Though it’s not uncommon for rabbits to lose their fur, it can be alarming for a pet owner. If your rabbit is experiencing fur loss, you’ve come to the right place.
There are several reasons why rabbits lose fur. Some reasons are natural, while others may be due to an underlying problem such as injury or allergies.
In this article, we discuss the possible causes and solutions for rabbit fur loss. We also help you identify when your furry friend has a problem and tell you how to solve it.
Fur loss, or shedding, is mostly not worrisome. It’s natural for rabbits to shed their fur throughout the year. It happens naturally for the following reasons:
As rabbits grow, they go into cycles of changing their fur.
First, at 5 months old, they replace their baby fur with a transitional coat. After that, they develop their adult coat, which goes through yearly shedding.
Molting is a natural process that many animals undergo. When rabbits molt, they shed their old fur and grow a new coat. This process typically happens twice a year; in the spring and autumn.
The molting season usually lasts around 2-6 weeks. The speed of shedding will depend on how long it lasts. Rabbits experience different shedding speeds.
However, domestic rabbits live in different conditions than wild rabbits and are exposed to less sunlight. Therefore, their shedding patterns are different, and they might shed more.
The shedding usually starts from the head and then goes down to the end of the rabbit’s body. Yet, rabbits have different shedding patterns. Sometimes a rabbit may lose its fur in patches!
Observe your rabbit during its molting seasons to know its shedding pattern.
Rabbits lose a large amount of fur that can turn into hairballs that they swallow when licking themselves. Swallowing hairballs could eventually lead to digestive problems.
To prevent hairball buildup, brush your rabbit during the molting season. Brushing will help it shed its coat faster and remove hairballs.
Sometimes the shedding may be caused by a health issue or an external factor. Here are some of the common issues that cause fur loss in rabbits.
Mites are tiny parasites that live on the hair and skin of rabbits and other animals. They cause irritation, itchiness, and fur loss in rabbits. Mites are also contagious and can spread to other rabbits or pets nearby.
You can treat mites with medicines that include active ingredients such as selamectin and ivermectin. You should see a vet first so they can prescribe the proper medication for your rabbit.
This is a fungal infection that affects rabbit skin and hair. It causes irritation, scaling, bald or red spots, and fur loss.
Ringworm is highly contagious and spreads from direct contact. It can also spread to humans, so you must treat it immediately.
If you notice any symptoms in your rabbit, take it to the vet to get a prescription for antifungal treatment.
Rabbits commonly lose hair and have bald patches around an injured area. The amount of hair loss will depend on the severity of the injury.
If you notice an injury on your rabbit, observe it to ensure it’s healing well. If it’s a major injury, take your rabbit to the vet so it doesn’t become infected.
Urine scalding is an issue that occurs when urine remains on a rabbit’s fur and skin for too long. Since urine is very acidic, it irritates the skin and causes fur to fall out.
Urine scalding is a painful condition for rabbits and can lead to infections if left untreated. To avoid urine scalding, clean your rabbit’s living space and wipe urine traces regularly.
Just like us, rabbits could be allergic to certain foods. Allergies will cause a rabbit to excessively lick or scratch its fur until it falls out.
If your rabbit has an allergic reaction, it may show some of the following symptoms:
- Excessive nose drooling
- Eye redness
- Touching its face and nose a lot with its paws
- Rubbing its face a lot on the ground
- Excessive scratching
If your rabbit is showing any of those symptoms, it might be allergic to a certain food it’s eating. Moreover, it could be allergic to substances such as a cleaning product you’re using near it or strong fumes in the household.
Observe your rabbit to see what might be irritating it. If you find a certain food is causing the allergy, cut it out of the rabbit’s diet. If it’s another material, stop using it or keep the rabbit away from it.
When rabbits suffer from a dental problem, they might become unable to clean themselves properly. As such, they develop skin problems that lead to fur loss.
Dental problems may also cause rabbits to drool excessively. The drool sits on the skin and eventually causes saliva burn that also causes fur to fall out around the chin and mouth.
Rabbits sometimes pull out their fur, which causes their owners to worry. It’s a common behavior and can happen due to different reasons.
Rabbits are as sensitive as they look. They get stressed easily by factors such as environmental changes, moving to a new home, and loud noises. They require a comfortable, calm environment to stay relaxed.
When rabbits get stressed, they try to calm themselves down through self-grooming. While grooming is a normal behavior, a rabbit can sometimes be overly stressed that they excessively groom themselves. This results in pulling out their fur and having bald patches.
Any irritation in a rabbit’s skin, caused by any of the issues we mentioned previously such as mites, allergies, or fungal infection will cause the rabbit to pull out its fur to try and relieve the irritated skin underneath,
Therefore, it’s important to treat any skin problems as early as you notice them. It’s also equally important to keep the rabbit’s space clean to avoid such problems.
When a female rabbit is preparing to have babies, she builds a nest for them with her fur. A pregnant rabbit releases hormones that loosen her fur. So, she’ll start to pull it out and create a nest. This is a normal behavior for rabbits and not a cause for concern.
Female rabbits also commonly experience false pregnancies. This also creates a change in hormones. A rabbit will also pull out fur, and build a nest in a false pregnancy.
You know now that fur loss could be normal or problematic, but how do you tell the difference? Let’s look at some abnormal signs of fur loss in rabbits.
Once you understand the difference, you can know when a problem requires intervention, or when fur loss is normal.
- The skin has a crusty or flaky appearance
- Inflammation of the skin
- Hair loss around an injury
- Any allergy symptoms
It’s a common occurrence for rabbits to lose their fur yearly due to molting. Usually, fur loss is a normal process for rabbits. However, sometimes there may be an underlying health issue.
If you notice signs such as crust or inflamed skin, your rabbit might be unwell. Problems such as mites, fungal infections, or dental problems can cause rabbits to lose their fur.
If you notice any signs of illness, you must take your rabbit to the vet for the necessary treatment and medication. Moreover, you must always clean your rabbit’s cage or living space to prevent skin infections.
If you follow these simple tips, you can keep your furry friend happy and healthy for a long time.
I have a bachelor’s degree in Film/Video/Media Studies, as well as an associates degree in Communications. I began producing videos and musical recordings nearly 15 years ago. I am a guitarist and bassist in Southwest MI and have been in a few different bands since 2009, and in 2012 I began building custom guitars and basses in my home workshop as well. When I’m home, I love spending time with my three pets (a dog, cat, and snake) and gardening in my backyard. I also like photographing wild birds, especially birds of prey.