail to head too frequently, you will damage the hair.

Rabbits shed every three months. One shed will be light and may not even be noticeable; the next shed will be heavy. Rabbits can lose a lot of hair during a heavy shed and may even develop bald areas. It may be easier during these periods to gently pull out loose hair with your fingers and follow up with a brushing. Dampening your hands with water and stroking your rabbit from head to tail will also help remove dead hair.

Note : Each rabbit sheds for a different period of time. For some rabbits, the shed will only last a day or two; for others, it will last two weeks.

BRUSHES
Be careful when selecting a brush for your rabbit. Although rabbit coats are fairly thick, the skin underneath is very delicate and you obviously do not want to injure the skin with a painful brush. Also, you do not want your rabbit to feel discomfort or pain during your brushings - you want your bunny to learn to enjoy brushings. For that reason, slicker brushes and some hard metal brushes are inappropriate. A bristle brush or pin brush is more appropriate for rabbit grooming.

COMBING
To remove loose hair, you may want to follow a brushing with a combing. Use a fine-toothed comb so that it will grab the finer dead hairs. Some combs are silicone-coated to glide easily.

Tip : Long hair is very difficult to manage on rabbits. You should consider clipping the hair short, to about 1 inch (2.5 cm) in length.

BATHING
In general, rabbits do not need to be bathed. For many rabbits, bathing is a stressful experience and as a source of stress, it has the potential for bringing our illness. If your rabbit has only a small area of their body that needs to be cleaned, bathe that area only. Non-medicated shampoos designed for dogs and cats are fine for rabbits. If you can find one, use a hypoallergenic non soap shampoo with moisturisers or conditioners. Do not use a shampoo made for humans; our shampoos are very drying to animals. Make sure your rabbit does not become chilled from its bath. If necessary, rabbits can be dried with a hair dryer set to a warm setting. High settings should never be used because of the risk of heat stress.

If you absolutely must bathe your rabbit's face, be very sure to keep shampoo out of their eyes. You can protect them by applying a non-medicated eye ointment over the cornea before the bath. A drop of mineral oil can be used as a substitute for eye ointment, but only use it sparingly.

EARS
Your bunny's ears should also be attended to during the regular grooming session. Examine them for signs of waxy buildup or debris. Clean your bunny's ears with a solution that can be purchased from your Vet. Dark wax or the appearance of dirt in the ears can be a sign of ear mites. Never stick cotton swabs or any such items into the ear canal. If you own one of the lop-eared breeds, you will have to pay special attention to the ears during grooming time. Because an ear that hangs down instead of standing straight up is not natural and fosters moisture buildup, lop-eared rabbits are more prone to ear infections. Examine your lop's ears closely for excess wax buildup, debris or foul smell.

NAILS
Trimming your rabbit's toenails is also a necessary part of your grooming sessions, although it will not need to be done every week. Check the length and condition of your rabbit's nails every time you groom them. Once they appear to be getting long, it is time to trim them.

Prepare to trim your rabbit's nails by wrapping them in a towel and placing them gently in your lap, with the bunny's legs facing upward. Use your clipper to take off a portion of the nail. Be careful not to cut the quick in the toenail (the quick is the end of the live pink tissue in the nail bed and includes blood and nerves), because doing so can cause pain to the rabbit and a bloody toenail. A silhouette of the quick can be seen by holding the nail up to a light.

If your nervous about trimming your bunny's nails, or if your bunny struggles when you try to hold them in your lap, you may want to ask your vet to show you how to perform this necessary function safely and effectively before you do it yourself.

GROOMING CHECKLIST
When you are brushing and combing your pet, keep an eye out for fleas. Rabbits are just as susceptible to fleas as dogs are especially if they live or play outside. If you find fleas on your pet, contact your veterinarian for information on how to rid your rabbit of these pests. Your vet can provide you with rabbit safe chemicals designed to kill fleas and give you details on how to eliminate fleas from your rabbit's environment.

As you brush or comb your rabbit, keep an eye out for any lumps or sores on them which may be an indication of disease or infection. Crusts and scabs suggest the presence of mites.

While you are handling your rabbit, check its eyes and ears for any discharge. Examine the bottoms of its feet for sores and check under its chin to make sure that their scent gland is not swollen or infected.

 

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