The purpose of this blog is to share general information and is written to the author's best knowledge. It is not intended to be used in place of veterinary advice. For health concerns, please seek proper veterinary care.
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Owning a pet comes with many responsibilities, and as a pet owner, you need to understand how to handle the different aspects of your pet’s life, so you can both enjoy quality time together.
Rabbits make great companions because they’re easy to take care of compared to other pets. However, dealing with shedding can become a nightmare for some rabbit owners.
So, do rabbits shed? Which rabbit breed sheds the least?
Luckily, you’ve come across this article because we’ll answer all your questions, so keep on reading.
Do Rabbits Shed?
Rabbits naturally shed several times throughout their lives.
Shedding or molting happens first when the bunny is young, around 4 or 5 months old. The baby bunny loses its baby coat during this period and grows a transitional coat before growing its adult fur.
The transitional coat lasts for about 3 months, and then the adult coat grows to announce that your pet bunny has reached adulthood.
After that, wild rabbits will molt their fur twice a year, during spring and fall. But the same doesn’t happen for pet rabbits that live at home with their owners.
Domestic rabbits tend to molt irregularly compared to wild ones, and the molting pattern can be a little bit more inconsistent. Some rabbits tend to shed their coats all the time.
Rabbits shed their coats to keep themselves comfortable, so they’ll shed their heavier coat that keeps them warm in winter and grow a lighter coat in spring.
Some rabbits also change color when they molt, so their winter fur tends to be lighter in color for better camouflage in the snow.
Thanks to their changing coats, rabbits are able to keep themselves comfortable in different temperatures. This will protect them from suffering from a heat stroke in the summer or hypothermia in winter.
In between these two molting seasons, rabbits can also have shorter molting intervals. This happens when the rabbit loses some but not all its fur.
These smaller molting seasons are less predictable and can happen for any health issue or a change in the rabbit’s surroundings.
Pet rabbits are kept in the house all the time, so they don’t need thicker fur in winter. However, they’d still molt and change their coat as the temperature changes.
Nevertheless, because they don’t have to be outdoors like wild rabbits, they might shed more frequently, thus losing the old fur and growing a new furry coat.
Molting can also happen because of other factors.
A change in the bunny’s diet can prompt it to shed and grow new fur.
Stress, suffering from several illnesses, and taking some medications can also cause your rabbit to lose its coat and grow a new one.
How Long Does Rabbit Shedding Last?
The molting or shedding season can last between two and six weeks. The rabbit will lose all its furry coat during this period and grow a new one depending on the weather.
However, the time duration differs from one breed to another and between two different rabbits of the same breed.
When a rabbit molts all its fur in two weeks, you can expect to deal with a lot of fur over a short period of time. However, a longer period means that the rabbit will shed a consistent stream of fur instead of all at once.
What Does a Molting Rabbit Look Like?
Rabbits usually have shiny, sleek, and soft coats that appear thicker in winter. When it’s time to molt or shed their fur, the fur starts to look shaggy and clumpy.
You might start to see tufts of fur stuck to the coat, which signifies that the bunny is about to lose its coat. The color also starts to look less even.
The shedding usually starts from the bunny’s head around the forehead and then travels down to the jaw.
After that, the rabbit will start losing fur from the neck and shoulders. The rabbit keeps on losing fur all over its body until it has gotten rid of all the old coat, and in some instances, you’ll be able to see a definite line that signifies the difference between the old coat and the new one.
The shedding then starts on the back and sides, and this is where the most amount of fur exists. As a result, during this particular period, you should expect to find the most amount of fur in the house as your bunny sheds its old coat.
The speed of shedding also accelerates. The shedding usually starts slow, then it becomes more intense toward the middle of the molting season, but it slows down again towards the end.
After losing the old coat, the rabbit’s skin turns a little darker as the new coat grows.
However, this might not be true for some breeds. For example, some rabbits tend to lose their furry coat less consistently, so they’ll just lose fur and have bald patches on different parts of their bodies, all at the same time.
This is known as a coat blow, and it’s less predictable. The rabbit doesn’t lose its fur gradually, but all at once, and the skin looks darker where the new fur is growing.
This condition is rare, but it’s normal. However, if the bunny doesn’t grow new fur within a few days or the skin looks red, scaly, swollen, or irritated, you need to take your vet to the doctor to have it examined.
Why Do Some Rabbits Take Longer to Molt?
The duration of the molting season differs according to the rabbit’s breed and health. Other factors like illnesses or stress can cause the rabbit to molt faster or slower.
Some rabbits get stuck in molting. This happens when they begin the molting process and start losing fur from their heads and shoulders, but the shedding stops around the stomach and flanks.
As a result, your pet rabbit might have new fur on the face and shoulders and tufts of the old coat on the rest of the body.
