From the velvety, short-haired rex to the fluffy, long-haired angora, rabbit fur can come in a variety of lengths, textures and styles. Regardless of fur type, all bunnies are susceptible to periodic hair loss. Understanding the underlying causes of your rabbit’s hair loss can help you identify appropriate treatment options to help correct the problem if needed.
Shedding and Molting
The most common cause of rabbit hair loss is shedding. While some rabbits shed every three to four months, other rabbits shed throughout the year. During the molting cycles, a rabbit may lose large clumps of fur at a time, making his coat appear patchy and uneven. The House Rabbit Society recommends owners brush their rabbits several times a day during the shedding process to help remove loose fur. Regular brushing, especially during shedding, decreases the likelihood that a rabbit will ingest loose fur and develop a dangerous intestinal blockage.
Certain health conditions can cause a bunny’s fur to remain saturated and wet, which can lead to hair loss. Rabbits experiencing dental problems, such as abscessed molars or molar spurs, will drool heavily. As the saliva saturates the chin, it causes the fur to fall out. Similarly, urinary tract disorders that cause continually urine leakage can also lead to hair loss around a bunny’s hind legs, tail and feet. If your rabbit is showing signs of hair loss in these areas, contact your veterinarian to discuss treatment options.
Parasites and Infections
Bunnies are susceptible to a variety of parasites that, if left untreated, can contribute to hair loss. Ringworm, a fungal infection causing crusty skin and red lesions, can lead to hair loss around the nose, mouth and feet. Mite infestations also lead to hair loss. Ear mites can cause an extremely painful condition called ear canker, which can lead to hair loss on a rabbit’s ears. Fur mites can cause large patches of hair loss anywhere on a bunny. Veterinarians can prescribe topical creams and oral antibiotics to treat these conditions.
It is not uncommon for rabbits to pull out their own hair. A pregnant female rabbit about to give birth will pull hair from her chest, belly and sides to build a nest for her babies. Furthermore, an unaltered female rabbit may experience a false pregnancy and begin pulling out its fur and building a nest despite not being pregnant. Other causes for intentional fur pulling include boredom and or overgrooming.