Rabbits furiously shedding locks of fur may look shocking, but don’t panic! There’s meaning behind the apparent rabbit madness. From false pregnancies to building cozy nests, your bunny’s reasons for fur plucking may be completely natural. Or this hair-raising habit could signal something amiss, like a restless rabbit seeking stimulation. Dominant rabbits may even barber their bonded mates to establish who’s boss. But fear not, fretful owner, solutions are here! We’ll explore the perplexing science behind this common rabbit behavior and how to peacefully resolve the fur-flying with some nurturing and neutering. Read on to learn the secrets of rabbit fur pulling demystified!
Rabbits groom themselves regularly by licking and scratching to keep their coats clean and free of debris. However, sometimes rabbits engage in excessive grooming behaviors like plucking out their own fur. There are a few possible reasons why a rabbit may pull out its fur.
Rabbit is Barbering
One common reason is a behavior called "barbering," where the rabbit grooms its companion excessively by plucking out fur. There are a few possible causes for barbering behavior:
Bored or Stressed
Rabbits are highly intelligent, social animals that need mental stimulation and exercise. A bored, lonely or stressed rabbit may barber its companion as a way to pass the time and relieve anxiety. Make sure your rabbit has plenty of toys, exercises outside its cage daily, and gets affection and playtime with you. Spaying or neutering can also reduce stress hormones that cause destructive behaviors like barbering.
Too Much Fur
Rabbits shed their coat twice a year in the spring and fall. During heavy shedding periods, the loose hair may become very irritating. A rabbit may try to help out a molting companion by removing some of this excess fur through barbering. Brushing your rabbit regularly can help remove loose hairs and make excessive grooming less tempting.
Sometimes rabbits barber when a companion has skin irritation from allergies, fleas, mites or other medical issues. A vet exam can identify and treat any underlying skin problems. Clean the rabbit's environment thoroughly to remove anything causing skin discomfort.
So in summary, barbering behavior most often indicates an underlying issue like boredom, stress or skin irritation. Address the root cause to stop the excessive grooming. Provide mental stimulation, schedule playtime, neuter the rabbits, brush them and have a vet check for skin conditions to discourage the behavior.
Rabbit Building Nest with Her Fur
Another reason a domestic rabbit may pull out her own fur is to build a nest in preparation for giving birth. In the wild, pregnant female rabbits called does begin to pluck fur from their dewlaps, bellies and chests as their due date approaches. They use this fur to insulate and line their nests just before kindling.
Even spayed domestic rabbits may still exhibit this natural maternal nesting instinct when ovulating. The hormones of an unspayed doe can cause false pregnancies that prompt the nesting behavior. While distressing for owners to witness, this fur plucking is not harmful as long as the rabbit does not bald any areas.
You can provide nesting materials like timothy hay and shred paper for your rabbit to satisfy her drive to build without plucking herself. Place plush blankets or rugs in her cage so she can dig and burrow to make a cozy nest. Extra attention and affection also helps calm a restless rabbit prone to fur pulling.
Soon after the hormone surge passes, the excessive fur plucking should stop. If it continues longer than a week or two or leads to bald patches, a vet visit is recommended to rule out other health issues. Spaying female domestic rabbits prevents the false pregnancies that trigger nesting behavior and fur loss.
So in summary, rabbits may naturally pluck their own fur when preparing to give birth or having a false pregnancy. Providing alternative nesting material and extra comfort along with spaying helps prevent excessive, baldness-causing fur loss from this hormonal behavior.
Rabbit Pulling Fur Out of Another Rabbit
In cases where one rabbit is pulling fur out of another, the behavior could be normal social grooming or aggression between bonded rabbits or mates.
My Female Rabbit is Pulling Fur Out of a Male
When a spayed female rabbit pulls fur from a male companion's genitals, face or tail, this is often a display of dominance. The male may be mounting the female frequently or chasing her, so she returns the behavior to show she's boss. Unless serious wounds or fighting occur, this hierarchy establishment is normal.
Provide loads of space, hideaways, toys and litter boxes so each rabbit has their own areas. Neuter the male to reduce hormone-driven behaviors like frequent mounting. Give them positive activities like treat puzzles that redirect energy away from fur pulling.
My Male Rabbit is Pulling Fur Out of a Female
An unneutered male may pull fur from the female's neck, dewlap or back when she resists his advances. This neck fur plucking is mating behavior. When the female rabbit is not receptive, the male may chase and try to forcibly mate by grabbing her in his teeth. He will then pluck fur from the scruff to mimic natural breeding.
The solution is to neuter the male rabbit to eliminate this hormonal behavior. Separate the pair until this can be arranged if the fur pulling is frequent or injurious. Provide hideouts the female can retreat to for safety. Allow the rabbits short, supervised sessions together while re-bonding post-neutering.
So in situations between mated rabbits, fur pulling indicates hormones triggering mating or dominance displays. Neutering, separation and proper re-bonding allows safe cohabitation without painful fur loss. Monitor pairs for mounting, chasing and neck fur grabbing to catch problems early. Intervene before the behavior escalates to dangerous brawls.
In summary, domestic rabbits may pull their own fur out when nesting, or pluck fur from a companion's body as mating or social behavior. Barred fur indicates boredom, stress or skin irritation. Building a nest with plucked fur is natural but can be excessive during false pregnancies. Pulling fur from mates establishes hierarchy and mimics breeding. Address the root causes to prevent fur loss that bald spots, wounds or creates aggression between rabbits. With proper care, supervision, housing and neutering, rabbits can live together without excessive, harmful fur plucking.