It is most frustrating to the exhibitor to find that a rabbit with a beautiful show coat has decided to chew on the coat. Usually, the rabbit limits its chewing to the area around the shoulders, but in some cases, the rabbit carefully clips off the outer tips of the entire coat. Everyone seems to have their own theory as to what causes wool or fur chewing.
I have noticed that episodes of wool chewing occur most often right after a cold snap. If the temperature in the rabbitry in the wintertime is about 20 degrees for a week, then drops suddenly to below zero, I will find some rabbits with chewed coats the next morning. In the summertime, if we are having temperatures in the 80’s, then suddenly the temperatures drop to the 50’s at night, some of the rabbits may begin wool chewing. Overall, I find instances of wool chewing in the summertime to be very rare.
Some people theorize that wool chewing is caused by a lack of protein. I doubt this, based on the diet my own rabbits receive. Some folks say the rabbits need more fiber in their diets. Well, it does no harm to offer the rabbits a little hay. Just stick the hay in between the cage door and the cage, or put it into a hay rack. Don’t leave it in the cage with the Angora, or it will make a mess of the coat.
Some folks say the rabbits need toys to chew on or play with. Fine, you can give them toys or something safe and nontoxic to chew.
I do think they are more inclined to chew their wool when they feel itchy, as when wool mite infestation is there, but too microscopic for us to detect. I usually give my own Angoras Ivomec once every 4-6 weeks, to prevent this. I am not recommending this practice to other Angora fanciers–I am simply telling you what I do.
In some severe cases, I think wool chewing becomes an obsessive-compulsive disorder. I have no idea whether anyone has successfully treated wool chewing with Prozac! (That’s a joke!)
If the wool-chewer is a doe, is she housed next to a buck? Sometimes, if the buck next door is spraying at his lady friend, she will chew off the parts of the coat that have urine on them. The answer is simple–put a solid barrier between or move them further apart.
My advice would be, if your Angora chews its wool–see if it has wool mites. If not, offer it plenty of clean, quality hay or straw to chew, and maybe offer it a toilet paper roll center to play with. Otherwise, just keep right on blowing out and grooming that coat. Sometimes, the rabbit will suddenly stop chewing and if you have kept the coat in good condition, he is ready to win for you.