English Angora Rabbit
There are four breeds of angora rabbits recognized by the American Rabbit Breeders Association; the English Angora rabbit is the smallest of these. They mature between 5 and 7.5 pounds.
They grow long, soft wool that should be between 3.5 and 5 inches long. It has fully wooled cheeks that tend to hide the rabbit's eyes. Its fringed ears often curl over at the tip. These furnishings are what really make them look distinctive.
English Angora rabbits come in a wide variety of colors. Since their hair shaft is so long, the color is usually diluted once the rabbit has grown a mature coat. This is why a black Angoras will have a black nose, but all the wool is soft gray.
Since angora rabbits' wool mats easily, it is important that they be in wire cages. Bedding only catches in their wool, creating horrible messes. A wire cage lets droppings fall down below the cage and offers the least amount of problems for the rabbit's coat.
Cages still need to be cleaned frequently, as strands of wool can catch on the wire floor and hold droppings inside the cage. Droppings can mash into the wool, creating stinky messes that attract flies.
Anyone who owns English Angora rabbits had better like to groom their pet. Grooming is essential to keeping your pet happy and healthy. Angora wool mats easily, so to prevent your pet from becoming tied up in their own wool, grooming is required.
Most English Angora breeders will use a blower for grooming. This is like an industrial sized hair dryer, but without the heat. The hose is directed at the rabbit, who sits on a grooming table. The air is able to move mats through the wool to the ends of the hair shafts so they can easily be combed out.
Really bad mats are cut off with scissors. Some angoras are trimmed regularly with scissors instead of plucking out the wool as it naturally molts.
Uses for Angora Wool
Angora wool is very soft and warm. Some say it is seven times warmer than sheep's wool. Angora wool is usually sold to handspinners, who spin it into yarn.
Angora wool doesn't have a lot of memory, like sheep's wool, so usually it is combined with sheep's wool before spinning so the resulting garments won't stretch out of shape. Angora is so warm that arthritis patients in Europe are often written prescriptions for Angora items because it helps alleviate their discomfort.
English Angora rabbits make good pets for people who are willing to do the work required to maintain them. You can't slack off for a week.
Many people who enjoy handspinning will keep one or two angoras as pets that also supplement their spinning fiber supply. Rabbits kept just as pets or as spinning pets should be spayed or neutered for their health and longevity. They eat the same foods as other rabbits, but if they are expected to produce good wool, make sure they have a high protein pellet in their diet.
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