Are you thinking of raising fiber rabbits? We have French Angoras on our homestead. They are cute and fluffy, but serve as purpose as a fiber rabbit. Raising them isn’t difficult, but they do require a few additional steps in their care.
First of all, fiber rabbits are very hairy. Their hair gets long and matted. Daily or biweekly brushing is important to keep matted fur to a minimum. It’s important that when you brush them, you do it as thoroughly as you can to get all the loose hair.
Loose hair not only gets matted on the rabbit, it can clump in their cages, making it hard to clean out. Their poop and pee will get stuck in the matted hair on the cage and create a horrific smell.
Bathing the rabbit isn’t necessary. In some cases, it can be harmful because the rabbit can get too cold when it’s wet. If you need to wash the hair, do it after you have clipped it from the rabbit.
Weekly clipping of their nails is another must. Their nails can get so long and then they get stuck on a wire in the cage and even rip off. Keeping them trimmed up will help avoid that. To clip, simply take an animal nail clipper and just cut the tip off. You don’t want to cut past the quick, or the rabbit can bleed furiously. If you DO happen to cut the quick and hit a blood vessel, hold a dry cloth on the nail for about 2 minutes, applying gentle pressure to stop the bleeding. Applying an herb like plantain or yarrow can also help.
Raising Fiber Rabbits
With fiber rabbits, their primary purpose is fiber. To collect the fiber, you will need to cut it from the rabbit at least once a year. We like to do this in the early summer, to remove the old coat before it gets too hot. To cut the fiber, you will simply take a very sharp scissors and follow along the rabbit’s body line. Don’t cut too close, or you risk cutting the rabbit. Sometimes, it’s helpful to have a second person hold the rabbit and cover their eyes when you are doing this. That will help to calm the rabbit and keep them more still.
Feeding requirements for a fiber rabbit is the same as other rabbits. We feed ours a blend of rabbit food from the feed mill, along with high quality timothy hay. They also get plenty of water. Treats are kept to a minimum and it’s usually a carrot or an apple ½. Too many treats can cause the rabbit’s blood sugar to rise and make them sick.
Toys are necessary as well. They need something to chew on to keep their teeth ground down. Rabbits are also playful creatures. Adding in safe rabbit toys for them to play with can help alleviate boredom. We put in small stuffed animals for them to “mother”. Even our male rabbits, called bucks, play or cuddle with their babies. It’s rather cute, to be honest. And, no, they don’t chew them up. We thought they would at first, but were pleasantly surprised they didn’t.
Fiber rabbits are also very large. They will need some type of resting board to allow their paws to be off the hard wire cage from time to time. Your local animal supply place should sell them. They are a hard plastic that is comfortable for the rabbit to rest, with holes to allow excrement to fall through. If you can’t find the hard plastic, an old scrap of carpet works wonders. We have also put non treated wood in there for them to rest on, but they chewed that up quickly.
As you can see, taking care of fiber rabbits isn’t difficult at all. They are fun, friendly, and can be a great source of yarn for the knitter/crafter in your family.
Have you ever raised fiber rabbits? What breed did you raise?
Heather and her family live on 1/4 of an acre in Northern Indiana where they raise chickens, ducks, turkeys, rabbits and 75-80% of their own garden produce. Join her and their crazy adventures at: