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Angora rabbits have long been the pets of kings and emperors. They are believed to have originated in Turkey and were bred by the French nobility.
Angora rabbits are known by 4 general breeds. Each breed has a slightly different type of fur quality. English Angoras have very fluffy ears, called furnishings. The fur is quite fine and has very little guard hair.
The French Angora fur contains quite a bit of guard hair. However this doesn’t have to be removed before spinning as it gives the finished yarn a very fluffy and “spikey” quality.
The German Angora was developed through selective breeding, resulting in a rabbit with very high fur yields. Its fur is strong enough for commercial processing.
The Satin Angora has a medium length body. It’s wool is very shiny and covers the body, except for the head and ears. They are good-natured and make great pets.
Angora rabbits come in many colours, from pure white, peachey cream to black.
Angora rabbits shed their fur naturally. They grow 3 to 4 layers of fur and shed these every few months. Depending on weather and other environmental conditions, they may shed just the outer longer layer or they may shed it all, leaving only pink skin. The loose fur can be removed by brushing or gently plucking or clipping with scissors or shears.
Because the angora rabbit has been specially bred for its long fur for many centuries, they would not survive for long in the wild. Their fur would get tangled in the underbrush, making them easy prey for predators. Their long coat also makes them prone to woolblock, a condition where the shedding fur is ingested by the rabbit, making the bunny quite ill. Once they begin to molt, the angora rabbit will try to remove the fur himself. This is why angora rabbits must be plucked regularly. The plucking or pulling the fibre from the rabbit does not hurt – as you begin to pull, the fur naturally loosens from the skin and comes off easily. Yes, the bunny will look like he totally bare and does not harm the animal – the fur grows back very quickly.
Angora fiber is hollow, giving it insulating properties. Because it is about seven times warmer than sheep’s wool, it is usually blended with other fibers, such as wool or silk. Angora fiber is quite clean, so it can be spun almost directly from the rabbit. A bit of hand teasing may be required to straighten the fibers before spinning. The yarn is washed after spinning. It can also be carded with wool and then spun. Core spinning is another good method for spinning angora.
Angora rabbits are loved for their exceptional fur and also for their personalities. They make excellent pets and can be litterbox trained. Life with a rabbit can be amusing.
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