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You may be alarmed if you notice your pet rabbit pulling out her fur, but it's not necessarily a cause for concern. Hair pulling in rabbits is a normal behavior for does during pregnancy or false pregnancy. However, other causes exist and can be more serious. If you're unsure why your bunny is exhibiting this behavior or you think it could be a sign she's unwell, take her to see a veterinarian right away.
A pregnant rabbit generally displays nesting behaviors. She looks for any and all suitable material that she can use to line her nest, and this often includes her own hair. If you notice your rabbit pulling out fur from her belly, sides and chest, then run off and put it into a nest that she has created, there is a likelihood that she's pregnant. Hormones cause the fur in these areas to loosen, so she's probably not causing herself much discomfort. However, look out for any broken skin, as it could become infected.
If your rabbit is kept alone, with another doe or with a castrated buck, then she's clearly not pregnant. However, she could be experiencing a false pregnancy. This is fairly common in female bunnies who haven't been spayed, as the release of an ova which doesn't get fertilized can lead to hormonal changes that simulate pregnancy. Should your pet experience a false pregnancy, it's advisable to get her spayed to avoid this happening again. Spaying also reduces the likelihood of her getting certain types of cancer, so it's a good idea anyway.
Rabbits can pull out some of their hair during grooming. This is usually normal, especially during periods of shedding. However, if you notice your bunny pulling out excessive amounts of hair or giving herself bald patches, then she may be overgrooming. This is often a sign of boredom, which can be remedied by providing more stimulation. Buy her some new toys and make sure you interact with her frequently. She should also have some time each day outside of her hutch or cage.
Other Causes of Fur Pulling or Loss
A bunny who is pregnant or experiencing a false pregnancy will only pull fur from her chest, stomach and sides. If your rabbit is male, or is pulling or chewing hair from the entire body then it's probably caused by another factor. This could be down to stress, parasites, overcrowding or hormonal changes. Take your pet to a specialist small animal veterinarian to determine the cause. If your bunny is ingesting her own hair, she may be getting improper nutrition. Again, you should see a vet under these circumstances and put a plan in place to ensure she gets a balanced diet.
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