If you’ve considered getting a rabbit and have been drawn to the fluffy, cute appearance of the large French Angora, there are a lot of things you need to know before bringing one home.
French Angoras can be a fun and attractive addition to your family, but they require a significant amount of care and grooming. If you’re thinking of getting a French Angora, here are the basics of what you need to know!
Quick Facts about French Angora Rabbits
|Species Name:||Oryctolagus cuniculus|
|Color Form:||Self, broken, shaded, pointed white, agouti, ticked, wide band|
|Diet:||Hay, pellets, fresh foods|
|Minimum Cage Size:||24”x24”|
|Enclosure:||Indoor, cage or pen; Outdoor, raised hutch|
French Angora Rabbits Overview
If you’ve ever been to a rabbit show, you’ve likely seen the instantly recognizable French Angora with its fluffy body and far less fluffy head. French Angoras are the second largest breed of rabbit and are bred to be kept as pets, for showing, or for their wool. Their laid-back nature and unique coat make them highly sought after for showing and breeding. Many people find these qualities attractive as a pet, but there are specific needs French Angoras have that make them not suitable for many pet homes.
French Angoras produce approximately a pound of wool annually that can be used for felting or spinning. It is sought after for its intense softness and strength. This wool coat makes these rabbits tolerant of cool temperatures, but they are intolerant of heat and cold, so care should be taken in outdoor enclosures during extreme temperatures.
These rabbits are known for their docile and social nature, making them a good choice for pet homes that are able and willing to keep up with their grooming needs. They are best kept in individual enclosures but may get along with other small animals under supervision.
How Much Do French Angora Rabbits Cost?
French Angoras can cost anywhere from about $20-250, but this cost is going to vary based on your area. Much like purebred dogs, show-quality rabbits are going to sell for a higher price than pet-quality rabbits.
You may luck into finding a free French Angora on your nearby marketplace and pet finding websites. Many people underestimate the level of care and grooming these rabbits require and are willing to give them away or sell them for a low price just to get the rabbit off their hands.
Typical Behavior & Temperament
French Angoras are known for their docile, calm demeanor and social nature. Like most rabbits, they need to be desensitized to handling and will become less frightened and more social the more they are handled. These rabbits are happy to wander around a pen or home and socialized French Angoras may seek out attention from people.
Appearance & Varieties
French Angora rabbits are distinguishable by their extremely fluffy bodies. Their coat consists of a slightly coarse undercoat with soft, fluffy hairs throughout. Their bodies are much fluffier than their heads, and sometimes their ears are tipped with fluffy ear furnishings, but this is considered an undesirable trait by breeders.
The American Rabbit Breeders Association, or ARBA, recognizes the following coat varieties of French Angoras:
- Agouti: This is the brown color you see in wild rabbits. It is interspersed with small bands of black, tan, fawn, and blue.
- Broken: This is a color pattern involving a mostly white body with splotches of another color.
- Pointed White: These rabbits are white with different colored muzzle, feet, and ears.
- Self: Self-colored indicates the rabbit is one solid color all over.
- Shaded: These rabbits have lighter colored bodies with darker colored ears, head, feet, and tail.
- Ticked: This indicates a solid-colored body with tipped or solid guard hairs of a different color interspersed across the body.
- Wide Band: This coloration is like agouti, but the hairs are not tipped with the dark color like they are in agoutis.
How to Take Care of French Angora Rabbits
Habitat, Tank Conditions & Setup
At a minimum, these rabbits can be kept in a 24”x24” enclosure, 36”x36” or larger is preferred. It’s best to have a cage with enough floor space for your rabbit to stay out of their litter box and not have to sit in waste. Wire grates can help with this but can cause skin irritation over time. Outdoor hutches should be raised and provide shelter from the elements.
Safe spaces outside of your rabbit’s enclosure are necessary for stimulation and socialization. Some French Angoras will happily wander rooms or entire homes and are equally happy exploring the outdoors. Indoor spaces need to be safe from other pets and dangerous items like electrical cords the rabbit may gnaw on. Outdoor spaces should be well-protected from other animals, including predatory birds, and dangerous chemicals and tools.
French Angoras can be litter box trained, making cage cleanup much easier. Some will prefer to use a litter box while others will prefer a specific corner of their cage. A litter box is a good idea to help decrease waste that may get stuck to your rabbit. A litter box with a grate may help significantly decrease waste on your rabbit.
