Where do you think Angora wool comes from? Angora trees? No! It comes from Angora rabbits, you silly goose. These funny-looking bunnies are known all over the world for their uniquely luxurious wool, but that’s not all they have to offer. Angora rabbits also make terrific pets. Read on to learn anything you could possibly want to know about these unusual fluffballs.
ANGORA RABBIT APPEARANCE
Angora rabbits are famed for their soft, wooly coats, which grow thick and voluminous, and are even finer than cashmere. Angora rabbits are often bred specifically for their wool, but also can be kept as pets. Different breeds of Angora rabbit come in different sizes and have differently textured coats. The English Angora rabbit is the smallest breed, while the appropriately named giant Angora is the largest.
ANGORA RABBIT HISTORY
Angora rabbits are named for the city of Angora, Turkey — now called Ankara — where they are believed to have been discovered. The story goes that French sailors who visited Angora noticed that the shawls worn by the women in the city were of a fine wool material the Frenchmen had never seen before. They later imported the wool-producing rabbits back to France. The story is apocryphal and many dispute it, claiming that France is the Angora rabbit’s true place of origin. Either way, the French popularized the animal during the 18th century.
There are many breeds of Angora rabbit, but only four are officially recognized by the American Rabbit Breeders Association (ARBA): the English Angora rabbit, the French Angora rabbit, the giant Angora rabbit and the satin Angora rabbit.
ENGLISH ANGORA RABBITS
The English Angora rabbit is the smallest of the Angora rabbit breeds. Adults typically weigh 5 to 7 pounds. English Angora rabbits produce high-quality wool, but their coats require a lot of grooming maintenance. While all Angora rabbits require a significant dedication to grooming from their owners, English Angora rabbits need even more than their cousins, so pet lovers who are lazy about grooming definitely need not apply. An English Angora rabbit can be identified by the fact that it is the only variety whose hair hangs over its eyes.
FRENCH ANGORA RABBITS
Until the mid-20th century, English and French Angora rabbits were considered to be one breed called the Angora wooler, classified as “English type” and “French type.” In 1944, the ARBA officially recognized them as individual breeds. French Angora rabbits are larger than English Angora rabbits, reaching 7 to 10 pounds at maturity. Their wool is more coarse than that of their English counterparts, but as a result they require significantly less grooming for upkeep.
GIANT ANGORA RABBITS
Unsurprisingly, giant Angora rabbits are the largest of the Angora breeds, weighing in at 9 to 12 pounds. Louise Walsh, of Taunton, Mass., created the giant variety in response to the ARBA’s refusal to officially accept the German breed. She bred German Angoras with French lops and Flemish giants to create the new breed, which was different enough from other varieties to gain ARBA’s approval. The giant Angoras produce three kinds of wool: the awn hair or guard hair; awn fluff, aka middle type; and the underwool, which is the softest and most valuable.
SATIN ANGORA RABBITS
The satin Angora rabbit is similar in size to the French breed, but produces less wool than its cousin, although selective-breeding efforts to improve wool production are ongoing. The wool that satin Angoras do produce is prized for its unique, satiny sheen, which gives this rabbit its name. The breed was created by crossing regular old satin rabbits with French angoras.
ANGORA RABBIT PERSONALITY
Angora rabbits have sparkling personalities and make great pets as a result. They are generally friendlier, more outgoing and more playful than typical rabbits. They also tend to be more socially oriented than many rabbits, so it’s best to have other rabbits around for them to bond with. Alternatively, if you have a cat, it may serve just as well. Angora rabbits are well-regarded for their tendency to get along with cats.
ANGORA RABBIT GROOMING
Angora rabbits are most famous for their wool, but those luxurious coats need to be maintained. You can’t expect to take a hands-off approach to grooming when it comes to Angora rabbits. In fact, not grooming them properly can harm them. Angora rabbit wool can become matted easily. It therefore must be brushed every day without fail. Angora rabbit coats grow rapidly, and must be shorn at least every three months to be kept under control. The longer an Angora rabbit hair is, the more they ingest while grooming themselves. If not shorn regularly, these animals risk ingested hair causing intestinal blockages.
Next: Easter Bunny Origins
ANGORA RABBIT HEALTH CONCERNS
As mentioned, Angora rabbits are at risk of the hair they ingest from grooming causing intestinal blockage, especially if their hair is not properly maintained and shorn regularly. In fact, this condition has a name: wool block. This is a serious condition that can lead to death. The importance of grooming your Angora rabbit therefore cannot be overstated. With all that wool, it comes as no surprise that Angora rabbits are very heat sensitive. In warm climates, cool your Angora rabbits with air conditioning, or mist them occasionally with water.
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