Have you suddenly noticed a lot of hair or fur in your rabbit’s cage or all over your wandering location? You may wonder why my rabbit is suffering from this condition. Why is my rabbit losing hair? What are the reasons behind this? So, let’s find out all your answers in this article.
Rabbits can lose hair due to molting, stress, and false pregnancy. However, other factors like parasite infestation, dental problems, or unitary tract disorders can make your rabbit lose their hair. Consider consulting a vet in such a situation to provide appropriate treatment to your rabbit.
This article will discuss the causes, symptoms, treatments, and prevention of losing hair in rabbits. So let’s find it out.
- 1 My rabbit is losing hair.
- 2 Is it normal for a rabbit to lose hair?
- 3 Symptoms of hair loss in rabbits (alopecia)
- 4 What are the reasons behind my rabbit losing hair?
- 4.1 1) Stress
- 4.2 2) Fighting between two rabbits
- 4.3 3) Parasite infestation
- 4.4 Fleas
- 4.5 Mites
- 4.6 4) A fungus (ringworm)
- 4.7 5) Wet fur of a rabbit
- 4.8 6) Unitary tract disorder
- 4.9 7) Overgrooming
- 4.10 8) Dental problems
- 4.11 9) Pregnancy or false pregnancy
- 4.12 10) Bacterial infection
- 5 How to treat losing hair in rabbits?
- 6 How to prevent my rabbit from losing hair?
- 7 Conclusion:
My rabbit is losing hair.
Losing or shedding fur is natural. All rabbits shed their fur coat in their lifespan. However, if you have noticed small bald spots or missing hair in a larger area of your rabbit’s body, it can be a cause for concern.
Losing hair is also known as alopecia. There are a variety of factors for hair loss. Some reasons for alopecia in rabbits are natural, but some are not.
You can identify alopecia in your rabbit if you notice thinning fur or clumps of hair falling off. This condition can become uncomfortable for them with the experience of itching due to hair loss. Therefore, vet treatment is essential if your rabbit’s hair loss becomes frequent.
Is it normal for a rabbit to lose hair?
Rabbits usually molt their fur every three months, which is natural. Young rabbits replace their baby coat with the transition coat in around five months. When rabbits grow their adult fur coat, they usually molt in spring and autumn (twice a year).
Normal shedding in rabbits is natural. Rabbits shed excess fur from their neck, stomach, back, and tail. However, your rabbit can also pull out its hair because of boredom, stress, or poor health.
If you notice any patchy hair loss in your rabbit with visible symptoms, like redness, sores, crustiness, and itchiness, it can be caused by some infections and diseases.
Natural molting occurs in rabbits on a seasonal basis. But if your rabbit is shedding excessive fur frequently, you must visit your vet because it is a cause of concern. Treating your rabbit can make them return to its normal health, energy levels, and behavior.
Symptoms of hair loss in rabbits (alopecia)
If you don’t know how to ensure that the hair loss problem is an infection or a natural behavior like shedding, then here are some symptoms that you need to tell your vet if your rabbit has:
- Dandruff: Dandruff in rabbits is known as Cheyletiellosis, caused by rabbit mites. The mites (walking dandruff) are large and whitish, dragging themselves across the rabbit’s body, which causes extremely breakable skin.
- Scabs and bumps: Scabs are the thick patches of itchy, dry, raised skin built by Psoroptes cuniculi (mite). Whereas bumps or lumps are hard, minor swelling on the skin is caused by papillomavirus, which can cause lipomas (fatty tumors).
- Redness on skin: If you notice redness on the patchy skin of a rabbit, then it could be a sign of alopecia.
- Rashes on skin: It could be swollen or irritated red skin, which is painful and itchy to your rabbit.
- Itchy skin: Itchy skin can occur depending on its cause. It could appear red, bumpy, normal, or rough.
- Changes in behavior: If you see changes in your rabbit’s behavior, it could also be a sign of infection or disease from which your pet is suffering. If your rabbit is not jumping, eating, or doing other activities than usual, it may need a trip to your vet.
- Chewing more than usual: Sudden changes in behavior, like excessive chewing, can be caused by pain. Your rabbit may act like this because of severe pain or health issues.
- Licking more than usual: If your rabbit licks itself more than usual, it could signify severe disease. Your rabbit may lick itself to control its itchiness or pain.
What are the reasons behind my rabbit losing hair?
There are a variety of reasons behind your rabbit losing hair. It could be natural or can be a cause of concern. In addition, shedding and losing hair are different things.
Your rabbit usually molts or sheds off its hair on a seasonal basis to remove its fur coat, which regrows again. However, sometimes there could be blad spots or patchy hair loss, which indicates behavioral or physical health problems in rabbits.
A variety of reasons can cause hair loss. These includes:
A common reason for losing hair in rabbits is stress. An anxious or stressed rabbit can start pulling off its fur, which causes hair loss and also bald patches.
