My first bunny, Angel, is an English Angora. I got her as a 10 week old baby and assumed that her fur would take care of itself somehow. It took a year and many big unmanageable mats to realize that the fur needed constant attention. She once had 8 inch long fur! I thought it was strange that she never really shed. All the new growth was getting tangled in the old coat and forming mats. I cut the fur short to even out the patches of mats I cut out and discovered that the coat was much more manageable while short. She is also more comfortable with short fur and there is less risk of her ingesting large amounts of long fur when she grooms. So, now I keep it short. I use a small grooming scissors with the ball tip. They are usually advertised as grooming shears for around the mouth, nose and ears of pets.
I pick up the fur some and put my thumb and forefinger between her skin and the scissors and cut away all over. It looks a little choppy at first, but after a few days the undercoat comes out and it evens out all around. I brush her everyday without fail to remove old fur so that it does not tangle up with the new.
I have found that using electric clippers is virtually useless as the blades clog constantly with the fine fur and it takes experience and expertise to use them correctly. There is also the risk of inadvertently gouging the skin with clippers.
So, here are some of the things I learned about angora fur management:· Keep the fur short. ½ inch to 1 inch to prevent mats from forming. This also reduces the risk of wool block, the bunny is more comfortable with short fur and she is better able to reach her cecal droppings.
· Use a sharp scissors with ball tip for safety. Pick up the fur and cut all over, brushing frequently to remove stray snips of fur.
Brush everyday without fail as part of a routine "snuggle session" to remove loose fur. I use a cat brush with medium black bristles. The very soft bristle brushes don't do the job very well and wire slickers hurt delicate bunny skin by pulling on it too hard.
· If you encounter a large mat, snip into the mat carefully, pull the mat apart gently with your hands and then use a comb to comb out the fur in the mat while holding the clump at the base by the skin to prevent pulling on and injuring the skin. You can then cut out the long fur that is being combed out. Once the mat is thinner it can be cut out completely.
· If the bunny has mats very close to the skin, let it grow out some so that it can be more safely cut out.
· For severe matting work for about an hour a day (or as long as the bunny can tolerate it) in sections on the body. One day work on the cheeks, the next day on the shoulders, etc. Don't overtire your bunny trying to do it all in one sitting.
· If the bunny is severely matted, she will need to have the mats clipped off with clippers. You should have about 3 clipper blades on hand and change often - as soon as the blade gets warm to the touch. Let one blade cool on a slab of marble that has been put in the freezer or on a stainless steel sink while you use the other. Use #40 or #50 blades only as the #10 will not cut through the angora or other bunny fur. Work for only 20 minutes and then let the bunny rest for 10 minutes. Work for no more than an hour total on the rabbit. Watch very carefully for stress levels in the bunny.
Since I have 3 angoras I have extensive experience with their grooming. My daughter, the vet tech, helps me clip them when they get matted. Even with all our experience and care, one of my bunnies got so stressed she stopped eating after being clipped and needed fluids and pain meds to get her through. Now we can only clip her for 10 minutes tops at any time. So you must constantly be aware of how the bunny is reacting.
Do not use a groomer. Your rabbit-savvy vet can do any shaving and clipping needed.