Why is My Rabbit Losing Patches of Fur?

Has your rabbit been leaving tufts of fur all over their hutch lately? While rabbits do naturally shed their coats seasonally, extensive balding or sudden patches of missing fur can signal something is wrong with your bunny. Abnormal fur loss is no joke – it’s often the first visible sign of an underlying medical issue. Don’t let your rabbit’s condition worsen! In this article, learn all about the usual fur growth cycles plus what causes patchy, itchy, scabbed areas of hair loss. You’ll get the facts on everything from allergies, stress, and bacterial infections to hormone imbalances and parasitic mites. Get ready to help your shedding rabbit and prevent any fur-ther health problems!

Why Do Rabbits Lose Their Fur?

Rabbits naturally lose some of their fur as part of their normal shedding process. However, excessive or abnormal fur loss can be a sign of an underlying health issue. Here are some key points about rabbit fur and shedding:

  • Rabbits have two types of fur – a dense, soft undercoat and longer guard hairs. The undercoat is typically shed every 3 months.

  • Normal shedding results in tufts or patches of fur coming out. Abnormal shedding leads to bald spots and lesions.

  • Shedding allows rabbits to regulate their body temperature as seasons change. It also gets rid of old fur.

  • Stress, poor diet, pregnancy, and health problems can impact normal fur growth cycles leading to excess shedding.

  • Rabbits groom themselves frequently to remove loose hair. They may ingest a lot of it in the process.

  • Some rabbit breeds and genetic lines shed more than others. Rex rabbits, for example, are heavy shedders.

  • Younger rabbits under 1 year old may shed more as juvenile coat transitions to adult fur.

In summary, rabbits normally lose fur as part of their growth cycle. But bald spots or complete fur loss indicates an underlying issue needs veterinary attention.

What is Normal Shedding?

Normal shedding in rabbits involves losing tufts or patches of fur as new fur grows in to replace it. Here's what to expect:

  • Tufts or small clumps of fur will come out when petting or brushing. The rabbit may also pull out fur and eat it.

  • Shedding happens in cycles, often seasonally as daylight changes. Outdoor rabbits shed more in spring and fall.

  • Indoor rabbits can shed year-round with cycles every 3-4 months.

  • Most rabbits lose fur on their backs, sides and hips. The belly, legs, head and neck don't shed as much.

  • No bald spots should occur. Skin and new fur should be visible where fur has shed.

  • Shedding lasts 2-4 weeks as the old coat sheds and new fur replaces it.

  • Daily brushing can help remove loose hair and prevent ingestion. Be gentle over any thinning areas.

  • Tufts and bits of shed fur may accumulate around rabbit living spaces.

  • Increased appetite may occur with more fur ingestion. Provide fresh hay and water.

In summary, normal shedding consists of temporary localized fur loss in patches that grow back fully. It is not itchy or irritated looking. Full baldness does not occur.

What is Abnormal Shedding?

Abnormal shedding in rabbits goes beyond the usual tufts and patches and is cause for concern. Signs include:

  • Large bald spots or areas of complete fur loss down to the skin.

  • Scabs, sores or lesions where fur has fallen out. Red, irritated skin.

  • Sudden onset of molting much sooner than a normal 3 month cycle.

  • Excessive loss of fur around face, belly, legs, tail base or feet.

  • Obvious thinning of the coat over the entire body.

  • Intense itchiness and scratching leading to fur removal.

  • Presence of dandruff, debris or scaly skin where fur is gone.

  • Loss of fur in specific patterns like circular areas.

  • Fur that regrows and is immediately groomed out again.

  • No signs of normal shedding first – fur loss happens abruptly.

  • Decreased appetite and activity levels due to stress of fur issues.

  • Rabbit seems unable to regrow fur in affected areas.

  • Young rabbits losing fur before 12 weeks old.

Seeing any of these signs means there is an underlying issue causing the abnormal molt. It's important to contact your vet for an accurate diagnosis and treatment. The problem will only get worse without medical care.

What Are the Causes Abnormal Fur Loss in Rabbits?

There are several common medical causes for abnormal fur loss in rabbits:

Parasite Problems

External and internal parasites can lead to irritating itchiness and damage to the skin and coat. Common culprits include:

  • Sarcoptic Mange – microscopic mites burrow into the skin causing intense itching, crusty skin and fur loss. Spread by contact with infected rabbits or environments.

  • Ear Canker – mite infestation inside the ears that spreads to the face and head. Causes crusty lesions and severe fur loss. Highly contagious.

  • Fur Mites – microscopic mites that feed on skin and oils. Leads to balding and itchy skin. Spread by contact.

  • Tropical Rat Mites – a parasite that causes patchy fur loss if rabbits live in close contact with rodents.

  • Burrowing Mange Mite – burrows deep in skin and is difficult to eradicate. Causes intense itch.

Ringworm Fungus

  • Ringworm infection of the skin leads to scaly, crusty round patches of fur loss. Spreads by contact with infected animals or environments.

Dental Problems

  • Malocclusion or molar spurs can cause a rabbit to excessively groom and pull out fur if their mouth hurts.

  • Abscesses and infections also cause discomfort and overgrooming.

Urine Burn

  • Urine scald from constantly wet fur leads to skin irritation and fur loss around the hindquarters. Typically seen in overweight/inactive rabbits.

Pododermatitis (Sore Hock)

  • Irritated, ulcerated skin on the feet from sitting in urine soaked bedding. Leads to overgrooming of feet and fur loss.

Bacterial Infection

  • Bacterial skin infection (dermatitis) causes crusting, pus and patchy fur loss.

False or Real Pregnancy

  • Hormonal changes may cause unspayed females to shed excessively.


  • Stress or anxiety can cause rabbits to over groom themselves leading to bald spots.

Fighting Among Rabbits

  • Fur may be pulled out from the rump area during aggressive fights between bonded rabbits.

Hormone Imbalance

  • Hypothyroidism or hyperadrenocorticism can disrupt the fur cycle leading to shedding and thin fur.

In summary, many different medical issues can cause abnormal fur loss in rabbits. Accurate diagnosis by a rabbit-savvy vet is needed to determine the cause and pursue treatment. Don't delay seeking care when fur loss is severe or advanced.



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