The Angora rabbit is one of the oldest breeds of rabbit and is well known for its silky and fluffy coat that is mostly used for spinning and knitting. Angora rabbits are first and foremost amazing wool providers and show rabbits, but they can also be kept as pets.
So, are Angora rabbits friendly? Yes, Angora rabbits are friendly, affectionate, and intelligent animals that like to snuggle close to their owners. They also love to play and form strong bonds with their people. Despite their gentle and amicable nature, Angoras dislike being picked up so take extra care when handling your rabbit.
If you are interested in raising Angora rabbits for wool production, as pets, or for shows, keep on reading! In this article, we’ll talk about different breeds of Angora rabbits and hopefully help you pick the right one for you.
What Is Angora Rabbit?
The Angora rabbit is one of the oldest breeds of domestic rabbit. They are primarily bred for the long fibers of their coat, known as the Angora wool which is gathered by shearing, plucking, or combing.
At this time, there are at least 11 distinctive breeds of Angora rabbits. Only four are officially recognized by the American Rabbit Breeders Association, including English Angora, French Angora, Satin Angora, and Giant Angora.
Other breeds of Angora rabbits are German Angora, Finnish Angora, Chinese Angora, Korean Angora, Russian Angora, Japanese Angora, Swiss Angora, and St Lucian Angora.
Angora Rabbit History and Origin
The Angora rabbit is believed to have originated in Ankara, historically known as Angora, in Turkey. This rabbit breed was brought to France in 1723 and have soon become the favorite pet of French royalty.
By the end of the 18th century, the Angora rabbit had spread and become popular in other parts of Europe too.
In the United States, clothes made from Angora wool have been popular ever since they first arrived at the beginning of the 20th century. While Angora rabbits are mostly bred for wool fiber, they are also popular show animals, and pets in the USA.
Types of Angora Rabbit
As mentioned previously, there are at least 11 Angora rabbit breeds that we know of, four of which are officially recognized by the American Rabbit Breeders Association.
If you are planning to breed Angora rabbits as show animals or pets or raise them for wool production there are several Angora breeds you can choose from.
Listed below are the most popular Angora breeds that are raised as pets or kept for wool production.
The English Angora is the smallest of the Angora breeds recognized by the American Rabbit Breeders Association. Weighing between 4.4 and 7.5 pounds this rabbit breed has distinctive facial features that make them resemble a puppy or a stuffed teddy bear (source).
Due to its smaller size and cute, fluffy appearance, English Angora rabbits are more commonly kept as pets rather than wool producers. Although gentle and calm in nature, this breed isn’t recommended for your children or people who don’t groom their rabbits regularly.
English Angora rabbits have thick wooly coats growing on the ears and the entire face, except above the nose and front feet. If the texture of the wool is right, grooming is fairly easy.
But if the texture of the fur is cottony, it will require much more maintenance and daily grooming to prevent mats and tangles from forming.
The English Angora is recognized in several colors, including agouti, pointed white, ruby-eyed white, self, and shaded. They are also the only breed of Angora rabbits that have hair covering their eyes.
The French Angora has a commercial body type and is one of the largest Angora breeds weighing between 7.5 and 10 pounds. Unlike the English Angora rabbit, the French variety possesses a clean face, hairless face, and front feet with only minimal tufting on the hind feet.
This breed has a dense undercoat but if the texture of the coat is correct, French Angoras require less grooming than other Angora varieties.
In the case of French Angora, the guard hair makes up the majority of the coat making this breed a better option for first-time Angora owners and hand spinners.
French Angora rabbits can come in several different colors including, agouti, broken, pointed white, shaded, self, ticked, and wideband. This variety produces Angora fiber with a smooth and silky texture which is often used for sweaters, baby clothing, and mittens.
The Satin Angora was developed in the late 1970s by crossing French Angoras and the rabbits of the Satin breed. Satin Angora rabbits weigh between 6.6 and 10 pounds and come in eight color groups.
Like the French Angora, the Satin Angora doesn’t have any furnishings on the face, front feet, and ears.
