Rabbits often have beautiful coats, but their fur can easily become matted messes. Mats, or tangled fur, occur when a rabbit is shedding but isn't being regularly groomed. Failure to brush all layers of a rabbit's fur can result in matting, too.
Things You'll Need
- Mat rake
- Wide-tooth comb
Wire slicker brush
Find a Grooming Space
Prepare for your rabbit to fight you, or at least to try to break free from your grasp, when it is time to groom him. Once your rabbit becomes accustomed to the grooming, he will likely be much more cooperative. Find a higher space -- a kitchen counter or a dining room table, for example -- so you have an easier time grooming his entire body. Place a towel on the surface so he does not slip and fall. If you don't feel comfortable with your rabbit high off the ground, place a towel on the floor and position your rabbit between your knees.
Brush Your Rabbit
Start by brushing your hands through your rabbit's fur to find mats. Mats can develop anywhere on a rabbit's coat. Mats are particularly common during shedding season. Your rabbit's fur may become matted anywhere on his body. However, some areas are more susceptible than others:
- The bottoms of the feet
- The chin
- The rear end
- The stomach
- The tail
You must comb each layer of a long-haired rabbit's fur, or the undercoat fur will become matted.
Untangle the Mats
Now that you've identified the problem areas:
- Locate and separate each mat, one by one, using a wide-tooth comb, working from the ends to the roots.
- Once you untangle each mat, gently tug on the fur to see if the mat falls out.
- If the mat does not fall out, continue combing the fur in the mat. Hold the mat on your hand so the comb does not touch your rabbit's sensitive skin.
- If you are unable to untangle the mats, use a mat rake to remove them, or take your rabbit to a professional groomer. The House Rabbit Society advises against using scissors
to cut out a rabbit's mats because his sensitive skin is prone tocuts.
Mats on the Feet
Your rabbit must have fur on his feet. Do not remove an entire mat if it will leave your rabbit's foot bare. Instead, have a professional trim the mat, leaving a minimum of a quarter-inch of fur on the foot.
If your rabbit is extremely matted, he may require shaving. Consult a professional groomer with rabbit experience. Never use scissors on a rabbit until a professional, such as your rabbit-savvy vet, has shown you how to properly trim your rabbit's fur.
Regularly Groom Your Rabbit
Regularly grooming will help prevent mats. Start grooming each layer of your rabbit's fur using a wide-tooth comb. then use a wire slicker brush to go over the coat again. Brush a short-haired rabbit at least once each week and a long-haired rabbit several times each week.
Regular grooming is essential to ensuring your rabbit's good physical health. Unlike most animals, rabbits cannot vomit -- if they constantly groom themselves, they risk swallowing too much fur and developing a gastrointestinal blockage, which could be fatal.