THE ENGLISH ANGORA RABBIT
The English Angora rabbit is a sweet-tempered animal that makes a loving and fun pet. Their soft, fuzzy wool grows from 4-10 inches long and can be spun into beautiful, soft, warm yarn. They require extra care for grooming, and shelter from the weather, and very hot and very cold temperatures.
CAGE: 2'X2 1/2' is a good cage size. Angora rabbits usually need to be caged alone unless they are of the same sex and raised together. Neutered males may be caged with others. We have purchased several of our cages from Orschlens. You will also need a tray under the cage unless it is an outside hutch.
EQUIPMENT: We have purchased rabbit-size water bottles, feed crocks and grooming brushes at WalMart or Orschlens. I also recommend a professional grooming comb which can be found at pet stores.
FOOD: We use Manapro by Carnation or Purina brand 18% protein feed for expectant does and growing bunnies if you have it available in your area. For the others the 16% is okay. We buy it in 50 lb. bags and store it in large plastic containers with lids or a garbage can. You will need to feed around 3/4 cup of feed per day. You can also add a small handful of raw oats, piece of carrot, bread, or greens (weeds & grass), or a bit of alfalfa hay as a treat.
WOOL BLOCK: Watch for this ailment. This is a ball of wool in the stomach preventing food from passing through the rabbit's digestive system. This will cause them to gradually starve. Symptoms: Rabbit goes off feed and water, and has small, hard, stringy droppings. You may feel a hard round lump in the stomach. Treatment: Clip wool off of rabbit so it does not ingest any more wool. Discontinue pellet food. Offer greens, carrot, whole oats, raisin bran cereal or straw. Papaya enzyme pills (can be purchased at health food stores) are very helpful and can be given several times a day. Get the rabbit out of their cage for some exercise.
CAUTION: If yours is a house rabbit and is allowed to run around the house, make sure that all electrical cords are out of reach of your rabbit. One person placed plastic tubing on their cords which I think is a good idea. They gnaw on cords and get shocked and ruin the cord.
WOOL MITES: Angora Rabbits get wool mites that affect the coat and skin causing dandruff and loosening of the fiber which makes it webbed and can sometimes cause breakdown of the skin. About 4cc of Ivormectin (cattle & swine) per 5 pounds of rabbit either orally or injected will get rid of these. I recommend doing this every 6 months as a preventative measure. Dealing with the wool mites also helps much with keeping their coat in good health and easier to groom. These do not affect people just the rabbits.
SHELTER: Winter – Rabbits will need protection from the wind and rain. They can take cold temperatures, but will need to be provided with unfrozen water.
Summer – Hot weather is very hard on Angoras. We have them in an outbuilding with fans blowing on them and good ventilation and air circulation. If they are outside it will help to clip them down in June or July. Give the rabbit a damp towel to lie on and frozen liter pop bottles full of water to lie against. If it gets over 100 degrees in the rabbit area move them to a cooler place or the rabbit may die from excessive heat. Or set up a mister. This last summer I had the mister on day and night for weeks. Never allow them to be in direct sunlight.
LITTER TRAINING: I have heard great success stories of litter trained rabbits. 1) Place the rabbit in its cage in the spot you want it to use the litter box. Leave it there for 2 or 3 days without taking the rabbit out so it will establish a potty corner. 2) Begin taking rabbit out for 10-15 minutes and then return it back to its cage to use the corner. 3) Leave the cage door open but return the rabbit periodically to use the corner. 4) Place litter box over the corner it uses. 5) When you're sure the rabbit uses the litter box consistently remove the cage and leave the litter box in the same spot. If the rabbit uses any other spot, spray with strong deodorant.
LENGTH OF WOOL: When the wool is long you will need to either clip it off with scissors (be careful, it's easy to nick them) or "pluck" the wool off. This is when you tug the longest wool off with your fingers. When the wool is ready, it will be loose and this will not hurt the rabbit.
LITERATURE: There are several sources of information on Angora rabbits. There is a link to an excellent Angora rabbit care manual on-line with much useful information developed by Lil Peck at . There are also other links to rabbit breeder organizations. If you join any of them you will receive their publications in the mail. When joining the American Rabbit Breeders Assoc., they send a bi-monthly magazine and other helpful items.
RABBIT SHOWS: I recommend joining a local rabbit club which will automatically make you a member of your state Rabbit Breeders Association and you will receive their publication. Rabbit show flyers will also be sent to you to inform you of the dates and locations of ARBA sponsored shows. When your rabbit places you will earn points and also the results are published. Shows are a lot of fun and very educational as you listen to the comments of the judges and talk to other rabbit breeders.
FLY STRIKE (Flesh Flies) – This kind of fly shows up in the summer (I start checking in April) that can rapidly kill a rabbit. The fly retains their eggs and lays live larva directly into the flesh. They are drawn by poop and will attack in the backside of the rabbit. Keep wool around the tail short and clean and keep checking for any signs. It is hard to tell sometimes because of the wool but they will kill the rabbit within 2-3 days if allowed. If I find any that have started, I remove any larva that I can, give them Ivermec, and spray the area with both wound spray and insecticide (I know- not generally healthy but may save their lives).