When you get your pet bunny, you may see a lot of fur laying around – and it is A LOT. Is this normal? Do rabbits shed (or molt)?
Rabbits molt or shed their fur twice a year: in fall to get rid of their summer coat and then again in spring to get rid of their winter coat. There may also be two other small shedding seasons. If your pet rabbit doesn’t spend a lot of time in the sun, it may shed all year long.
So what is excessive molting in rabbits and what is normal? Is there anything special you should look out for so you can continue to take excellent care of your bunny?
Let’s dive into rabbit molting and lots of furriness.
Why and How Do Rabbits Molt?
Rabbits need to shed their coats to ensure that they grow a healthy coat for winter or summer. In summer, bunnies need a less dense and shorter fur coat, and in winter, their coat needs to be fuller and plush to help them keep warm.
But how does a rabbit molt?
Process of Molting
When rabbits are not molting, they have sleek and shiny coats. When a bunny starts molting, its fur coat starts to look shaggy or raggedy. You’ll notice tufts of fur on your rabbit’s coat. Your fluffy-long eared pal may also have an uneven coat color.
Molting starts along your bunny’s forehead and jaw, and there may even be a fur line, marking the difference between the old and new coat of fur.
As your rabbit continues to shed, they start to lose their coat along their back and then down their sides. While playing with your bunny or petting them, you’ll find clumps of fur coming away from their coat.
Rabbits don’t always follow the normal pattern when molting; instead, they blow their coat. When this happens, your rabbit loses large chunks of its fur in one go.
When your rabbit blows its coat, you will notice that there are bald patches in the fur coat; however, this is temporary. In these patches, fur usually grows back within a few days. The fur that grows here may also be darker and this is completely normal and nothing to worry about.
If fur isn’t growing in the bald patches, you may find that the patch looks irritated and red. You should contact your vet so they can check out your rabbit as this could be a sign of illness.
When Do Rabbits Molt?
Rabbits generally molt or shed their coats two to four times a year, or every three months. The first two major moltings occur in fall when the bunny gets rid of its summer coat and in spring when it loses its winter coat. These are major seasonal molts since your rabbit is preparing for big changes in temperature.
The two minor moltings are periodic and these only last a couple of weeks. Regularly grooming your fluff ball during these moltings is recommended as you won’t see as much fur laying around.
Also, your baby bunny will shed its first coat when they move into adulthood, which occurs when they are between 18-24 weeks old. When the bunny has shed its “teenager” coat, it will have an adult coat and will shed two to four times a year.
How Long Do Bunnies Molt For?
Rabbits molt for two to six weeks. This molting timeline depends on the breed of your pet rabbits as well as the season and how much natural sunlight your rabbit gets.
How Can I Help My Rabbit Molt?
At times, your rabbit may have shed their coat except for its sides or butt. You can help your bunny molt by brushing these areas with a flea brush or a fine-toothed comb.
However, there are some rabbits that don’t like to be groomed. If this is the case with your Mr/Ms. Fluffles, you can butt pluck. (Yes, you read that right.)
Butt plucking is when you pluck loose fur from your bunny while petting them. This helps them to finish molting and have a new coat all over their body.
Even if your bunny doesn’t have problems molting, you can help them molt faster by regularly brushing their coat. This has the added benefit of ensuring that your fluff ball doesn’t eat too much of their fur.
Eating too much of their own hair can cause digestive problems, and this is something you surely want to avoid. Rabbits are fastidious groomers, so during molting season if you don’t brush your bunny frequently, it is likely that hairballs can result in gastrointestinal (GI) problems.
Feed more hay to your bunny as this helps their digestive tract moving along smoothly. You can also give your rabbit a small piece of banana but ensure you don’t overdo this as banana is high in calories, and it isn’t healthy for your fluff ball to eat a diet high in sugar and calories. You can also add some dandelion leaves to help hydrate your rabbit’s digestive tract.
Since rabbits cannot vomit, any obstruction, like a hairball, needs to move along the digestive system. As such, more hay, some banana, and dandelion leaves ensure GI problems are unlikely.
You should check your bunny’s dropping every day during shedding season. If you see hair in your rabbit’s poop, known as fecal chains, add more dark green veggies. If your rabbit is constipated and there is no poop, then you need to take your bunny to the vet as GI stasis can kill your pet.
Apart from grooming, you can also wet your hands and then rub your bunny’s whole body, both forwards and backward. Wash your hand to get rid of the fur that sticks to you. And repeat this regularly until your rabbit has stopped molting.
The Last Molt
Rabbit molting is normal, and your bunny will molt roughly every three months once it reaches adulthood. It can follow the normal patterns of patch molting that start with your bunny losing its coat by its jaw and forehead, and then this progresses down its body. Your rabbit may also blow its coat and lose large patches of fur at once.
Knowing what is normal and what isn’t, as well as how you can help your bunny shed by regularly brushing them – assists you to look after your rabbit in the best way possible.