Why Do Rabbits Shed Fur and How to Treat It

Shedding Fur in Rabbits: What You Need to Know

Rabbits can experience hair loss, also known as shedding fur, due to various reasons. Hair loss can appear as small patches or larger areas of missing fur on their bodies. It can also be a generalized hair loss throughout the entire body of the rabbit.

In many cases, rabbits with fur loss may experience itching, which can cause discomfort. Since hair loss in rabbits can be an underlying medical issue, it is important to treat them as soon as possible.

1. Why Do Rabbits Shed Fur?

When rabbits shed fur, they can lose fur in small sections or shed fur in larger patches on their bodies. You may notice tufts of rabbit fur in their living area or in their droppings. It is important to regularly groom your rabbit to quickly detect any potential issues. Here are some reasons why rabbits shed fur:

a. Seasonal Shedding

It is normal for rabbits to shed fur more during their regular shedding seasons. Shedding fur is a natural part of their regular shedding cycle. However, it can also be a sign of fleas, mites, fungal infections, anxiety, or other skin diseases if the fur loss occurs in the form of bald patches or inflamed skin.

Rabbits typically shed fur four times a year. They have two major molting seasons and two minor molting seasons. The molting seasons usually last for several weeks each time. The major molting seasons last longer than the minor ones. If your rabbit is shedding fur but still has intact fur, there is no need to worry too much.

During fur shedding, rabbits may appear scruffy, with uneven tufts of fur. Once the shedding process is complete, their fur will return to normal. You may notice a distinct line separating the new coat from the old coat. Typically, rabbits shed fur from their head and end at their back.

In some cases, you may notice a rabbit shedding large patches of fur before the new fur starts to grow. In this situation, you may see bald spots where the fur has been shed. The underlying skin will be normal, without redness or inflammation, and new fur will start to regrow within a few days. If it doesn’t regrow, it could indicate a fur loss condition. In most cases, your rabbit will be fine, but they may be infected with parasites or have a skin condition causing fur loss.

b. Aging

Rabbits also start shedding fur as they age, usually starting around 6-8 years old. As rabbits age, their fur may become thinner, especially around the eyes, nose, and ears. Eventually, the fur may become so thin that bald patches appear. While it is advisable to have your rabbit examined by a veterinarian to check for any other health issues, this is often just a sign of aging in rabbits.

c. Skin Conditions

  • Ringworm: It is a fungal infection that can cause fur loss, scaling, and round hairless patches with redness and irritation on the skin. Rabbits can contract ringworm from cats, dogs, or other outdoor animals through direct contact. It is not a life-threatening condition but can be highly contagious, even to humans, causing discomfort and sensitive skin. It is best to treat rabbits with antifungal medications to help them recover from the infection.
See also  The Enigmatic Manul Cats: Not Fat, Just Fluffy

Rabbit shedding fur due to ringworm
Image Source: 1mquotes

  • Abscesses or Syphilis: These can be other causes of fur loss in rabbits, especially when there are swollen sores or infected areas. Another less common cause of skin disease or fur loss can be the malfunctioning of the thyroid gland causing hormonal imbalances.

d. Parasites

Parasites such as fleas and ear mites can cause fur loss in rabbits.

  • Ear mites: You will typically see fur loss around the base of the ears. It can also be a result of excessive scratching due to itching. You might also see scratches on the skin, usually around the ears. Ear mites can also cause fur loss around the eyes, nose, mouth, ears, and hock joints. They can also create scaly patches around these areas.

  • Fleas: Fleas themselves do not cause significant fur loss in rabbits, but they can cause excessive itching, leading to scratching and eventually resulting in hair loss patches. In this case, rabbits may have inflamed or scratched skin. Additionally, rabbits with fleas may be susceptible to other dangerous diseases such as anemia, rabbit calicivirus, or myxomatosis. Therefore, it is important to remove fleas from rabbits as soon as possible. You can apply flea treatment for rabbits following our guidelines below.

Rabbit infested with fleas
Image Source: 1mquotes

  • Flystrike: Flystrike is a life-threatening condition caused when flies lay eggs on the backside of rabbits. As the eggs hatch, maggots burrow into the rabbit’s skin, causing rapid deterioration. In some cases, the initial sign of flystrike is a small bald patch where the eggs were laid, often just above or below the tail.