2) Fighting between two rabbits
Rabbits are social animals. They become comfortable living in pairs or groups. However, they can also pull out each other fur in the act of dominance, known as barbering, which causes losing hair and even injuries.
3) Parasite infestation
Another reason for losing hair in rabbits is parasite problems which cause itchiness. If your rabbit scratches its skin frequently, then it could be the reason for hair loss.
Parasite problems include fleas, mites, and lice which can be uncomfortable and itchy for rabbits.
These mites, fleas, lice, and other tiny particles can cause skin problems and should be treated as soon as possible.
Fleas are tiny particles that stick to a particular animal’s body and suck the blood. Fleas are 2mm long and brown/black in color.
Cats and dogs can commonly spread fleas to your rabbit. So, having a household dog or cat with fleas can also infect your rabbit.
Also, if your rabbit comes in contact with a wild rabbit, it could be a cause of concern because they can transfer the diseases like myxomatosis to them.
Myxomatosis is a severe virus that can damage the areas of your rabbit’s body, like the liver, eyes, skin, lungs, and genitals, putting your infected rabbit at a high risk of catching another lousy infection. So, to avoid this, it is essential to separate your rabbit from wild rabbits to prevent disease.
Mites can be found easily in the environment. It can be transmitted from other animals or household pets like cats or dogs. Also, bedding can be the cause of infection.
There can also be seasonal mites like harvest miles, which can be seen in the autumn. However, mites are present yearly, and their exposure can be hard to prevent or handle. So, it is essential to treat this as soon as possible.
Mites have a variety of species. It has four legs and is small in size. It is less than .1mm long and has a group of its own. It can be present in a rabbit’s ears, skin, or fur. Some mites that can affect your rabbit are:
The mange mites are beige or whitish crusts that commonly appear at the edges of the eye’s eyelids, mouth, nose, toes, and borders.
The crusts of mange have a terrible, musky smell, especially in the ears. If this problem is left untreated, the crustiness will spread until raw sores cover large areas of the body, causing hair loss, irritation, and the risk of fungal or bacterial infection.
Mange mites are highly transmissible skin infections caused by Sarcoptes scabiei. Mange mites are of three types:
- Sarcoptic mange ( caused by Sarcoptes scabiei )
- Demodectic mange ( caused by two mite species from the genus Demodex)
- Notoedric mange ( caused by Notoedres centrifera)
- Psoroptic mange ( caused by Psoroptes cuniculi )
Ear Mites( Psoroptes cuniculi )
Ear mites are a common problem in domestic rabbits and are also known as ear canker mites. It can be the itchiest, crusty, painful mite infestation for your rabbit.
Ear mites can also cause infection and skin loss in a rabbit’s ear, damaging the inner ear and spreading to the central nerve system. Here are some symptoms of ear mites in rabbits:
- Shaking their head
- Extreme irritation
- Losing hair around their ears
- Scratching their ears more than usual
- Your rabbit is not allowing you to touch its ears because of pain
- Flapping their ears
- large red-brown crusts in their ear canal.
Ear mites are transferred from one animal or rabbit to another and will survive on an infected animal’s skin for three weeks. So, it is essential to treat it immediately after detecting it; otherwise, it can be hard to treat.
Fur Mites ( Cheyletiella parasitovorax )
Fur mites, also known as Cheyletiella parasitovorax, are flakes in a rabbit’s skin that can be seen as dandruff. These mites cause scaly, crusty skin, leading to itchiness, hair loss, and bald patches( alopecia ).
Fortunately, it is not as dangerous as other mites, but detecting fur mites could be more challenging than mange mites and ear mites.
Fur mites are also known as ‘Waking Dandruff’ because if you notice them clearly, you will find that it crawls on the fur and skin of a rabbit. These are typically characterized by the creation of dandruff or flaky skin in the back and between your rabbit’s shoulder bladder.
Harvest Mites (chiggers)
Harvest mites, also known as chiggers, are seasonal parasites. It is usually seen in autumn. It is a practice that gives them their name Autumnal Neotrombicula.
If your rabbit lives in a rural area and mostly has outside access, it may get affected by this parasite. It can be caught as orange or red small dotes, which can appear head, feet, ears, or belly. Harvest mites seem to prefer rabbit ears because there are so many little places for them to hide.
Lice infestations are known as ectoparasites. These are commonly itchy and scratchy for a rabbit. Also, it can be easily transmitted from one specific animal to another and even infects humans.
Lice are just like ants that stick to the fur or skin of a rabbit. It can be of two types:
- Biting lice: These lice can cause extreme scratching, thinning fur, and bald patches.
- Sucking lice: These lice are more problematic than biting lice because it sucks the animal’s blood. It can cause extreme blood loss and also transmit blood-borne diseases.
