Rabbit Molting Behavior – What’s Normal And How To Deal With It

So your rabbit is molting and acting like a turd hu? A rabbit’s molting behavior can cause you to think something might be wrong with them. 

Let’s go over some things you can do to help make their life and yours a bit easier. 

That is totally normal and a fact of life for rabbits. They often will turn a little grouchy and some lose a little bit of fur while others seem to lose nearly all of it. 

rabbit molting behavior intro image

List of Normal Rabbit Molting Behavior:

  • A slight shift in temperament. (They start to become moody or want to be left alone)
  • They start to eat less than usual. Normally about half of what is normal.
  • The fur will change color. Black rabbits will turn this sunbleached color and blue (gray) rabbits will turn a slight shade of brown as well. It’s not as noticeable on other colors but that is just the dead fur that will soon fall out.
  • Their body temperature tends to rise and causes them to be more susceptible to heat.
  • Fur along their back, neck, and even face become loose and easily falls off. Sometimes in chunks. 
  • Some rabbits may even become very grumpy. 

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What Triggers A Molt

A healthy rabbit will most often start molting in early spring or late fall. They are of course heading their winter coat for the summer and then get thicker fur in the winter. 

The sun turning hot will trigger it and then the daylight lessening will trigger them to go into a massive shed for the winter.

Some blow all their fur while others do it just a bit. 

The Difference Between Domestic Rabbits Sheading Or Molting

There is a difference between rabbit shedding or actually going through the molting process. The rabbit will not show much many of the signs above.

Rabbit molting is a natural process that happens to both domestic rabbits and wild rabbits. The adult rabbit starts the process of shedding its old fur coat and replaces it with a new one. 

When young rabbits shed their baby coat for their adult coat their temperament tends to stay the same and they continue to eat well. The shedding tends to be a lot less in chunks and more like a dog sheds. Leaving singular hairs wherever they go.

Fur Mites Vs Rabbit Molt

I have had several people message me over the years stressing out over a slight balled spot on their rabbit. (typically behind the ears and neck.)

A rabbit that has fur mites will not lose the fur the same way as a molting rabbit. The rabbit will often have flaky skin and fur will disappear not fall off. The mites are eating the rabbit fur. 

The missing patches will also appear more random or only be behind the head and shoulders. 

Evelyn (image below) tends to shed just a little bit in early spring. She lost her hair a little behind the ears. But in the fall right before winter, she will start to lose more clumps and mostly behind her neck.

See how it is just skin and no flakes. Plus she also has new fur growing back almost simultaneously. This is how you know that it is shedding or molting and not mites.

rabbit molting behind the neck

This is not a post about fur mites. However, the best treatment I have found for this is DE or diatomaceous earth which you can check out on Amazon. Dust the rabbit with it well for a few days then leave it be to see if the fur starts to grow back. 

This is another reason why I do not let my rabbits free roam the backyard. You never know what wild thing ran across the yard leaving their guests behind.

black rabbit molting

How To Deal With A Rabbits Molting Behavior

When it comes to temperament and wanting to be left alone just respect that. Their body is doing a lot and the rabbit just don’t feel their best. 

Pet them once or twice on the head and if they don’t seem to want you to keep going let them be. 

While they may be standoffish they should not be sitting still in the back corner of their cage all the time. This could indicate that they have a blockage. I will go over how to keep that at bay later. 

Rabbits Eating Less Is Normal Rabbit Molting Behavior

Just like when you are under the weather you don’t eat as much. Nigher do they. 

If they start to eat less than half of what they normally do then try to add something like calf mana to their feed. 

BUT be careful when adding this to their feed. It is a supplement, not a full rabbit formula. Rabbits can start to want ONLY the calf manna and refuse to go back to their own feed. So if you see your rabbit not eating much, put maybe one tablespoon on top of their pellets for a day and see what happens. 

Do not do two days in a row. Spread it out so the rabbit does not get used to having it on their feed. 

rabbit molting

Sore Hocks Can Be A Result Of Molting

Especially if a rabbit is a large breed and highly I have noticed that some rabbits will get sore hocks during or at the end of molting. That’s ok and they will heal up once they are done molting.

Some easy things to do if they have sore hocks are to add a resting mat to their cage. These are just like the ones you can get at a rabbit show convention and are easily cleaned. They also allow for the rabbit’s waste to fall through.

To help heal their feet if they are looking dry and cracked is putting bag balm on the bare spots.

My Rabbitry Must Haves

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Grooming A Rabbit While Molting

Helping your rabbit get rid of the dead hair that is coming off will help speed it along and also help them not ingest the fur.

If your rabbit is molting a lot. Here is what to do. 

I windy day would be best to send the fur off in the wind instead of swirling around you. If you don’t have the weather in your favor you can use a shop vac with the hose on the opening so it shoots air out instead of sucking it in.

Dog groomers often use this type of tool to dry the dog but it is also used for wooled breed rabbits to get the fur out as well. The shop vac is just an alternative to this tool here.

Sit them on a table and where the loose hair is sticking out like cotton candy (like in the image below) just start plucking. Grab hold of the first at the ends that are sticking out past the main hairs and gently pull.

rabbit molting on the rump

Their fur should feel loose when you stick your fingers down to the base of it. Not like there is a layer of padding between their back and your fingers. 

rabbit molting example

Once you get as much fur off as you can this way use something like a comb with staggard teeth, a wide-toothed comb or a grooming rake to get down deep into the fur that is stuck. 

Start combing that fur out and get as much as you can. If the rabbit starts getting sick of it then give them a break and do it again tomorrow. 

Grooming Rake

THE BEST tool I have found to get lots of fur off of thick-coated animals.

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Grooming Essentials

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Comb with handle

This is an excellent comb with a handle that also does well to get the molted fur out of the coat.

Get it on Amazon.

Rabbit Molting Behavior FAQs

Do bunnies get grumpy when they shed?

YEP! Some will just run away from you to be left alone while others might get aggressive. So don’t push it. Just let them be. Now if your rabbit is misbehaving and coming at you for no reason then that is a problem and you do not have to tolerate it. A firm no and a lowed clap is a great way to start teaching them this is unacceptable. 

If they keep pushing the limit. Grab them by the scruff and firmly hold them on the ground until they relax. Almost like a dog does with their puppy. Just don’t force them down too fast or you could hurt their back or legs. 

How long does it take for a rabbit to molt?

It can take almost a month before they have completely lost all their fur and grown a new coat back in.

Does molting hurt rabbits?

I do think they get sensitive skin so be gentle with their regular brushing. Don’t rub the rabbit’s skin with a comb or brush if it is bare.

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Why is my rabbit’s hair standing up?

In the so world this is called “open coat” this is another sign that they are going into light molt. Mary’s fur (image below) isn’t quite standing on end but it’s close. She is molting fur across her back and growing fur back at the same time. Leaving these dark but thin patches

They may not shed chunks like a normal molt. If they have not had fur that looks like that before then just brush them on a daily basis to help get the dead fur out. 

When you take your hand and run it from the rump to the shoulders and the fur goes right back to where it should be this is “flyback” does not do that when a rabbit is in molt.

It does take some time but your rabbit won’t be molting forever. Just do your best to help the rabbit get rid of the fur and it will do the rest.

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