Rabbit molting: Everything you need to know

Rabbit molting happens naturally and is certainly nothing to worry about. However, excessive shedding should be a great concern. kitten’s fur molt when they’re around 5 months old. An intermediate coat forms over their initial one and later on fully developed fur replaces it. Bunnies that are 6 months old or more molt twice per year, in spring and Autumn. This article dives deep into molting, and whether it’s natural or a sign of ill health. It also talks about a rabbit’s behavior, grooming, and how to prevent your pets from ingesting excessive fur when shedding.

How do I know if my rabbit is shedding naturally?

In general, rabbit coats often look shaggy during molting season. A normal rabbit molt starts off from the head and then goes down a rabbit’s neck and back. It then spreads on the sides of the body and finishes on its hind. The entire process typically takes around two to six weeks depending on the rabbit breed.

Normally a rabbit’s fur usually sticks out of its coat with a color that’s uneven. So you shouldn’t worry or think that it’s some kind of health issue when their fur appears unkempt or starts falling off.

Bunnies typically molt differently each season. For instance, they shed their thick fur in spring and replace it with a lighter coat during summer. Their coat then thickens again when fall begins and molts to form a thicker layer.

  • Coat blow shedding

Coat blow molting is rare and normally involves bunnies losing a big chunk of fur all at once. As a result, your bunny might have bald patches on its coat, however, fur that’s slightly darker grows back after a couple of days.

On the other hand, if patches on your pet’s coat don’t grow back after a few days and in turn, look red, take your pet to the vet. Skin irritation or bald spots is usually a sign of illness or health condition.

Other instances where a rabbit may shed

  • Nesting female rabbits shedding

The other way Does shed their fur is when nesting. This happens a lot during pregnancy/false pregnancy, especially with unspayed female rabbits. They usually pluck fur from their chest, dewlap, and belly section.

  • Stress or boredom

A stressed or bored bunny is most likely to chew and swallow its fur to express displeasure. It’s therefore ideal to keep them preoccupied with toys and a large play area. A bunny may also ingest its fur during molting season to try and speed up the irritating process.

 

How will I know if my rabbit is shedding excessively or not?

A rabbit’s coat covered with bald patches is one of the tell-tale signs that it’s shedding excessively. In other words, they’re losing the fur faster than it takes to grow back. Abnormally shedding is a result of a bunny chewing its fur due to stress. Another probable cause for excessive molting is ill health, which triggers a bunny to sheds all year round.

Excessive molting around the chin or mouth is a clear indicator of a dental condition. Shedding specifically around the eyes might be due to an eye infection, blocked tear duct, or a respiratory health condition.

When a bunny loses fur around its rear, there’s a high likelihood that it’s suffering from a urinary tract infection. A trip to the vet is therefore your best bet to treat this abnormality. Close interbreeding is another cause of rabbits shedding excessively especially when bad genes are involved. Adopting a bunny from a reputable breeder is essential if you want to avoid any shedding abnormalities.

Rabbit behavior during molting season

There is usually no change in behavior or eating habits when it comes to kitten shedding /transition to adult coats. On the other hand, molting adult bunnies can be quite unfriendly and will often prefer being left alone. The sudden change in attitude is simply because they’re slightly uncomfortable. The falling out and growing of fur oftentimes causes their skin to itch. However, a little grooming can help ease irritation by removing unwanted fur.

How molting can affect a rabbit’s digestion

Molting affects your pet’s digestive system only when they ingest excessive fur they’ve shed while grooming themselves by licking their coat clean. In the worst-case scenario, the fur clogging your rabbit’s digestive tract cannot be expelled making it hazardous.

When your bunny doesn’t eat much during its molting season or its droppings are chained together with fur, then it’s always recommended to take them to a vet. Nevertheless, prevention is better than cure. Below are some of the factors to consider when you want to prevent your rabbit from ingesting fur during the shedding season.

  • Fur brushing 

It’s always recommended to brush a normal bunny’s coat regularly when they’re molting to remove excessive fur. However, if your pet has woolly fur, then brush its coat once per week. Fur brushing helps to remove loose fur which your rabbit is most likely to ingest which can be detrimental to their health.