  • Although less common, rabbits can also be infested with other parasites such as lice, mouse mites, and dust mites.

e. Wet Fur

Prolonged wet fur can eventually lead to fur loss and skin problems for rabbits. Gradually, this can cause red, scaly, and bacterial-infected skin. The origin of the problem may include:

  • Environmental factors such as leaking water bottles, wet litter boxes, or excessive grooming from another rabbit.
  • Urine getting trapped in the fur and on the skin for an extended period. Eventually, the acidic nature of urine causes fur to shed and the underlying skin becomes red and irritated. If left untreated, it can lead to skin infections. This condition can also occur due to involuntary urination or urinary incontinence (due to urinary tract infection) or the inability to self-groom (due to obesity, joint inflammation, etc.).
  • Rabbits with large dewlaps can get their dewlap wet when drinking, leading to fur loss and skin irritation.

Rabbit shedding fur on the neck due to wet fur
Image Source: 1mquotes

  • Rabbits with urinary dribbling due to dental issues or tear duct discharge.

  • Infections caused by the Pseudomonas aeruginosa bacteria can sometimes cause moist dermatitis with the fur turning blue. If the drinking water is infected with Pseudomonas, strict disinfection or replacement of water containers is necessary.

Investigating the cause of wet fur and eliminating the source is the first and most important step in treating fur loss in rabbits. You should regularly groom your rabbit and check if their fur is wet. If wet fur is not due to a medical condition, you can address it by drying your rabbit’s fur. You should never bathe your rabbit as it can cause shock and death. If your rabbit is dirty, you can follow our safe hygiene practices for cleaning rabbits.

See also  Why Do Dogs and Cats Like to Watch You During Intimate Moments? Do They Know You're Being Sneaky?

f. Stress

Many stressed or anxious rabbits will self-soothe by excessive grooming. Some self-grooming behavior is completely normal for rabbits, but anxious rabbits may groom themselves to the point of causing bald patches and fur loss.

Rabbit shedding fur on the chest due to stress
Image Source: 1mquotes

When you have multiple rabbits living together as a pair, one rabbit may excessively groom the other, resulting in fur loss (especially around the ears and eyes). This can indicate that one rabbit is stressed in the pair and is trying to comfort the other rabbit, but it doesn’t necessarily indicate any behavioral or health issues.

g. Pregnancy

Female rabbits shed fur during pregnancy. When a female rabbit is pregnant, she will pluck fur from her chest, abdomen, and front legs to create a lining for her nest. This will cause bald patches in these areas. Sometimes, rabbits can have a false pregnancy, and they will still pluck fur to line the nest as if they were actually pregnant. Spaying the rabbit will resolve this behavior.

h. Injuries and Infections

  • If your rabbit has had an accident resulting in cuts or injuries, it can also cause patches of fur loss around the affected area. In these cases, you will notice cuts or flaky skin where the injury occurred. Monitor the area for the next few days to ensure that the wound is healing and not becoming infected. If it is a severe injury, you should take your rabbit to a small animal veterinarian immediately.

  • Additionally, bald patches can indicate that two rabbits have been fighting. In most cases, you will notice other evidence of rabbit fighting before you observe the fur loss. There will be tufts of fur scattered around the room, and the behavior of the rabbits towards each other may change as they become more cautious.

Rabbit shedding fur on the abdomen
Image Source: 1mquotes

  • Like humans, rabbits can sometimes get infected due to bacteria, causing irritated skin and fur loss. Fur loss around the mouth, nose, and fur around the eyes is often the result of upper respiratory tract infections, such as snuffles, but other skin infections can occur, especially around cuts and scratches.

i. Dental Issues

Dental problems in rabbits can cause fur loss as it prevents rabbits from self-grooming properly. When teeth are obstructing, they can trap urine. Overgrown teeth can also cause dribbling and tear staining in rabbits. This ultimately leads to drooling, wet fur around the mouth, chin, and eyes, which can cause hair loss patches and discomfort.

j. Abscesses

Abscesses are large, hairless, swollen areas on a rabbit’s skin. They are not always severe, but they can result from dental issues if they appear around the jawline or skull. Abscesses can also be a sign of infection or even cancer, so it is best to have your rabbit checked by a veterinarian if you notice any of these swollen areas. Your veterinarian may need to examine the abscess to determine the most effective antibiotics to reduce swelling and the risk of severe infection.