French Angoras need low-dust, absorbent bedding that will keep urine from accumulating in their coat. Fiber-based bedding is a good option, as well as corn-based bedding. Products high in dust can be dangerously irritating to a rabbit’s respiratory system, so products like clay cat litter, while absorbent, are not a good option for rabbits.
These rabbits can be trained to use a litter box, but this box can be filled with the same product used for bedding or a product made specifically for small animal litter boxes. This will be up to your rabbit’s preference.
French Angoras should be kept between 50-75°F, even in outdoor enclosures. In cold weather, they need shelter from snow and wind with a warm place to stay. In warmer weather, frozen treats, ice water, fans, and terracotta shelters can all provide relief from the heat.
Natural lighting is adequate for these rabbits. They do not require additional cage lighting.
Do French Angora Rabbits Get Along with Other Pets?
French Angoras may get along with small animals, like other rabbits and guinea pigs. They may fight if caged with another rabbit unless they’re a bonded pair.
Slow introductions are a must, including letting both animals sniff around an area where the other has been. It’s best to supervise all time spent with other animals.
While some dogs and cats may be gentle with small animals, this can be risky since rabbits are a prey species. Small animals may bring out a prey drive in predators, even in dogs and cats you’ve never seen prey drive in before. If you do introduce your rabbit to your dog or cat, you should be within arm’s reach in case an issue arises. A dog or cat can seriously injure a rabbit very quickly.
What to Feed Your French Angora Rabbits
French Angoras require up to 80% of their diet to be hay, grass, or other roughage. These rabbits are at risk for wool block, which is where the intestines become blocked by wool accidentally consumed during grooming. Timothy hay is best for adult rabbits and they should always have access to fresh timothy hay. They can also have fresh foods like arugula, broccoli, cabbage, kale, romaine, spinach, apples, peaches, and melons.
Due to the constant wool production, French Angoras need a higher protein pellet diet, especially if you plan to raise them for wool. You may have to purchase “pro”, “ultimate”, or “performance” rabbit food. Larger rabbits will need up to 1 cup of pellets daily. Pellets should not be overfed as they are richer than hay and fresh foods and can lead to obesity.
Keeping Your French Angora Rabbits Healthy
Most veterinarians who care for exotics will care for rabbits, as well as many agricultural vets. When you first bring your rabbit home, getting them to a vet for a health check should be at the top of your to-do list. Rabbits can get mites and fungal infections like ringworm, so keep an eye out for itching and hair loss.
Ensure your French Angora gets plenty of fiber in their diet to prevent wool block. Brushing every day or two will reduce loose wool your rabbit may accidentally swallow from grooming. French Angoras need regular brushing, spot baths, and general coat maintenance to prevent infections and mats. Rabbits have sensitive skin and mats, urine, feces, and general poor grooming can cause them discomfort or medical problems.
Significant research should be put into breeding your French Angoras. There are specific traits to breed for and others to avoid. You will need to understand what coat types and colors certain matches will produce. Checking with an experienced, responsible breeder before breeding your rabbits will give you the best information.
French Angoras are old enough to begin breeding between 6-9 months of age and can safely be bred a couple of times per year, although they can be difficult to get to breed. Overbreeding will lead to coat and health problems for the mother. Allow the male and female, also called a buck and doe, a couple of opportunities to breed to increase the chances of a pregnancy. They should be separated after breeding and bucks should not be present during and after birth. Does are pregnant for 28-31 days.
French Angoras will need a comfortable birthing area with nesting material. You can check on the doe, but it’s best to leave her alone to reduce stress unless there is a problem. Trimming the doe’s hair a little before pregnancy and labor can help prevent mats and skin infections from birthing fluids and urine from the doe and the bunnies.
Are French Angora Rabbits Suitable For You?
French Angoras are wonderful, beautiful rabbits with great personalities. They also require a lot of responsibility and time for grooming and maintenance. These rabbits are not a good option as pets for children unless they are older and experienced in rabbit care. They are not a good starter rabbit for children or adults, so this should be considered before bringing one home.
If you decide to bring home a French Angora and you’re willing to give them the care they need, you will likely be rewarded with a peaceful, social friend. If you’re interested in showing rabbits, French Angoras are always a crowd-pleaser between their calm demeanor, full coat, and fluffy ear tips. With the right care, French Angoras could be a wonderful addition to your home.
Featured image credit: Zanna Pesnina, Shutterstock