This might show that the bunny is suffering from a nutritional deficiency. In this case, adding some proteins to the rabbit’s diet will help it get rid of the older coat faster.
Using a flea comb will also help as it gets rid of the clumps of the old fur to help the body with shedding.
If your bunny doesn’t feel comfortable while being brushed or combed, you can also remove the fur with your hands.
While you’re playing with or petting your pet rabbit, you can wet your hands and gently run your fingers through the fur to remove any fur clumps. The falling fur will stick to your hand easily, and you can discard it without startling your bunny.
You should, however, never pluck or pull any fur because it will be painful.
In Which Months Do Rabbits Shed?
Molting or shedding happens around three months apart.
In the wild, the changes in the weather and the amount of sunlight tell the rabbit that it’s time to shed its fur. So, the biggest molting seasons usually happen at the end of the summer in October and at the end of winter in March and April.
However, this depends on the temperature, so you can expect your bunny to shed its fur earlier if you live in a warmer area.
The same applies to indoor pet rabbits. They change their coats depending on the temperature, so since they live in controlled environments, they might shed their winter coats earlier.
How Much Shedding Is Normal?
The amount of shedding that a single rabbit experiences differs according to different factors.
For example, when the bunny is losing its first baby coat, the shedding is less intense.
For an adult rabbit, the amount of fur shed in spring is more than the shed coat in fall. This happens because, in the spring, the rabbit loses its winter coat which is typically heavier and thicker.
During the light molting seasons throughout the year, you might not even notice that your rabbit is shedding. Of course, you can find some fur, but it won’t be spreading all over the house.
How Can I Know that my Rabbit is Shedding Abnormally?
Shedding can be abnormal if the rabbit is molting noticeably in the colder months. This might mean that its current coat is unable to provide warmth, so it needs to grow a thicker one.
Some rabbits will also shed more frequently because of alopecia. This is different from having bald patches while molting, which your bunny might experience.
Alopecia can happen because of stress or a skin infection. The vet should examine the bunny and prescribe a treatment to help it grow its fur.
Parasites, hormonal imbalances, and bad diets can also cause your bunny to shed more often. If the skin looks flaky, scaly, red, or the rabbit has bald patches all over the body, you need to consult the vet.
Which Rabbit Breed Sheds the Least?
Although all rabbits shed, some breeds shed less, so they’ll be suitable for people who can’t handle the mess of regular molting.
Rex and Mini Rex rabbits have shorter fur. So, although they shed just like other rabbit breeds, pet owners usually find that they don’t have to deal with a lot of mess.
They’re also quite adorable, so they’re suitable for first-time rabbit owners.
The same applies to Tan rabbits that tend to have a shorter furry coat. As a result, they also require little grooming.
Silver Marten rabbits are rather large and have long and plush fur. However, they shed their coat less frequently and thus require less frequent grooming and brushing.
Angora rabbits tend to shed less compared to other bunny breeds. This is because breeders have long bred these rabbits for their long fur, and over the years, the fur quality has improved.
As a result, Angora rabbits tend to molt their coat less often, but they need regular brushing and combing. The long fur is prone to matting and tangles, so you need to be careful about grooming and brushing them.
Nevertheless, Angora rabbits aren’t suitable for people who suffer from allergies. They would still shed, and the long fur can be extremely uncomfortable if you suffer from allergies.
Other breeds that have longer coats and require more frequent grooming are the Flemish Giants, Lionheads, and Jersey Woolies. Unfortunately, they also tend to shed more compared to other breeds, so they won’t work for you if you’re allergic or don’t want to deal with a lot of fur.
How Can I Stop my Rabbit from Shedding?
Shedding is normal and necessary for rabbits, so you can’t and shouldn’t stop your rabbit from shedding.
You can, however, put the shedding under control and help your rabbit throughout the process by following these tips.
- Pay attention to the bunny’s lineage. If your bunny comes from two parents that shed too much, it makes sense that this will be the same case with it.
- A balanced diet with enough high-quality pellets, timothy hay, and fresh veggies will keep your rabbit in perfect shape and keep the coat silky and strong. In addition, rabbits that suffer from malnutrition tend to shed more often.
- Keep your bunny inside the house to overcome weather fluctuations. In a controlled environment, your rabbit will shed less often.
- Keep your rabbit comfortable and reduce stress because it contributes to more shedding.
- Gently groom and comb your rabbit if this doesn’t startle it. This will help you get the shed fur under control so you don’t find it all over the house.
Rabbits shed their coats several times during the year, and some pet owners feel alarmed.
However, this is perfectly normal as it’s the rabbit’s way of adapting to the changing weather conditions. This is why they grow a lighter coat in summer and a thicker one in winter.
Although some rabbits shed fast, the new coat takes about 6 weeks to appear in some cases.
Nevertheless, there’s nothing that you can do to stop this process because it’s necessary for the rabbit’s wellbeing.