Rabbits

Why is my rabbit pulling out her fur?

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Rabbits might be small but they pack a lot of fluff onto those tiny bodies! It can be alarming when you check on your rabbit and find fur all over the place.  What can cause your rabbit to suddenly pull out fur and when should you seek veterinary care for this?

Pregnancy/False Pregnancy

A common reason for fur pulling is the instinct to make a nest.  When a rabbit is preparing for kits, her body secretes hormones that cause the fur on her sides & belly to loosen.  This makes it easier for her to pull the fur out and pile it in a nest.  It should cause her little pain and the skin should not look raw or red.  She will often also gather hay, leaves or other bedding materials to help line her nest. When a doe makes her nest, she is generally towards the end of her 31 day pregnancy and will likely give birth within a few days.

Unspayed females who live with no other rabbits or only other females or neutered males can experience false pregnancies.  This can be a common occurrence with some rabbits and the only way to stop it is to get your rabbit spayed.  False pregnancies are not dangerous, but getting your rabbit spayed can also reduce the risk of some reproductive cancers so if you have no plans to breed your rabbits, it is a good idea.

During a false pregnancy, your rabbit will build a nest and often her mammary glands will swell.  The symptoms should only last a few days before she returns to normal behaviors.

Boredom/Stress

If your rabbit is left alone in her cage for most of the day she is likely to be both bored and stressed out.  Rabbits need time and space to run, jump, dig and just be a rabbit.  Stressed out and stuck in a tiny space with nothing to do, she could start pulling her fur out just for something to do.  Try to give her more time out of her cage and providing her with toys or boxes to play in (click here for ideas on playing with your rabbit).

Grooming Issues

If your rabbit is pulling fur in patches it could be a sign that you are not grooming her enough.  Especially with long haired rabbits, when they go through their shedding periods if you don’t remove the fur well enough, they will start doing it themselves.  Give your bunny a good brushing and hopefully the fur pulling will stop.  You don’t want them pulling out their own fur because not only could they injure their delicate skin, but they are also likely to ingest some fur which could become lodged in their digestive tract (Click here to read about GI Stasis in rabbits).

Parasites/Skin Issues

Check your rabbit’s skin by parting the fur to closely examine her skin.  Mites, lice and fleas can all effect rabbits and could make her very itchy causing her to scratch off her fur.  Rabbits have their own species of fleas (Spilopsyllus cuniculi), but can also catch the same fleas that live on your cats or dogs.  Thankfully, external parasites on rabbits are not common, but if your rabbit has them it is best to consult a veterinarian for treatment.  You should NOT use topical flea medicine meant for cats and dogs on your rabbit, it could have deadly results!

Dietary Imbalance

Rabbits need a diet high in fiber.  If they don’t get enough fiber in their diet, they sometimes will look to their own fur as a fiber source.  Your rabbit should be eating a handful of fresh Timothy hay about the size of her body each day, as well as quality rabbit pellets and fresh greens.  (click here for information on feeding wool rabbits)

When should you seek medical care?

Fur pulling can be distressing, but often by observing your rabbit can you determine the cause and hopefully remedy it.  If your rabbit has raw, bleeding patches of skin a vet can prescribe medications to keep it from getting infected.   If there are no obvious causes for your rabbit’s fur pulling or if it has been going on for a couple weeks it would be a good idea to consult with your veterinarian.

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17 Comments

  1. Amber Oakes says:

    Good morning!!! I’m looking for help! I have a 6-8 mo old female mini lop eared. I also have a 6-8 mo old male lop. I have let them mate 3 times. Being a new bunny owner I’m always looking for tips and help when I have a? I woke up this morning and noticed she has pulled some fur out! I know this can be a sign of pregnancy but she doesn’t “look “pregnant!?!? Any way to send or text u a pic and maybe u could just give me an honest opinion? That way u can see here and the amount of fur. Hope to hear from you soon!!!

    1. Hi Amber, I don’t have a ton of experience with pregnant does because I do not breed my bunnies (I only have females). If they have mated three times, it is likely she could be pregnant. It’s hard to tell in the first couple of weeks though. The fur pulling doesn’t happen until near the end. If it’s been two weeks since their mating, you should be able to palpitate the female’s abdomen to see if you can feel babies. In the spring, fur pulling can be common though as they shed their winter coats. Good luck!

    2. Hailey says:

      Hello! I breed New Zealand rabbits, which are a lot bigger than mini lops, but my insight might help a little. Normally, unless they’re carrying a large number of babies, rabbits typically don’t show when they’re pregnant. There are ways to check, but if she’s already pulling hair, normally, that means the doe is already a few days from having the kits. Normal rabbit pregnancies run anywhere from 29 to 33 days, if they go over, there could be something wrong. It is very important to keep track of how long it’s been since she was bred. You can email me with any more questions you might have, I will be happy to answer any questions or relieve any concerns I can.