4) A fungus (ringworm)
Ringworm is a fungal infection that can cause hair loss and other skin infections. These species can infect both animals and humans. In addition, it can be transmitted from one rabbit or animal to another.
This fungus is named ringworm because of the swollen, red circular lesion it creates with a clear center. Scaling, bald areas, and crusting are far more common symptoms as compared to the red ring.
Ringworm transmits by direct touch with an infected animal or anything in contact with the infected animal, such as toys, fur, bedding, hair, and brushes. It can usually occur on a rabbit’s ears, head and face.
5) Wet fur of a rabbit
If your rabbit’s skin or fur becomes wet regularly, their skin can develop redness, crusting, baldness, and bacterial infection. In addition, leaky water bottles, overgroomed by another rabbit from licking, moist litter, and water crocks can cause wet fur.
Also, your rabbit can become wet due to bodily fluids like eye discharge, fecal staining, leakage of urine, or drooling because of dental problems.
Pseudomonas aeruginosa infection can result in moist dermatitis, which appears as slightly blue staining of the fur. So, replacing or washing the containers to disinfect them is essential if drinking water is polluted with Pseudomonas.
Also read: My Rabbit Has A Yellow Stain.
6) Unitary tract disorder
If your rabbit is losing its fur around the area of its tail, between its hindquarters, and on the belly, then unitary tract disorder can cause this problem.
Urine leakage and urine scalding can be caused by unitary tract problems, including bladder sludge, bladder stones, and urinary tract infections. In addition, rabbits’ skin can become red because of its toxic scalding urine, which causes hair loss.
Overgrooming in rabbits is not normal because it can be caused by boredom or stress. Also, if you have a pair of rabbits, one can overgroom the other, which can cause bald spots and hair loss, especially around the eyes and ears.
Overgrooming another partner might indicate that one rabbit in the pair is uneasy and attempting to please the other, dominating the rabbit. However, it is not always symptomatic of any health or behavioral issues.
8) Dental problems
If your rabbit has fur loss under its chin, on the dewlap, and chest, then it is the cause of wet skin.
Most of the rabbits are picky eaters. Also, some of them suddenly develop this kind of habit.
Some rabbits do not like to eat pellets, but others do. Some rabbits like to eat only treats and refuse to eat hay and pellets. Every rabbit has different habits and personalities. These can be the signs of dental problems such as a molar abscess or molar spurs.
It can make the rabbit drool or saliva, which can be acidic because it scalds the skin. This drool can make the fur of the rabbit wet, itchy and sore, which causes hair loss. As a result, five-year-old or older rabbits have a high risk of having dental problems.
9) Pregnancy or false pregnancy
Rabbits usually pull out their fur to build a nest for their babies. Female rabbits are more prone to this type of behavior.
To make their nest, they take out their fur from their chest, belly, and sides and line up their nest with it. Also, they use other items from households, like pillow stuffing, clothes, or couches, to make their nest.
However, your rabbit can also show this behavior even if they are not pregnant. This means your rabbit is experiencing a false pregnancy.
False pregnancy can occur in your rabbit if they believe they are pregnant, even if it is not possible. Any female rabbit who is three months old or above can experience false pregnancy.
10) Bacterial infection
If your rabbit lives in a warm or humid environment, there is a high chance of getting a bacterial skin infection. The skin and fur of a rabbit should be dry, but because of this environment, their skin will remain moist and never become dry.
Due to the moisture of humidity, a rabbit can’t reach its backends or tail of the thighs. In addition, the fur of a rabbit may become smelly and crumbly, which can make your rabbit suffer from flystrike. And slowly, this might result in causing hair loss on the infected spots.
The condition of flystrike is caused by larvae, which is life-threatening. Flystrike makes larvae burrow under the skin of a rabbit to feed itself with flesh. So if your rabbit has alopecia around its backend, it could be flystrike’s symptom.
How to treat losing hair in rabbits?
The treatment of your rabbit may depend on what type of physical or behavioral problem they are suffering from that is causing hair loss. However, brushing and grooming your rabbit is essential to identify any possible issues.
Here are some treatments according to the issues of hair loss:
Urinary tract infection
Antibiotics can cure urinary tract disorders, subcutaneous fluids can treat bladder sludge, and surgery can remove the bladder stone. However, your vet may recommend giving a dry butt bath to your rabbit if it is poorly burned.
Your vet may perform a dental exam to treat a tooth infection and smoothen the molar spurs.
Pregnancy or false Pregnancy
Your vet may suggest having your rabbit spayed or neutered so it will not cause health problems like mammary, urinary cancer, and other reproductive system problems.
You can distract your rabbit from overgrooming by giving it new toys and enough time to play and run freely. In addition, try to provide a large space for your rabbit so they can do their activities like jumping and hopping easily.
