The National Angora Club had stands at two craft festivals in July and August this year. Fibre-East took place at Redbourne School, Ampthill, Bedford on 27th July, after a very hot week. Thankfully the temperature dropped so it was safe to bring Cheyenne, the Smoke Angora.
Anne demonstrated spinning pure Angora on the wheel, whilst Lesley taught spindle spinning.
It must be understood that this is a completely natural process in the rabbit, whereby part of the food intake is re-ingested, and goes through the digestive channels for a second time. There are two types of droppings; hard, dry glossy, round pure waste ones, that are passed regularly throughout the day; and the small soft dark faeces (called caecotrophs) that are formed in clusters, and enclosed in a coating of gel mucus. These caecotrophs are taken direct from the anus and swallowed whole; consequently, wire floors do not interfere with this action. Re-ingestion occurs mostly at night, unobserved. Caecotrophy is a vital function in the rabbits complicated digestive system.
Deprivation of these caecotrophs will cause diminished health. The owner has reason to be slightly worried if groups of these are found on the hutch floor in the mornings. It can occur in an obese animal, or , for any reason that prevents the rabbit being able to sit up, and bend its head right down between the hind legs in order to reach the anus. There can be an excess of caecotrophs if the diet is too high in protein, carbohydrates and sugar; the remedy is to cut down on the over rich feed, and to introduce a high fibre diet with plenty of hay; a small amount of green food; a slice of apple daily; and a restricted measured amount of pellet / corn / mix.
Angora rabbits can get ill and one illness to be aware of is Encephalitozoon Cuniculi. It is common and 52% of healthy domestic rabbits have it. They are not sure currently if it is a fungi or protozoa. Spores are passed through urine and can affect the nervous system and kidneys. In a post mortem the kidneys have walled off appearances with white spots.
The main symptoms include cataracts, head tilt, off food, lethargic, renal failure, seizures and blood in urine.
This problem is also a risk to immunocompromised humans.
If this is suspected them the environment will need disinfecting and the rabbit treated with an anti-inflamatory such as Meloxican and 28 days on Panacur.
Ensure you check your angora rabbits teeth regularly and a good time to do this is every time you clip them. Teeth troubles are very common and if left untreated can cause your angora discomfort and potentially more harmful complaints.
Key symptoms of teeth problems include drooling, weight loss, eating greens on one side of the mouth. Overgrown front teeth may indicate bad back teeth too. If the back teeth grow very quickly this can lead to significant discomfort for your Angora and needs to be addressed quickly.
Angora rabbits needs to eat hay or grass for the correct wear of molars so it is important to ensure a balanced diet and always provide access to hay. If they are not keen on hay try dust free hay or dried readigrass. It can be useful to provide them with other forms of fibre to gnaw on like apple branches if their teeth grow very quickly.
Rabbits need sunlight also to stop calcium leaching from bones as in just 2 weeks without natural light, up to 40% bone density can be lost, usually from jaws first, making them soft and liable to teeth problems.
The best way to identify a serious issue is with a CT scan as a normal oral exam will not see beneath the gum line.
Snuffles or respiratory problems may be secondary to dental issues but a white discharge or runny eye may be caused by teeth (often incisors) growing through the upper jaw to block tear duct drain.
This years woolfest was a great success and the National Angora Club was there with a whole range of natural Angora rabbit products from their members. A few images below of the stand and a thank you to Leslie and Sandra for all their work on the stand.
You will need to take extra care this summer with your Angora rabbits due to the continued good weather we are having in parts of the UK. High summer temperatures can cause severe dehydration, over heating and health problems for animals especially woolly ones.
Top 10 approaches to keeping your Angora rabbits cool in hot weather:
Clip them to remove the large long coats
Use frozen bottles of water or frozen pads so they can sit by them to cool down
Hang a wet towel in front of their cage or cover part of the hutch with a wet towel
Ensure they are in a shaded location or add additional shade netting to the area and if necessary move hutches into the shade area if possible
Ensure good ventilation and use additional fans to aid with moving air if possible
Put them in larger more open cages
Reduce the bedding down
Provide a cooler surface for them to lie on like wire
Provide more water bottles and you could put a ceramic bowl in as well
Refresh water bottles with cold water throughout the day