  • Access to water and fresh hay

Make sure that your rabbits have access to fresh water and hay, especially during molting season. A diet that’s high on fiber and a constant supply of water in a bowl enables easier digestion by preventing constipation or digestive tract blockage.

  • Mental stimulation

Another way to prevent your rabbits from ingesting their fur is to keep them preoccupied or mentally stimulated. Provide your pets with plenty of toys and a spacious environment for them to play in or exercise.

Rabbit molting grooming kit

The best grooming molting kits are a wide-tooth comb, flea comb, rubber brush, fur-buster, lint roller, a wood bristle brush, glove, and a rubber brush since bunnies naturally have sensitive skin. Also, avoid cutting tangled fur that is hard to brush or comb through. Instead, take your bunny to a vet for that.

Unnatural ways a rabbit might shed fur

 A rabbit will shed its coat abnormally either through bald patches or excessively mainly due to a health concern. Below are some of the factors that lead to a rabbit molting or losing fur unnaturally.

  • Over-grooming

A rabbit over-grooming itself often leads to excessive shedding in the long run. It’s mainly due to boredom or stress. Whatever the case, just ensure that your bunnies are in a conducive environment where they are mentally stimulated.

  • Skin infection

Skin infection is another factor that can cause a rabbit to shed their fur abnormally, especially in humid climates. A bunny is more susceptible to a skin infection in hot temperatures resulting from a minor injury or cut that takes longer to heal.

  • Fleas, mites, and ringworm

Parasites such as fleas, mites, or ringworms can be a major contributing factor to your pet’s fur loss. For instance, a flea infestation is usually hard to predict unlike mites although the latter is easily treatable. Fleas often cause severe itchiness that triggers a bunny to constantly scratch their coat which leads to fur loss.

Mites not only cause molting but are also responsible for skin crusts around the bunny’s eyes, ears, and nose. This particular infestation also leaves your bunny’s skin inflamed and vulnerable to infection. Ringworms, on the other hand, are caused by a fungal infection that leaves your bunny’s coat with patches and skin that irritates. They’ll also leave your bunny with small red bumps.

  • Urine scald

Urine usually causes fur loss, particularly around the hind legs, feet, tummy, and genitals. Bunnies that are unable to clean these regions suffer from moist dermatitis which can cause skin inflammation, irritation, redness, and oftentimes infection. This is usually a result of a tract infection brought about by urine dribbling down their lower body part. Urine scald is often common around obese, disabled, or old rabbits that are unable to clean their backside properly after urinating.

Additionally, a dirty enclosure or habitat can also cause molting. For instance,  a bunny that sits on its own urine or poop often is most likely to experience urine scalding around its genitals and hindquarters.

  • Saliva burn

Saliva burn underneath your pet’s chin and chest area can result in fur loss. This is quite common for rabbits that drool. Excessive saliva produced causes irritation or itching which eventually triggers your pet to scratch, leading to fur loss. Additionally, your bunny can also develop sores or rashes on their chin or around their chest area due to saliva burn.

Overgrown teeth are also another problem that causes your bunny to drool a lot which in turn promotes saliva burn. A rabbit with overgrowth teeth is most likely to drop some of its food when eating, which can be detrimental to its health.

Is it possible to speed up rabbit shedding?

Yes, you can do so by adding protein moderately to your bunny’s diet. It can be rather frustrating cleaning after your pets, especially if molting is slower than usual.

Why is my rabbit molting offseason?

A bunny that sheds its fur offseason, particularly those living indoors can be due to a day-night cycle confusion. In other words, in most cases, your rabbits are usually exposed to artificial lighting even when it’s winter or nighttime. Bunnys naturally rely on hours of daylight to determine seasons which eventually affects their molting pattern. It’s therefore advisable to ensure that your indoor rabbits are well adjusted to the seasons. This in turn enables them to shed their thick fur during summer and grow it back in winter.

Conclusion

Rabbit molting is essential since it helps with temperature regulation throughout the year. Regardless of a rabbit’s breed, shedding of fur is inevitable, however, it should be seasonal and not excessive. Lastly, always ensure that your bunnies are comfortable as possible and their habitat is clean and free from fur.

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