A fungus (ringworm)
This condition can be treated with lufenuron ( a program) that stops the infection formation of chitin ( a necessary structural element of fungal cell walls).
Shaving the infected area is essential if your rabbit is dealing with a bacterial skin infection. Also, your vet may prescribe medication and advise you on how to cure and treat the disease.
Morden medications can treat parasite infestation. This treatment is also safest for lagomorphs and rapidly removes the parasites and cures hair loss in rabbits.
Your vet can offer you to have a fleas treatment and give dosages if your rabbit gets the fleas. Also, they can suggest grooming your rabbit by combing its fur and dipping the comb in alcohol or soapy water to kill the fleas.
However, we recommend consulting about this problem to your vet before treating your rabbit.
Your vet may prepare scotch tape or skin scratching to detect the mites under the microscope. Fortunately, the two most common treatments used to treat mites in the rabbit are Revolution (topical medication) and Ivermectin (injectable medication)
- Mange mites( Sarcoptes scabiei) are the worst mite. This condition may require immediate treatment after detecting its symptoms. If left neglected, it may cause complications and become difficult to treat.
- Ear mites ( Psoroptes cuniculi): These can be treated safely and successfully with injections, oral ivermectin, or dermal-absorbed antiparasitic drugs. This medication repeats over 12-14 days, with one moxidectin injection once in 10 days for two treatments.
- Fur mites (cheyletiella mites), also known as walking dandruff usually not be suspected or visible. However, therapy with suitable medicine, such as selamectin, frequently resolves the issue.
Lice in rabbits can be treated with ivermectin injections 7 to 10 days apart for three to four sessions which is usually safe and successful.
Disclaimer: Do not do any treatment for your rabbit by yourself without consulting your vet.
How to prevent my rabbit from losing hair?
To heal the conditions of hair loss in rabbits, you may need to detect the cause of it, which may require regular visits to your vet. So, taking care of your rabbit’s condition is essential to prevent the diseases or infections that cause hair loss.
Here are some different ways to help you avoid infections or conditions that might cause hair loss for rabbits:
- Shampoos and other remedies: Do not provide shampoos and other medications. These may have been listed as safe to treat mites, but it contains some harmful ingredients like permethrin or pyrethrin. Always bring your rabbit to your vet if they are suffering from mites.
- Proper diet: A rabbit’s diet must have enough protein, fiber, and other nutrients. The staple diet of rabbits should contain 90% hay, 5% pellets, and 5% fruits and vegetables.
- Environment: Environment is an essential part of your rabbit’s life. Ensure that you are providing a stress-free and safe environment for your rabbit. Try to avoid crowded places for them. They can become stressed after seeing many peoples around them.
- Mineral oils or tropical ointments: Do not try to treat your rabbit’s ear mites with mineral oils or creams. It will only worsen your rabbit’s condition and health and even cause life-threatening problems.
- Bedding: Providing safe, warm, and comfortable bedding is essential. Make sure your rabbit’s house does not have a rough, wet, or rugged surface; otherwise, it can cause sore hock ( Pododermatitis). The bedding is the only place where rabbits feel cozy and safe. You can provide the bedding of hay, pellets, or shredded paper.
- Clean shelter: Maintaining a clean and dry shelter for your rabbit is essential to avoid stress. Cleaning rabbits’ hutch is required so they can live a healthy life. A dirty cage can lower the quality of your rabbit’s life.
- Front line: Front line treatment is usually known to treat fleas. Do not use this for your rabbit. It will lead to neurological problems and worse for your rabbit.
- Water bowl: Make sure to clean the water bowl of your rabbit regularly. Always provide fresh water to them. Also, ensure that the water bowl is large enough to have a whole day’s water supply.
- Grooming: Always groom your rabbit so that you can detect any early signs of infection or diseases. Make sure that their fur and skin are dry enough. Wet skin or hair can cause health problems.
- Health checkups: The health checkups are essential for your rabbit’s long healthy life. Heath checkups can detect the early cause of the problem. It would be best to take your rabbit to the vet yearly for a checkup.
- Sudden behavioral change: You must contact your vet if you notice any changes in your rabbit’s behavior because it can be a cause for concern. This behavior can include less appetite, hair loss, changes in urine, changes in hair coat, changes in drinking, or changes in activities.
Also read: Is Pine Bedding Safe For Rabbits?
- Behavioral changes like molting, stress, or false pregnancy can cause hair loss.
- Parasite infection, dental problems, or unitary tract disorder can be the other reasons for losing hair in rabbits.
- Do not do any treatment for your rabbit by yourself without consulting your vet.
- When you feel your rabbit is suffering from pain or showing sudden behavior change, take them to the vet.
- Regular checkups, a clean environment, and a healthy diet are some ways to prevent these types of infections and behaviors.