Sunday, August 2, 2015

Adventures in raising Angora rabbits Part 2 - Grooming

As I mentioned in my last post, we have been learning by doing with our Angora rabbits.  We have had them now for just about 7 months.  You can ask my hubby, the first couple months I was convinced they were dying any time one of them did anything abnormal in my eyes.  "Is Penny breathing too fast?" I'd ask.  "I think something is wrong with Rory, he seems funny." I'd state to Ric, who would assure me that he was just fine.  

Penny showing off her moves...

So needless to say, this has ALL been a learning experience for me.  Thankfully, I have been able to go online and find resources (however, this can also be bad, as many resources provide scarier answers than needed...) and ask questions of the folks we got the rabbits from.  But there are very differing views on grooming.  For Angora rabbits, this is a very important part of keeping the rabbits.  They are more work than other domestic rabbits.  This is something I let folks know of every time I am asked if I will breed to sell.  The only way I will sell is if the person fully understands that these rabbits will be much more work to care for than they think.

 For us, we have fallen into a grooming schedule that consists of a once weekly full body brushing, trimming the underside of the rabbit, around it's face, the bottoms of the paws, and nail trimming. 

Penny a week or so after her first trimming with us.
And Rory needing a trim.
This is where getting them used to being belly up is pretty important.  They need to be inspected...down there....fairly frequently to make sure all seems to be ok and keep fur trimmed to keep clean.  Penny was well trained on her back when we got her, so she is my piece of cake.  Rory however...well, let's just say he is always a handful, and a handful of scratches seems to just be par for the course.

Thanks a lot Rory.  You little booger.

I am working with the babies often to be held and turned on their backs.  They are still squirmy about it, but getting better.  

D'aaawwww!  So cuuuttee!

I have my set of clothes that I wear on the big grooming day of the week....and this is usually the aftermath...

Then throughout the week I try to make sure I check them for any other grooming issues.  Rabbits are pretty clean animals, and will clean themselves often, kind of like cats.  But that comes with another set of issues for Angoras.  They can't just work up a hairball like a cat does, so it gets caught in their intestinal system.  It is fairly easy to spot with them in the cage...let's just say that the bottom of the cage has 'ornaments' dangling down (aka poos connected by hairs.)  I have learned that if it is serious, you can use cat hairball goo you would buy at the pet store to help work stuff out.  But I prefer to keep a good stock of timothy hay (fiber!) for them, and every couple weeks or so supplement their water with 100% pineapple juice.  Apparently it has enzymes that help breakdown the hair in their system.

"Feed me more grass!"
In addition to the once weekly grooming, every 3 months (and more frequently in the summer) we give them a full trim.  After just 3 months their hair is to about 3 or more inches long, which is what we need to spin it.  We just use sharp scissors to trim them, which works well but gives them a funny hairdo for a couple weeks.  They don't seem to mind, since they are nice and cool without all that hair.
3 inches long already Rory?

Kinda hard to see, but the right side is trimmed and the left is next!

Next time I will share with you the ups and downs we have learned so far about breeding....and it is a lot of both for sure!


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