Rabbit with abscess caused by dental issues
Image Source: 1mquotes

k. Bumblefoot

Bumblefoot causes fur loss on the feet of rabbits. This condition is most commonly seen in rabbits kept in wire-bottomed or rough-surfaced enclosures, but it can occur in rabbits that are never caged. Heavyset breeds (such as Flemish Giants and Californians), obese rabbits, and rabbits with thin fur on the feet (such as Rex) are most at risk. The inflamed skin area will develop into sores and open wounds, leading to fur loss on the affected areas.

See also  Article Title: Understanding Diabetes in Cats - Causes, Symptoms, and Treatment

For simple infected bumblefoot cases, providing a soft, absorbent resting surface (preferably cotton wool), cleaning the underside of the rabbit’s foot, and applying a padding dressing for 1-2 weeks will help heal the condition. Reducing weight and preventing obesity is essential to relieve pressure on their feet.

For severe or deep infections, you should have the rabbit X-rayed to determine whether the infection has penetrated the bone. If the rabbit’s feet are severely infected or deeply ulcerated and cannot or will not heal, the veterinarian may need to amputate the foot to relieve pain.

What to Do When Your Rabbit Sheds Fur?

If your rabbit is shedding fur during the regular shedding season, eating, drinking, and sleeping well, and does not show any other signs of disease, you can be reassured. However, if you suspect that your rabbit is shedding fur abnormally, the first step you should take is to visit your rabbit’s veterinarian.

Abnormal fur shedding in rabbits looks slightly different from the regular shedding. Usually, shedding fur comes with other symptoms. In most cases, fur loss in rabbits is due to parasites (such as fleas or mites), infections, or excessive stress and anxiety. If you notice these symptoms when your rabbit sheds a lot of fur or has bald patches, it is best to consult a veterinarian for further instructions.

Rabbit fur loss on the back
Image Source: 1mquotes

Your veterinarian will conduct a thorough examination of your rabbit to determine the cause of fur loss. During the examination, the veterinarian will look for signs of potential causes of fur loss in your rabbit.

They may ask you questions about your rabbit’s behavior and any changes you have noticed. Depending on what is found during the health check, they may request blood or urine tests, X-rays, or perform a skin scrape for further microscopic examination.

Fur Loss Treatment in Rabbits

The treatment for fur loss in rabbits will depend on the underlying cause. Some conditions and treatment methods may include:

  • Parasite infestation can be easily treated with appropriate medications for fleas, ticks, and other parasites. Your veterinarian can guide you on which medications your rabbit may need.

  • Dental issues may require teeth filing to make them smooth and may involve treating any tooth infections.

  • Disorders of the urinary system can be treated with antibiotics, bladder sludge may be treated with subcutaneous fluids, and bladder stones may require surgical removal.

  • In cases of bacterial infections, infected areas should be cleaned and swabbed for culture and sensitivity testing so that the veterinarian can determine the most effective antibiotics for the rabbit’s infection.

  • False pregnancy can be resolved by spaying the rabbit.

Rabbit being treated at the vet
Image Source: 1mquotes

Restoring Your Rabbit’s Fur

The regrowth of fur in rabbits will depend on the underlying condition causing fur loss. Depending on the disease condition, your veterinarian may require follow-up visits for reevaluation. There are some things you can do for your rabbit to help prevent potential diseases that could cause fur loss:

  • Provide a stimulating, safe, and stress-free environment for your rabbit, providing space for exercise.
  • Avoid overcrowding the rabbits in one place.
  • Provide clean, fresh water in a sufficiently large bowl.
  • Ensure your rabbit has a healthy diet.
  • Regularly groom your rabbit and take it for an annual veterinary check-up, as well as anytime you notice anything unusual (changes in appetite, water intake, urination, or activity, fur loss, or changes in coat).


  1. “Symptoms of Hair Loss in Rabbits” – Wag
  2. “15 Reasons Your Rabbit is Losing Patches of Fur” – Bunny Lady
Proudly powered by WordPress | Theme: Looks Blog by Crimson Themes.