The fur is really flying around our apartment today! I had planned on just cleaning Barnaby's cage really quick...but one look at his shaggy coat and I knew it was time to break out the brush. As the pile of fur next to us got larger and larger, I started to wonder if non-bunny owners know about the event that is seasonal bunny shedding? For anyone considering buying a rabbit (or hopefully adopting one!), I think the amount they shed should be something you take into consideration. My 2.2 lb bunny sheds more than my 20 lb dog!
Easter is right around the corner, and it's always kind of a bitter sweet holiday for me. Sweet because it means it's spring time, my favorite time of the year! But bitter because Easter time is such a hard time of the year for anyone involved in rabbit rescue. About a month or so before Easter I start seeing a huge increase in adds for rabbits for sale, and I always wonder how many of those adorable baby bunnies are going to make it to see their first birthdays? Or how many of them will spend years alone, wasting away in small backyard hutches?
Rabbits can be such misunderstood pets. Don't get me wrong, I am not saying they make bad pets. For the right people, bunnies can make amazing companions. But they are not low maintenance pets, and should never be given as gifts to a child, or even to an adult who may be unprepared to care for them.
Around this time of year I always start seeing flyers on Facebook and other websites promoting giving chocolate or stuffed bunnies rather than real ones as Easter gifts. Some of them point out factors such as rabbits' life spans, which is (on average) between 10 - 12 years for a well cared for companion rabbit. Some of them mention the fact that rabbits can be just as expensive (sometimes more so) as cats or dogs, especially when they need to visit the veterinarian. Yet others point out that, despite how adorable they look, rabbits don't usually enjoy being picked up or held. But so far I haven't seen any that mention the fact that even the smallest of bunnies can, and will, have your nice clean clothing covered in rabbit hair on a regular basis.
So this post turned into somewhat of a rant I suppose, but to get back on topic - Some rabbits experience times of heavy shedding, or molting, around 3 - 4 times per year. This is what happens with my rabbit Barnaby. He seems to molt mainly when the temperatures outside begin to change. However, other rabbits seem to lose smaller amounts of fur year round rather than molting all at once a few times a year.
Molting, in the fashion that Barnaby does it, can last weeks. It really is surprising how much fur can come off even small rabbits during a molt! It's important, when your rabbit is shedding, to keep them well groomed. Rabbits lick themselves clean like cats do, however unlike cats they lack the ability to throw up. Rabbits have very sensitive digestive systems and too much ingested fur can sometimes lead to GI Stasis, an uncomfortable and sometimes deadly condition. Barnaby doesn't really enjoy being groomed, but he looks so cute afterwards, and I feel better knowing that he won't be swallowing all that loose fur!
Rabbits can make amazing pets, but potential owners should consider possible cons to owning them - including how much they shed. Fur stuck to my clothing and flying around in the air in my apartment aren't things that really bother me, but I know not everyone feels the same way. Even some animal lovers don't like the prospect of being covered in fur, and I don't think everyone realizes just how much fur rabbits can shed!
If you liked this post, check out some of my past bunny themed blog posts...