Jersey Wooly Rabbit – Feeding and Grooming
The digestive system of most rabbits is a lesson in finesse, but with a few considerations, you can protect your bets against common and often dangerous digestive disorders.
Rabbits rely on the good bacteria in their stomachs to aid in the digestion of their food. Frequently changing your diet or adding new foods too quickly can upset this delicate balance and cause serious problems. Add new foods over the course of a week or more. If you want or need to change your brand of food, combine the new with the old in increasing proportions over the same period of time.
Jersey Wooly Feeding Requirements
As a dwarf breed, mature Woolies only need about 1 ounce of food for every pound of weight per day. However, if you have a pregnant or lactating female, or a baby under four months, let them eat as much as they can. This will provide the extra calories and nutrients they need.
House rabbits do very well on food that contains 16-18% protein, at least 16% fiber and 2-3% fat. Take the time to check labels to find a suitable brand, and only buy what will be consumed in four to five weeks. The high moisture content in rabbit food means it can mold and go bad, making your bunny sick.
In addition to a quality food, your bunny’s main diet will consist of a constant supply of fresh water, which rabbits cannot absorb from their food, and a constant supply of Timothy hay. Woolies are more prone to a life-threatening condition known as wool block; an obstruction of hair in the digestive tract. A constant supply of fresh hay helps reduce this possibility and allows for chopping all day.
Special treats can be used to reinforce cooperative training, supplement a daily diet, or simply say “I love you.” Kitchen scraps work great here, but food that’s about to go bad is better for the compost pile than your bunny’s belly. Be sure to remove any pits or seeds.
Don’t feed your bunny lettuce. Lettuce contains lactucarium, which can cause dangerously severe diarrhea. Diarrhea can kill a rabbit. You should also avoid cabbage, kohlrabi, parsnips, potato tops, and tomato leaves.
Jersey Woolies arose as a cross between the Dutch Dwarf and the French Angora. However, the Wooly’s coat has a higher proportion of guard hairs, making it much easier to maintain than the Angora’s, and can still be used as a textile.
Regularly clean their enclosures to keep them free of droppings. This goes a long way in making grooming easier. Urine stains, also called “hutch stains,” are sometimes unavoidable. Some home remedies include lemon juice and water, vinegar and water, or baking soda and water. These solutions should only be used directly on the stains. Never submerge your rabbit in water, as this can cause shock.
Begin your grooming sessions with a high-powered hair dryer set to ‘cool’, or a small, clean vacuum set to ‘blow’. This will remove dirt and dust and fluff up the coat. Use the blower for only short periods to start, giving your bunny treats for his cooperation. Be careful not to blow directly into the ears, eyes, nose, or mouth. Start at the rump and work your way forward along the back and sides.
Using a buffing brush afterwards will remove mats, pluck loose fur, stimulate the skin and add shine to your rabbit’s coat. Slicker brushes come in many sizes and styles. Look for one specifically designed for rabbits. Again, start at the tail. You can turn your bunny over on your lap to make its underside.
As you gently handle your rabbit, check its eyes, ears, and underside for signs of irritation. Also check the nails and teeth, which may grow too long and require trimming. If left untreated, overgrown teeth, known as malocclusion, can cause your rabbit to stop eating.
Maturity and molt
As your Wooly matures, it will go through several molting stages, starting around the eyes, nose, and base of the ears. Some rabbits go completely bald, resulting in what is called a ‘Michigan Hairless’. Shed coats can be blended with other fibers and made into felt or yarn for use in crafts. With Jersey Woolies, you can literally have your bunny and wear it too. New coats usually arrive fairly quickly.