Despite our best efforts, sometimes the angora rabbits develop a mat in their fur. Angoras grow out their fibre like any other animal, though periodically (every few months) they release the fibre as they grow a new coat. If you aren’t careful about brushing or plucking out the fluff that has shed, it will get tangled in the new coat and form into a felted, matted mess. Weekly brushings are the best way to prevent fibre from getting overly tangled, but sometimes a mat can develop despite regular grooming – particularly around the rabbit’s bottom and under their chin/sides of the neck. Fry develops a lot of matted fur on his sides where he lays so I have to stay on top of brushing him out otherwise it gets crazy hard to remove (I learned this very early on). Nibbler is very fussy about grooming so sometimes I skip a brushing but then the next time I pick her up for grooming she has developed a mat.
I’m going to show you how to safely remove a clump of matted hair without using clippers (my bunnies all freak out the second I turn on a set of clippers near them)
^ Nail clippers! Rabbits have crazy long and sharp claws. Letting them get too long is uncomfortable for the bun and also leaves you open to savage scratchings haha. Keep those puppies short. The nice thing about rabbit claws vs. dog claws is that the nail is clear so you can usually see where the skin starts and trim well above the point where the rabbit will be nicked. Bunnies that are allowed to dig or run around on a surface other than a soft cage interior can naturally wear down their nails, but if they are not that active the nails require regular trimming.
^ Brushes! The one I like best is the metal brush on the far right; it grips the fibre better for pulling out loose bits and tearing apart tangles. The plastic combs are good for working a single tangle, and the soft brush is good for an overall brushing that is more for relaxing the bunny than anything else.
^ Safety scissors. The first time I tried to trim Leela’s fur I used a regular pair of barber’s scissors and promptly cut her skin and completely freaked out. Rabbits are prey animals and generally hide the fact that they are in pain to prevent predators from thinking they are vulnerable, so Leela didn’t even flinch, but it must have been painful. I was scissor shy for a pretty long time after that, until I found these babies online. They come with a bunch of attachments at different lengths that can also be used as brushes. The scissors are sharp and quiet, and the guard works really well. No cuts since!
^ These are the scissors I use most, especially for working out matted fur. They are a pair of super tiny cuticle scissors I had in my makeup drawer and thought would help with the bunnies and OH MAN they are the best. I never use them to just grab a clump of fibre and snip blindly, I use the safety scissors for general cutting. But these tiny blades get into the occasionally very tight space between a mat and the paper-thin skin of the bunny.
Here is how I use them to snip out clumped fur.
Start by identifying where the mat is. Try your best to remove it with a comb or your fingers before using scissors, sometimes they can be pulled apart by hand and the tangled fur lifted out with a comb. If it is super stuck this is what I do.
1. ALWAYS be aware of where the rabbit’s skin is. If you pull the hair up and just tuck the scissors in, you are likely also pulling up their very delicate skin and you WILL cut them. And ugh that is horrible. Using one hand feel for the base of the mat and using the other determine where the skin is. I start by ensuring the skin is not in the way, then make a small snip into the base of the mat to open it up (pictured above)
2. Once you have created an entry point for yourself, pull the matted fibre back to reveal the unmatted hairs at the base. Sometimes the mat can go right up tight to the rabbit’s skin (usually if it has been left for a long time), which is super difficult to do but still workable using this method.
3. As you can see in the picture above, there is the matted fur under my thumb, and some vertical lines at the bottom before you reach the skin. That is where you want to insert the tiny scissors. Slip one blade behind a very thin row of hairs, ensuring you can still see the blade behind the hair which means there is no skin between the blades. If you can’t see through the thin line of hairs you are about to cut then you have too much hair between the blades. Basically, always ensure you will only be cutting hair. If you aren’t sure, reposition the scissors. There have been times that I’ve cut like 10 hairs at a time and it took ages, but the bunny was relaxed and I could just take my time and be 100% sure the bunny wasn’t going to be injured. If you cut them, it obviously damages the bunny’s trust in you and grooming will be a chore rather than relaxing. Note: If your rabbit won’t sit still enlist the help of someone else to hold them rather than having them sit on a table. If the rabbit continues to struggle then let them go and try again the next day.
4. Here is a visual of where you want to snip with the cuticle scissors. Snip one thin row of hairs from one side to the other, then pull the mat back and do another row. Keep going until you have reached the end of the mat, then (again, ensuring the skin is out of the way) snip the mat clear.
^ Here is Nibbler’s fur after I have clipped away a mat. She is not cut and all the remaining hair is now loose enough to brush through. I have removed mats from the bottoms of Fry’s feet using this method, and also from the super delicate area behind their ears (always check there for mats!) The more you practice the quicker you will be. If you have any other methods or questions let me know in the comments!