Angora rabbits are rabbits whose very long hairs have long been sought after for the manufacture of high-end products. Today, this type of operation is no longer very fashionable and Angora rabbits have mainly become pets. All rabbits should be taken care of, but Angora rabbits more than others. Why maintain them and especially how to brush them and groom them: we tell you everything!
Who is the angora rabbit?
These adorable hairballs have a genetic peculiarity that activates the functioning of the hair follicle: the hair of angora rabbits grows faster and longer than in other rabbits. To measure the difference, in short-haired rabbits, the hair cycle, that is to say the period during which the hair grows and at the end of which it falls, is one month. In angora rabbits, it is three months.
In France, two breeds of angora rabbit are officially recognized by the French Federation of Cuniculture: the French Angora, whose albino variation is famous for its fur, and the Dwarf angora, which is very popular as a pet. However, other countries also recognize English Angora, German Angora, Giant Angora and Satin Angora.
The French Angora weighs about 4.5 kg. The length of its ears varies between 9 and 12 cm and its hair can reach 10 cm long. The Angora Dwarf weighs no more than 1.7 kg, the length of its ears is about 6 cm, and that of its hair varies between 5 and 7 cm.
They are usually cuddly rabbits, attached to their adopted family.
How to brush and groom an Angora rabbit?
Like all long-haired rabbits, the Angora rabbit, whether dwarf or not, brushes several times a week, at least 3 times. This can become a daily brushing during periods of molting. If you are too lazy or don’t have enough time to do so, your rabbit may become seriously ill or even die.
To maintain the angora rabbit, we use a comb. If you are wondering why we say “brushing” rather than “combing”, this is what last term is used to refer to a type of textile fiber treatment and hides beating.
You comb your rabbit’s entire body to remove any knots. If you meet any, go for it slowly so as not to harm the rabbit. Know that its skin is thin and that it can give way under your efforts… By keeping the hairs at their roots, you will be able to pull more forcefully on the hairs to make the knots give way, without making the rabbit suffer.
A pair of scissors can be useful for cutting knots that you might not be able to untie, but also for clearing your rabbit’s field of vision. This is the opportunity to check his eyes and remove the hairs that may have stuck there and could cause irritation.
When using the scissors, be careful not to injure your rabbit. To be on the safe side, you can ask someone to hold it for the duration of the procedure. This moment of maintenance is not necessarily very pleasant for your rabbit. But there is no rule: some rabbits are very wise, others more restless. For the latter, giving them a small treat such as fresh fruit while brushing can be a bit of a diversion and calm them down.
When you put a rabbit on its back, it freezes. This is called the trance. There is controversy about this state: is it good or bad, is the rabbit in a state of hypnosis? We let the specialists answer the question precisely. But regarding brushing, it is not necessary to put him on his back to brush his stomach. You may very well do otherwise by having someone help you.
How to promote the growth of beautiful hair
The outer beauty of rabbits comes from within. To give a food quality Angora rabbit is the first reflex to have to promote the growth of beautiful hair. It consists of hay, pellets and vegetables, to cover all the food needs of the rabbit.
Its hygiene must also be impeccable: the cage must therefore be cleaned often, otherwise the hair may turn yellow in contact with the urine.
Whether or not it is about the quality of the coat, you should never expose a rabbit in direct sunlight. This is all the more true for an Angora rabbit because the sun contributes to dull the hair. In addition, the cold stimulates the density of the coat. Finally, a rabbit who is well in his cage and in his skin, will be in better mental health and will have a more beautiful appearance. Good physical health also promotes the beauty of the hairs.
Once the rabbit has been tamed, you can regularly run your hands against the grain of its coat to ventilate it and remove any dead hair. You can also massage your angora rabbit to stimulate the hair bulbs, but also to soothe you and your animal, and do him good.
Keep in mind that hair loss, outside of shedding periods, can be a sign of many conditions such as skin disease or severe stress. By regularly placing a watchful and benevolent eye on your rabbit, you will know, by its coat, whether it is doing well or not.
A brief history of the industrial exploitation of the angora rabbit
An adult rabbit can donate up to 1 kg of hair per year. The success of the Angora rabbit exploitation dates from the very beginning of the 20th century, when this rabbit was introduced in Maine-et-Loire. Not only the climate of this department suits him well, but Cholet knows then a flourishing textile industry. In the process, Nantes became an important hub for the trade in Angora rabbit hair. In the middle of the 20th century, French production represented about a third of world production. Between 1975 and 1985, the breeding is at its highest level, then it is the decline.
In France, the hair of the French angora was harvested by comb hair removal. Harvesting of the hairs is easy during the moulting period, since they fall by themselves at the change of season, in spring and especially in autumn. But a fodder with a depilatory effect was later developed to speed up the process and improve animal welfare.
The hairs of the German angora are harvested differently, by cutting with scissors or by shearing, but their quality is reputed to be less than that of French angoras: less soft and less shiny. However, the decline in production became global in the 2010s due to media campaigns denouncing the cruelty of the hair harvesting method in China and calling for a boycott of Angora wool products.