Yesterday I was at the shelter grooming two new rabbits that just came in and that reminded me that I haven't done any posts on grooming a rabbit! So here goes:
Yes Rabbits do need grooming. They need their fur to be brushed or clipped and their nails to be clipped regularly. Some rabbits may not be able to keep themselves clean and may require a bath once in a while.
Brushing a rabbit:
Rabbits need to be brushed regularly. Long haired rabbits need frequent brushing and even short haired rabbits should be brushed since rabbits shed a lot. Always use a gentle brush. Rabbits have very delicate skin. Special rubber tipped slicker brushes made for rabbits are probably the best. When you rabbit starts to shed and their fur takes over you can use a Furminator as long as you are gentle. You can also gently pull out the loose hairs.
Clipping a rabbit:
I have no experience clipping a rabbit. I know that Angora rabbits should be clipped regularly because their fur constantly grows. Typically most rabbit owners use special pet clippers rather than scissors.
Clipping a rabbit's nails:
This HAS to be done. I have seen rabbits that come in to the shelter with nails growing sideways and curling in a big circle. Usually I check Munchkin's nails every week. I usually only have to clip them every two to three weeks. Clipping a rabbits nails can be tricky. You need small but easy to use scissor-style clippers. Your rabbit may be mellow enough to just let you pick up their paw and start clipping away. If your rabbit gives you trouble you can try "trancing" them. This is when you place them on you lap on their backs. Only do this if you are confident that you can handle it. It generally makes them "play dead" and relax, but some rabbits might freak out. You can give it a try but if your rabbit doesn't like it don't do it. Munchkin, since he is pretty mellow doesn't mind at all and it makes it much easier to clip his nails. If your rabbit is really tricky, you can have someone hold them while you clip the nails, or you can take them to your vet and have them do it. Make sure you don't cut the qwik. That is the pink tissue inside the nail. If you can't see the qwik only clip a little at a time and stop immediately if you see blood or it hurts your rabbit. If you do cut the qwik you can use Qwik Stop found at pet stores or cornstarch to stop the bleeding.
Bathing a rabbit:
Only bathe your rabbit if the rabbit really needs it. Bathing is very stressful for rabbits and they groom themselves so generally they are very clean. If your rabbit is the exception however here are some bathing tips:
Use only warm water, do not use super hot or cold water
Only use shampoo specially made for rabbits
Dry your rabbit off thoroughly. You can use a hair dryer if it is on the cool or low setting.
Do not put a wet rabbit outside in cold weather! Rabbits take a very long time to dry off.