If you have a pet rabbit, you will know how much it takes for these beautiful creatures to bond with their owners. They are typically very timid and take a good amount of time to trust anyone. Because of this, you’ll have a deep connection with your bunny so when you notice that he or she appears to be in distress, this can be very upsetting.
Rabbits may pull out their fur and when you see this happening, it can be incredibly alarming. In some cases, it’s nothing to worry about whereas other times, you may need to take action.
Rabbits will pull out their fur when they are nesting so if your doe is pregnant then this could be why she is doing this to herself. However, rabbits may also pull out their fur due to things like skin irritations, boredom, and stress.
It’s important to get to the bottom of why it could be that you’ve noticed your rabbit pulling out fur as this will allow you to tend to the issue. In this guide, we will be looking at some common reasons and what you can do about it.
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Why Is My Rabbit Pulling Its Fur Out?
Anything unusual in terms of your rabbit’s behavior can be very worrying so if you’ve been asking yourself why is my rabbit pulling her fur out, we understand how stressed you may be feeling about this.
Fortunately, there are some reasons for this behavior that don’t warrant any concern. For example, rabbits are incredibly clean animals who will groom themselves to within an inch of their lives if they have to. This can involve tugging out fur.
However, while rabbits do clean themselves a lot, it shouldn’t be excessive and if you find your bunny spending an alarming amount of time grooming, this could be down to boredom so be sure to provide your bun with plenty of things to do such as toys and lots of out of the cage time.
Furthermore, rabbit owners should always consider adopting two rabbits together as opposed to a single bun. Many pet stores won’t sell lone rabbits and expect customers to take on two. This is because rabbits are very social animals and need to have company to avoid becoming bored or even depressed. It’s quite possible for a rabbit to die from loneliness but if you are considering adding a new bunny into the mix, you should do so with caution.
When rabbits are introduced at a young age, they usually establish a bond very quickly. They may fight a little to figure out who’s boss but this is normally short lived. However, when you pair older rabbits, there may be more teething problems so it’s vital that you keep an eye on your pets and separate them if they become overly aggressive.
Once rabbits are bonded, they will be friends for life. They’ll do everything together and you’ll notice that the submissive rabbit follows the dominant bunny around for most of the time. However, that doesn’t mean that your bunnies should be cramped up in a cage all day as this can lead to stress which could result in fur pulling. It’s still vitally important that the pair has a good amount of exercise time each day.
Another reason why rabbits might over groom themselves is because they have too much fur. You’ll normally see this in breeds that are long haired which can get pretty miserable when the weather gets warm. Your rabbit will shed but it’s sometimes not quick enough to her liking so she may begin helping the process along. You can limit how much hair she pulls out by dedicating the time to additional brushing each day.
Here’s a helpful article about safely bathing and brushing your bunny.
Finally, if you notice that your rabbit has groomed itself down to the skin, it is worth booking an appointment to see your vet. This is because bunnies have very delicate skin that is easily broken. If your pet nibbles too hard, she could cut herself and this could quite easily become infected.
Problems With Skin Conditions
If stress or too much fur isn’t a problem, it could be that your rabbit is pulling out its fur because of some kind of irritation to its skin. There could be a number of problems here so it’s down to you, as the owner, to investigate.
One of the most common problems is an infestation of fleas. This can cause great irritation and discomfort for your bunny and should be dealt with as soon as possible. This is even more important if there are other animals in your home as the problem can quickly spread.
Some rabbits are very sensitive to flea bites and this can make the problem even worse putting great stress onto the animal. This stress can then lead to overgrooming, as we discussed earlier which will result in further problems.
Mites and ticks are also an issue for rabbits. Not only will these cause skin problems but there is also a possibility that things could get much worse. Some of these parasites carry diseases and when they bite your rabbit, these diseases spread. It’s simply not worth your rabbit’s life to ignore the problem so act quickly and contact your vet or pick up a treatment as soon as possible.
Where skin irritation is concerned, you should also check your rabbit for wounds, abscesses, or injuries. If your pet is in pain, he or she may bite and nibble at the area, pulling out fur in the process.
If you have a female rabbit then it’s super important to check that she isn’t pregnant as this is one of the leading reasons that does pull out fur. However, you should also keep in mind that it is possible for a rabbit to experience a phantom pregnancy. So, even if there are no bucks present, she may still display similar symptoms.
If a rabbit is experiencing a false pregnancy then she will likely pull out fur for nesting at the end of this. You might not have noticed any symptoms before although there are some common ones like becoming more aggressive and eating more than usual. The key giveaway that it is a phantom pregnancy is that the time span will be much shorter. Where a regular rabbit pregnancy lasts around four weeks, a false one will typically not last much longer than two weeks.
Many rabbit owners believe that their female cannot have a false pregnancy if she has been spayed, but this is not the case. While it is far less likely in spayed females, phantom pregnancies do still occur.
Normally, this will be because of one of two reasons. Firstly, a rabbit that is very stressed may be forced into ovulation. When this happens, she may experience a phantom pregnancy. However, it could also be caused if the female is mounted by a male. While it won’t be possible for her to actually become pregnant, she may have a psychological response to this that brings on pregnancy symptoms.
Rabbits that are indeed pregnant will also likely display fur pulling behaviors as this is one of the materials they use to create a nest. It’s quite normal and something that wild rabbits do so you shouldn’t worry too much. Unless, of course, your rabbit pulls out so much fur that she reveals her skin.
Check out this guide for more information about rabbit pregnancies, nesting, and fur pulling.
Consider Your Rabbit’s Diet
One of the things that is often pushed on rabbit owners is the importance of providing the animal with a suitable diet. And there’s a good reason for this; rabbits have a sensitive digestive system that needs just the right balance to thrive. Much of this is fiber but rabbits also need other nutrients such as protein.
If you have ever noticed your rabbit chewing fur off its leg then this could be a sign of a dietary imbalance. When rabbits do not get enough protein, they can often be found gnawing away at their hind legs and in the worst cases, they will chew them bare.
To counteract the problem, you will need to adjust your bunny’s diet to have more protein. If you are at all unsure of what to offer your pet, speak to your vet who will be able to give you the most tailored advice.
Rabbits might seem like pretty simple pets but these are incredibly complex animals that require a very specific and detailed level of care. Owners should always be on the lookout for unusual behaviors that might suggest problems with the animal.
One thing that a lot of owners notice is their rabbit pulling out fur. In some cases, this is very normal; for example, if the rabbit is pregnant and nesting. However, in other cases, it could be a sign of something more worrying such as stress, a wound, or even an infestation of parasites.
In any case, you should investigate to determine if your rabbit needs treatment and act accordingly. Don’t ever leave it to chance in the belief that the behavior may stop as by then, it could be too late.