The coat has a translucent sheen that reflects light thus giving the fur a high sheen and a deep lustrous color. While the hairs have an extremely soft and silky texture the Satin Angora doesn’t produce as much wool as other Angora varieties. But breeders are working on improving this trait through selective breeding.
The coat of Satin Angora is more difficult to groom and maintain than the fur of French Angora, but not as difficult as grooming an English Angora.
Due to the soft texture of the wool and fewer guard hairs in the coat, the matting is a common occurrence in Satin Angoras. Therefore, daily grooming is a must!
While the Satin Angora wool is reputedly stronger for spinning, its soft and silky texture makes it slippery and hard for beginner spinners to use.
The Giant Angora is the largest of the officially recognized Angora breeds. This breed was developed by breeding German Angoras, Flemish Giants, and French Lops in order to make a bigger rabbit who will be a higher fiber producer.
The Giant Angora doesn’t have a maximum weight and was primarily developed to be an efficient wool producer. Their wool consists of three fiber types – the soft underwool, awn fluff, and awn hair (source).
The underwool coat is medium-fine, soft, and finely waved and should be the most dominant type of hair. Located between the underwool and the awn hair is the awn fluff that has a guard hair tip and is stronger compared to the underwool coat.
The third layer of the fiber is awn hair, also known as guard hair. Straight and strong, the awn hair sticks out above the wool and must be present. This breed doesn’t naturally shed, so the wool must always be harvested by hand shearing.
The Giant Angora has furnishings on the face and ears, and the ruby-eyed white is the only recognized color by the American Rabbit Breeders Association.
Large in size and often mistaken for the Giant Angora, the German Angora weighs between 5.5 and 11.5 pounds. Although not officially recognized this breed has its own association, the International Association of the German Angora Rabbit Breeders (source).
German Angora rabbits are major fiber producers and can produce an astounding 2 ½ to 4 ½ pounds of wool per year. Apart from being amazing wool producers, this variety also has pronounced furnishings on their faces and ears, commonly known as tassels.
While all Angora rabbits are treasured for their fluffy coat, the German Angora is by far the highest wool producer. Another great thing about the German variety is that their coat is easy to maintain since they have a non-molt gene.
Their fur is also resistant to matting and they don’t have to be brushed or groomed. However, every three months, the German Angora rabbits must be sheared and their wool can be spun into yarn.
Angora Rabbit Care
Like all other rabbit breeds, the Angora rabbits need a dedicated owner who will have time and means to take care of their rabbit properly.
Before we get any further, all Angora rabbits have wooly and thick coats and higher grooming needs compared to short-haired rabbit breeds. The exact amount of grooming will depend on the type of Angora rabbit you decide to keep.
Generally speaking, be prepared to brush your Angora rabbit at least two times a week or more often if their coat is prone to matting.
Don’t forget that all Angora breeds are susceptible to wool block, a potentially fatal blockage of the digestive tract. All rabbits ingest some hair when they groom themselves, but their digestive system can’t pass foreign materials.
Due to the length and the fullness of their wool, Angora rabbits have a higher risk of impaction, which can prove fatal. Regular grooming in conjunction with clipping or plucking the Angora rabbit’s coat can lower the risk of wool block and intestinal blockage.
The great thing about all Angora rabbit breeds is that they can be kept both indoors and outdoors. In both cases, their living environment must be safe, comfortable, and large enough to allow your rabbit to move freely.
Whether you decide to keep your pet rabbits in an outdoor hutch or a wire cage make sure that the bottom is padded with soft bedding. Avoid using cages with wire bottoms since they are uncomfortable and can cause your bunny to develop sore hocks.
Be sure to spot clean the cage every day to maintain good hygiene and remove the entire bedding once a week.
When it comes to diet, all Angora rabbits should eat 70% hay and the rest of their diet should consist of pellets, and rabbit-safe fruits and veggies. Some rabbit-safe vegetables you can try feeding to your bunny include cauliflower, fennel, pumpkin, cucumber, asparagus, and watercress.
