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I’m not fastidious about brushing my rabbits often BUT I make sure to groom their coats often, even if only by hand, and, crucially, both of my rabbits are short haired. (Short furred?)
I get how cute long-haired rabbit can look, especially super fancy ones like Angora, but before you commit to a rabbit that you’ll need to brush regularly, be honest with yourself. Are you prepared to spend hours grooming your rabbit? Especially considering that your rabbit may not WANT to be groomed.
How often to brush your rabbit
This depends very much of the type of fur your rabbit has and whether or not it’s moulting.
If you have a long haired or fancy breed, you may need to, if not actually brush, then definitely check your rabbit over on a weekly basis. I’d put an hour aside once a week to spend grooming your rabbit, so you don’t forget. If it only takes five minutes, congratulations, you have 55 minutes free to watch Netflix. If it takes an hour, no matter, you scheduled the time.
For those of us with short-haired rabbit, a monthly brushing session is usually more than enough. Some rabbits never really need to be groomed. They may be fastidious about cleaning themselves, or have a partner to do it for them.
Do all rabbits need to be brushed?
No. If you don’t want to devote any time to grooming, then there are fur types that don’t reauire any brushing at all.
I would consider getting one of these types purely because I’m lazy (I’d never choose an Angora, though if I somehow ended up with one, I’d obvs care for it properly), but if you have allergies and tend to sneeze around loose fur, then consider a no-brush breed.
I don’t have a bad fur allergy, but rabbit fur is so so fine it can float around and make my nose tickly, so I imagine it’s a nightmare for those of you with sensitive noses.
Get a rex. Their fur grows differently to ‘regular’ rabbits, because the guards hairs are shorter than the undercoat. The bit you can touch is the undercoat, and it’s sooooooo soft. It’s more like velvet than hair.
Rex rabbits still shed their guard hairs, but because it’s underneath their undercoat, it comes out in little clumps that you can gently pull out rather than having to bother with a brush.
If you do think your rex needs grooming, then a cloth is usually more gentle on their fur than a brush.
Which rabbit breeds need to be brushed every day?
Angora rabbits can need brushing everyday, but you can usually get away with leaving it to every three days.
Angora rabbits only need brushing this often when they’re moulting BUT they can moult every couple of months.
The most important thing for those of you with fancy fur rabbits is to keep them on your side. Build a bond with them so they they don’t fight you when your grooming them. Fuss them, treat them, do whatever it takes to help them enjoy being groomed, otherwise you’ll both be miserable.
Why it’s important to brush bunnies regularly
As with most things rabbit-related, grooming your rabbit can help them stay clear from digestive issues.
Rabbits groom themselves by licking their fur, and if they end up ingesting too much, it can cause blockages and stasis.
By removing as much loose hair as you can, you can reduce the chance of that happening.
As well as the health perspective, there’s a social aspect to grooming. Grooming CAN be a good time for you to bond with your rabbit and build up a bond BUT a lot of rabbits don’t like being brushed.
If your rabbit hates being brushed, don’t force it – instead just use your hands. If you dampen your hands beforehand, you can remove a lot of loose hair just by stroking your rabbit.
If you see tufts that need removing, try to avoid plucking until your rabbit is more comfortable with you, since they don’t usually like it.
What to do if you see fur in your rabbit’s poop
Sometimes your rabbit might produce a string of poops held together by fur. This in itself isn’t a cause for concern, BUT definitely keep a close eye on your rabbit’s eating and pooping, because it’s a sign your rabbit has been eating a lot of fur.
Be sure to give them a brush to try to reduce the amount of loose fur.
How to brush your rabbit
I wouldn’t introduce an actual brush until you and your rabbit are on pretty good terms.
Some rabbit like being brushed and fussed over, but most don’t though I’ve never had one that totally refused to tolerate being brushed.
I’ve tried one of those grooming gloves, but I have weirdly small hands, and I couldn’t wield it very well. I will brush my rabbits if they’re looking particularly tufty, but I prefer to just use my hands. I start by massaging their head, then work my way down their back.
If they spook (common if your rabbit is new) just let them leave. You could also try associating a food with grooming, so for example you could give them a big pile of coriander (cilantro) and groom them whilst they’re eating it.
Which brush is best to use on rabbits?
Honestly, I 100% think this depends on your rabbit. There’s no point getting a really effective brush if your rabbit hates it.
My favourite brush is a cheap pet brush that has wire bristles with little balls on the end. It’s pretty good at removing fur, but not amazing BUT my rabbits quite like the way it feels, so they’ll sit still for longer and don’t run away at the site of it.
A lot of people swear by furminators, but they look a bit…aggressive to me, so I’ll just stick to my cheap brush.
You’re better off committing to grooming your rabbit regularly with a regular brush than buying a fancy brush once you notice your rabbit needs grooming.
One issue I’ve found with pet brushes is how big they are. I have a Zoom broom (don’t recommend) that’s great for removing fur but is so big that it doesn’t fit the shape of the rabbits.
We used to have a German lop that needed grooming a lot because her fur was super fine and matted easily. She also refused to groom herself (joke’s on her – she refused to keep her butt clean so we had to cut pellets out pretty much completely) so when her mate died we had to take on full responsibility.
Luckily, she loved being groomed.
The most effective thing for her super fine fur was a regular, cheap-ass comb for people. She had a butt skirt, and I’d comb it every couple of weeks to keep it matt-free and it worked a treat.
How to remove excess fur if your rabbit hates to be brushed
Rubber gloves work IF your rabbit isn’t freaked out by you descending on them with neon yellow hands.
Other than that, you’ll just have to use your fingers whilst your petting them. Just integrate a bit of fur removal into your regular petting routine.
As I mentioned before, many rabbits don’t like having their fur plucked, even though we only pluck the little tufts of loose fur that pop up. I don’t know why they don’t like it – the fur has already been ousted from their skin, so it’s not like it hurts, but I suppose I’m not a rabbit, so I wouldn’t understand.
So rather than plucking, try massaging around the area of loose fur, and then comb your finger through it and hope it comes out.
People that show rabbits swear by brushing them from tail to nose, against the grain, and that can be a good way to loosen fur BUT it is a weird sensation to rabbits and some of them really don’t like it the first time you do it.
It’s actually quite funny – it’s obvs a weird feeling rather than a painful one because they don’t run away – they just look at you like you’ve just done something that’s against the rules.
Kind of like someone touching your feet – it doesn’t hurt; and it might actually feel nice, but it’s WEIRD.