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Jersey Wooly Rabbit – Feeding and Grooming
The digestive system of most rabbits is a lesson in delicacy, but with a few considerations, you can hedge your bets against common, and often dangerous, digestive disorders.
Rabbits rely on good bacteria in their stomachs to aid in the digestion of their food. Often changing one’s diet or adding new foods too quickly can upset this delicate balance and cause serious problems. Add new foods for a week or so. If you want or need to change your brand of food, combine the new with the old in increasing proportions over the same period of time.
Jersey Wooly Feeding Requirements
As a dwarf breed, mature Woolies only need about 1 ounce of food for every 1 pound of weight, per day. If you have a pregnant or nursing woman, however, or a baby under four months old, allow them as much as they will eat. This will provide the extra calories and nutrients they need.
Pet rabbits do very well on a diet that is 16-18% protein, at least 16% fiber, and 2-3% fat. Take time to check labels and find a suitable brand, and buy only what will be consumed in four to five weeks. The high humidity in rabbit food means it can mold and spoil, which will make your bunny sick.
In addition to good quality food, your bunny’s main diet will consist of a constant supply of fresh water, which rabbits cannot absorb from their food, and a constant supply of timothy hay. Wools are more prone to a life-threatening condition known as wool block; clogging of hair in the digestive tract. The constant supply of fresh hay helps reduce this possibility and allows for all-day nibbling.
Special treats can be used to reinforce cooperative training, supplement a daily diet, or simply say, “I love you.” Kitchen scraps work well here, but food close to spoilage is better for the compost pile than your bunny’s tummy. Be sure to remove any pits or seeds.
Do not feed your rabbit litter. Lettuce contains lactucarium, which can cause dangerously severe diarrhea. Diarrhea can kill a rabbit. You should also avoid cabbage, rutabaga, parsnips, potato tops and tomato leaves.
Jersey Woolies were created as a cross between the Netherland Dwarf and French Angora. Wooly’s coat has a higher ratio of guard hairs, however, making it much easier to maintain than Angora, and can still be used as a textile.
Clean their enclosures regularly to keep them free of feces. This goes a long way to making toileting easier. Urine stains, also called “hutch stains” are sometimes unavoidable. Some home remedies include lemon juice and water, vinegar and water, or baking soda and water. These solutions should only be used directly on the stains. Never submerge your rabbit in water as this can cause shock.
Start your grooming sessions with a high powered blow dryer set to ‘cool’, or a small, clean shop vac set to ‘blow’. This will blow away dirt and dust and fluff the coat. Use the blower only for short periods to begin with, giving your bunny treats for its cooperation. Be careful not to blow directly into the ears, eyes, nose or mouth. Start at the butt and work your way down the back and sides.
Using a smoother brush afterwards will remove mats, pull out loose fur, stimulate the skin and add shine to your rabbit’s coat. Slicker brushes come in many sizes and styles. Look for one specifically designed for bunnies. Again, start at the tail. You can turn your bunny on your lap to make its underside.
As you gently handle your rabbit, check its eyes, ears and bottom for signs of irritation. Also check the nails and teeth, both of which can become overgrown and require trimming. If left untreated, overgrown teeth, known as malocclusion, can cause your rabbit to stop eating.
Maturity and Moltation
As your Wooly matures, it will go through several stages of molting, starting around the eyes, nose and base of the ears. Some rabbits become completely bald, resulting in what is called “Michigan hairless”. Shed coats can be mixed with other fibers and made into felt or spun into yarn for use in crafts. With Jersey Woolies, you can, quite literally, have your bunny and wear it too. New coats usually come pretty quickly.
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