The Purpose of Breeding Angora Rabbits
Angora rabbits are primarily used and bred for wool production, although they make great pets and are often seen at rabbit shows. Breeding Angoras is fairly simple and inexpensive, and you don’t need a large acreage to raise rabbits like you would for raising sheep. Angora rabbits are popularly bred as:
Angora rabbits make great pets due to their calm, friendly, gentle, and docile nature. They can be kept both indoors or outdoors and most Angora breeds make amazing companions to families with children.
As mentioned previously, Angora rabbits are firstly bred as wool producers and only then raised as pets or show rabbits. Of all the wooly breeds, Angora rabbits are the highest producers able to produce up to 4 ½ pounds of wool per year.
As wool producers, Angoras are no-kill livestock which makes them interesting to many would-be rabbit farmers. When harvested, Angora fiber can be sold for profit or kept for hand-spinning.
Harvesting Angora Rabbit Wool
The Angora wool is harvested from the rabbit by either plucking or sheering. Harvesting occurs three times a year or every four months.
Most breeds of Angora rabbits molt naturally once every four months and many fiber producers pluck the wool of these breeds. Plucking, is in fact, pulling out the molting fur and is completely painless for the rabbit when done properly.
Plucking the fur ensures a minimum of guard hairs and the fur is not as matted as when collected from the rabbit’s cage. The only downside of plucking is that it’s time-consuming, so some people opt to shear their Angora rabbits instead.
Harvesting the Angora wool by shearing is done with clippers or small scissors. In most cases, a rabbit is placed on top of a groomer’s table and the shearing starts at the head, moving across the shoulders to the tail. The Angora rabbit is then flipped and its underside shorn from tail to chin.
While shearing results in slightly lower quality wool due to the presence of guard hairs, it’s less time-consuming than plucking and produces more wool overall.
Keep in mind that not all Angora breeds molt naturally, and if the rabbit doesn’t molt, it can’t be plucked. German Angora rabbits, for example, don’t molt so their wool can only be harvested by shearing.
Angora Rabbit Wool Uses
Prized for its softness, silky texture, and fluffiness the Angora wool is always in high demand. The Angora fibers can be sold raw, meaning straight from the rabbit, spun, dyed, or left in their natural color.
Since Angora wool is so fine, it’s usually blended with sheep’s wool, silk, cashmere, or mohair fibers. It’s much lighter and warmer than regular wool due to the hollow core of the angora fiber.
Angora wool is commonly used in clothing such as sweaters, mittens, scarves, and also for hand-spinning and felting.
Angora wool is great for felting and you can use it to make textile materials that can be later used for a wide variety of purposes. Wet felting is probably the most common way to make felt and is done by applying hot water to layers of animal hairs.
Compressing the Angora fibers repeatedly causes them to hook or weave together into a single piece of fabric. Besides Angora wool, only certain types of fibers can be wet felted including fleece taken from alpaca or Merino sheep, and hairs taken from mohairs, beavers, and muskrats.
Angora wool is suitable for spinning, although beginner spinners might find it a bit challenging. Raising Angora Rabbits for wool will not only boost your spinning and knitting projects, but it can also be a good source of income.
While you can sell the wool as it is, you can significantly increase your profits by spinning and knitting with the Angora wool and then selling the finished product, whether it’s a sweater, a shawl, or mittens.
Angora Rabbit Price
The Angora rabbit on average costs between $60 and $300. Keep in mind that there are several distinct Angora rabbit breeds and that some breeds may cost more than others.
In the end, how much you are going to spend on an Angora rabbit depends on the breeder, location, demand, breed, lineage, coat quality, and gender of the rabbit. Also, show quality Angora rabbits are more expensive and come with a higher price tag than pet quality rabbits.
Best known for its silky, soft, and fluffy coat, the Angora rabbit is primarily bred and raised as a wool producer. While their warm and fuzzy fiber is in high demand, Angora rabbits also make amazing pets and show animals.
Whether you are looking for a pet rabbit, or you want to start raising your own Angora rabbits for wool production, you can’t go wrong by choosing any of the five breeds listed above.
Just remember, Angora rabbits have higher grooming requirements compared to other rabbit breeds. So before you bring an Angora rabbit home make sure that you have the time and energy to keep up with their grooming routine.