General Rabbit Information

A female rabbit is called a "doe" and a male rabbit is a "buck". Baby rabbits are called "kits". The term "junior" refers to rabbits 3-6 months. Rabbits that are 6 months and older are referred to as "seniors". Rabbit gestation is normally 28-31 days and a doe will begin nesting on or near her due date. The nest is made from her own wool and any other material you may provide. The doe "kindles", giving birth to kits that are blind, deaf and hairless. Fur starts to appear by day 3 and the eyes will open around day 10. At about 2-3 weeks after birth, the babies will begin climbing in and out of the nest and can be weaned from their mother between 4-8 weeks of age, depending on the breed.

Many pet-rabbit owners housebreak their pet to a litter box, but beware! Rabbits loose in the house may chew wood and wiring.

General Angora Care

Angoras require constant access to water and a balanced diet of rabbit pellets and hay. Pellets provide proper nutrition; the hay provides fibre. Treats, such as raspberry leaves and bits of fruit and vegetables can be given in small amounts.

Angoras regularly ingest wool when they groom themselves. This wool accumulates in their stomach and intestines and can cause "wool block." This condition can be deadly, which is why fibre is so important in the diet. Prevention is easier than the cure. The increased roughage helps to move the digestive system. Monitor their pellet droppings: if they become small and irregularly shaped, or are strung together like a pearl necklace, then your rabbit is experiencing the onset of wool block.

All of the Angora breeds require grooming. Juniors, who have finer coats, require more care then seniors. Adults need grooming about once a week. Many tools are available for grooming. A slicker brush, a large-tooth comb, and toenail clippers are essentials. A "blower" is used on show Angoras to blow out the dander and open up their coats, but a blower is not necessary for a pet.

Angoras should be housed in a cage with a wire floor to allow their manure to fall through and not stick to their coats. A climate-controlled environment is perfect for Angoras, but most breeders simply take precautions to prevent heat stroke in the summer and chilling in the winter (if the coat has been removed).

Temperament

Angora rabbits are generally docile: they have been raised for hundreds of years as fibre animals and so are very tolerant of handling and grooming.

Harvesting Wool

"Harvesting" is the removal of the coat. Most Angoras shed their coats every 3-4 months. Regular grooming means that the wool will be clean and free of matts and tangles at harvest time. There are 2 main types of fibre in an Angora coat (there are actually 4 types, but a fuller description cannot be included here): the soft, cottony, somewhat crimped under wool, and the stiffer, more colourful guard hairs.

There are essentially 3 ways of harvesting the fibre: daily combing, clipping with shears or scissors, or plucking the shedding coat. You can tell when your Angora is losing its coat: the dead wool appears lighter on the body and wool will start to shed out onto the cage floor. The harvested fibre should be stored loosely in a lidded box to prevent moth infestation and felting. Raw fibre can be used directly from the rabbit without washing, although some like to card it prior to spinning it into yarns.

Types of Angoras

There are four breeds of Angoras currently recognized by the ARBA (The American Rabbit Breeders Association): the English Angora, French Angora, Giant Angora, and Satin Angora.

The English Angora is the cutest and probably the most docile of the Angora breeds. They are also, unfortunately, the highest maintenance breed because wool covers their faces, ears, legs, and feet, as well as their bodies. Their coats are quite soft due to a lack of guard hair and require very frequent grooming (every day, in some cases). The body is short and compact. When posed, they have the appearance of a fuzzy ball. Junior bucks have a maximum weight of 5½ pounds and junior does have a maximum weight of 6 pounds. A senior buck may not weigh more than 7 pounds and a senior doe may not weigh more than 7½ pounds. English Angoras come in a wide variety of colours.

english_angora_rabbit_pic

French Angoras are the oldest Angora breed and are noticeably different from English Angoras. French Angoras do not have wool furnishings on the head, face, ears or the front feet, just regular fur. The ears can be slightly tufted and the head may have some side trimmings. They should appear to be oval and not round like an English Angora. The wool on the French Angora should have an abundance of guard hair that protrudes above the under wool. The large quantity of guard hair helps keep the coat matt free. There should be a good balance of guard hair vs. under wool and the under wool should be crimped. The wool should be full of life, strong, and fall free. Juniors have a maximum weight of 7½ pounds. Seniors may weigh from 7½ pounds to 10½ pounds. French Angoras come in a wide variety of colours.

french_angora_rabbit_pic

The Giant Angora looks like its name: a very large rabbit with lots of wool. It has a long, oval-shaped body and usually has some head furnishings. It was originally developed from the German Angora. They are currently accepted in white only, but the ARBA is working to develop purebred coloured Giants. The coat type falls between English and French in terms of the under wool to guardhair ratio. Because of their size, Giant Angoras have an "intermediate" classification along with the usual junior and senior classifications. An "intermediate" is a rabbit 6-8 months old. Senior Giants are, therefore, 8-months old or more. The senior buck must weigh at least 9½ pounds. The senior doe must weigh at least 10 pounds.

giant_angora_rabbit_pic

Satin Angoras were created in Ontario, Canada by Leopoldina Meyer and were granted breed status by the ARBA in 1987. They look much like French Angoras, but their coats are quite different: the hair shaft is finer in diameter than the French's and it reflects light to a much greater degree. This reflective quality gives the wool an intense satiny sheen and rich colour. The wool is fine, soft and silky. Satin Angoras have the lowest wool yield of all Angoras, making this fibre more expensive than that of the other breeds. The juniors should not weigh over 6½ pounds. Seniors may weigh from 6½ to 9½ pounds. Satin Angoras come in a wide variety of colours.

German Angoras are the usual breed for the commercial production of Angora fibre and have a very high wool yield. They are not recognized by the ARBA, but they do have their own breed organization: The International Association of German Rabbit Breeders (IAGARB). The only recognized colour is white. Because these rabbits do not molt, harvesting the coat means that the German must be sheared rather than combed or plucked. The rabbit has a cylindrical body that is easy to shear. The coat is said to be matt-resistant and feels soft and cottony. The adults weigh approximately 8½ to 11½ pounds.

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We used the ARBA guidelines for breed characteristics. A complete standard for each breed can be found in ARBA's publication, the Standard of Perfection.