When people get their first English Angora, they must learn to groom the rabbit correctly. Some common frustrations that people have with English Angoras are often solved when they get the correct knowledge. I have identified a few items that perplex the new and intermediate breeder unnecessarily, and will give solutions. If you have any other grooming frustrations, post them in the comments below and I may just write an article on it!
Grooming the English Angora Rabbit: Tackling Problem Areas
Matted Feet. Whenever I have an English Angora with wool on the feet that has become unmanageable, I simply trim the wool off. When the feet wool is tangled and causing you headaches, go ahead and trim it off!
If your rabbit is not a show rabbit, then the wool can be trimmed down anytime. In fact, trimming the feet can be part of its regular maintenance. If the rabbit is a show rabbit, try to trim the feet at least 3 to 4 weeks before a show. The wool on the feet grows back quickly, so if you do this 3-4 weeks before a show, it will most likely not even make a difference. In fact, when I have six weeks or more between shows, I will trim my show rabbit’s feet after the last show as a part of my normal routine. You will be amazed at how much easier grooming is when you have trimmed the feet and legs.
Matted Cheeks. If you have a problem grooming your rabbit’s cheeks, I have another trick for you. If I have a rabbit whose cheek wool is thick and difficult to groom, I will often trim off the bottom layer of the cheek wool. Just a little bit helps a lot. You need to make sure that the layer that you cut is not noticeable, but if the cheek wool is so thick to be causing problems, you should be fine. Just remove a little layer and see how it goes.
I would caution you from doing this the first time with your best show rabbit, you may want to try it on another one first until you can do it in a way that will not detract from the rabbit’s appearance. Additionally, prevention is the best cure for matted cheeks. Make sure to thoroughly groom the cheek wool at least once a week, and stay up to date with fur mite prevention. Fur mites love to play underneath cheek wool and wreak havoc.
Matted Behind the Ears. If a bunny starts to matt right behind the base of the ears, I simply cut it off. But wait! You do not want to cut the wool off that is parallel to the body, only the wool that is on the base of the ears, and is perpendicular to the body. Any rabbit that is not a show rabbit can have any wool in any area trimmed, so my caution above does not apply.
Why? You do not want to cut the wool that is needed for the rabbit to maintain its appearance for show. Once again, it is a far better practice to maintain the wool and keep it on the rabbit. Fur mites also love to live here, so prevention of that is key as well.
Dirty Bottoms. If you have one of those English Angora’s that likes to get dirt on its bottom, then make sure to keep that area thoroughly trimmed. If the wool gets dirty from the rabbit pooping or peeing, then the wool is in the way and should be trimmed. Wool behind and between the feet is especially at risk of “being in the way.”
In addition to keeping the area trimmed neatly, if you have one that is particularly messy, you can spray hydrogen peroxide or white vinegar on the cage floor daily. Doing this will save you a lot of headaches, EXCEPT, you should not use this when a rabbit is a darker color, such as a black or a chocolate. Feel free to do it with the torts or white ones though! I also don’t have a problem doing this with a white bellied rabbit, like chestnuts. I try to spray the floor every time I remove a show rabbit which is quite simple to do if you have a hydrogen peroxide spray bottle that I keep by each of the cages. You can get an entire gallon of Hydrogen Peroxide at Entirely Pets on sale for 13.98 by CLICKING HERE and then spray to your hearts content.
If you have a show rabbit, realize that trimming the genital area is not a bad thing, and is something that I do commonly as routine maintence. If it does not detract from the look of the rabbit, it should not count against you on the show table as it is often necessary for the health of the rabbit.
Webbed/Matted Wool on the Shoulders. Unfortunately, difficult shoulders do not have an easy fix, and must be prevented to keep your show rabbit looking fabulous. Be very diligent about your fur mite prevention program fur mites and keep up with maintenance grooming. Once again, fur mites are often the culprit, they are wicked little things that love to play in and tangle wool.
If you have a rabbit with webbed shoulders that you cannot harvest because you want to show it, then you will need to get to work. While grooming is an art so everyone will have different tactics, I just use my fingers and the blower. I will pull it apart with my fingers, and then use the dog blower repeatedly until it is done. Once in awhile I will use a comb, but I try to make sure that the majority of my work is done with the fingers and the blower so that the majority of the wool stays on the rabbit. Once you use a grooming tool, wool will be coming out and the rabbit will be less dense
Remember, that your goal is to keep the wool on the rabbit! So, pull apart webbing, and then blow. Repeat, repeat, and repeat. Take it as punishment for not keeping up your maintenance which would have prevented the problem!
As you can see, most of what I have written is saying that PREVENTING the issue is the best solution. In the long run, taking the small amount of time to PREVENT the problem and doing your normal maintenance grooming is a FAR better solution if you are trying to maintain a nice show English Angora.
English Angoras do not have to be difficult if you are consistent with your grooming. The tricks above will help you when things have gone wrong, but these areas will never look as good as if they were properly maintained to begin with.