  2. Hi, I have a 5month French lop, he’s a house bunny, not been outside yet. I only put him in his cage when I got to work or to bed. The last two weeks he digs his cage in the night for a few seconds ?and this morning I found a lot of fur in his cage? I brush him every day and he has not bold patches. Any idea why? Is it to hot or dose he need vitamins because of not going outside.

    1. Digging is a totally normally and instinctual thing rabbits do so it’s not unusual for him to be digging about in his cage. My rabbits especially like to dig through their straw or dig into their blankets to arrange their bed just so before bed. The hair pulling is harder to say. I think the most likely cause is just natural shedding because it sounds like he gets plenty of exercise & stimulation running about. Rabbits go through a shedding period about every 3 months. Some sheds will be light with you just finding tufts of fur here and there, and some of them are heavy and unmistakable. Throughout the year, you should groom your bunny once a week, but during shedding periods you might need to step that up to a few times a week. He will pull the fur out himself, but he could damage his skin or ingest too much of the fur, blocking his GI system, so it’s better if you brush it out

  3. Jane says:

    Hello, I have a 10month old mini lop, she was mated on 8th off May.Today the 17th she has made her nest and is now pulling her fur out to line her nest, but she is not due until 6th or 8th off June. Is this normal?.She has the run off our garden and goes in her cage when she wants to. Thank you

    1. That does seem a little early, but not totally unheard of. She still had a few weeks to go, but she sounds like she likes to be prepared. As a first time mom that is a good sign. Good luck 🙂

  4. Neely says:

    Hi. I have a Holland mini lop that is between 10-12 weeks old. She is pulling her fur out on her side. The top of her body seems like normal fur but the bottom half is nappy. Like knotty. Any ideas? Thank you!

    1. Usually around 4 months a rabbit’s baby coat is shed and replaced with their adult coat. They can look a little ragged while going through the process. If you have checked her for parasites that might be causing her to pull her fur out, my guess would be she is just transitioning to her new coat

  5. Kayleigh says:

    Hi I have a 7 month mini lop who has made two nests of fur within the last month she is not pregnant but does live with her 7 month sister any idea why ????

    1. You are sure they are both girls correct? I know my bunnies have been pulling out fur lately with the weather getting warmer, but not a ton and they aren’t building nests with them. She could just be going through her first “fake pregnancy”. Hopefully it’s just a fake one and her sister doesn’t turn out to be a brother 🙂

      1. Hello,I have a pregnant doe whose on her 30th day and she hasn’t pulled fur and she only made next on day 28 . I feel she’s supposed to have pulled fur , or its okay. She’s still on her 30th day.

        1. Is it possible your dates are off? I am surprised she hasn’t pulled fur and started really nesting in being so close to delivery? Is it her first litter? I would brush her and get some extra fur off her, then start a little nest for her with her fur & some hay and hopefully her instincts will kick in once she sees the nest

  6. Shriyut says:

    Hello, please help me I’m quite desperate. My male rabbit pulled his hair out from under his chin. He’s done it before and it’s not been a problem then, but this time he pulled too much and i think its gotten him sick. He barely eats once a day and doesn’t show the affection that he used to. I have no clue what to do. Covid has closed off all the vets so it’s impossible to show him to a doctor. Any help would be appreciated!

    1. If your rabbit has ingested a lot of fur and it is blocking up his digestive system that is a medical emergency. If he isn’t eating, that is a big red flag of GI Stasis (click here to read more about this: https://thecapecoop.com/gi-stasis-what-every-rabbit-owner-needs-to-know/). Is he pooping still? In that link provided there are some instructions for correcting mild stasis, but be very careful here. This could be fatal if you can’t get his system moving again. Papaya tablets (can be found at health food store) and chunks of pineapple are helpful. Lots and lots of hay and water will help sweep out the gi system. Oxbow makes a critical care food (powder you mix with water, you can find this at pet stores) that might be helpful also. Good luck, I hope he is feeling better soon!

  7. Ho there. I bought female rabbit (12 weeks old) and I noticed she pulling her fur off and she is trying to eat. I have took from her mouth bowl of her fur.
    I didnt see any problem with skin.
    She has plenty of hey some pallets and fresh water and also lots of chewing wooden toys.
    What could cause that ?
    How I can make her stop doing that ?
    Thank you

    1. It is possibly stress related from the move from her first home & siblings. If she is still doing it 3-4 weeks after you have brought her home, you might want to have her seen by a vet. In the meantime try to keep her area as calm & quiet as possible. Keep larger animals (like dogs or cats) away from her, give her plenty of hay and water, a nice cozy dark place to retreat to, and when you interact with her keep your voice quiet and calm. I would suggest you not pick her up too much, being off the ground can be stressful to many rabbits. Instead let her run about the floor while you sit quietly on the floor with her. Let her come to you and pet her on her terms while you two are getting used to each other 🙂

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