Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Freak Week 3.5: Angora Rabbits.

In looking over past Freak Weeks, one can see that dog, cat, and cow breeds dominate the pages. This is not because other domesticated animals do not have breeds, but rather because people have bred those animals into a greater number of freaky varieties. That's part of why I am broadening this week's "freakishness" - to give other animals bred in captivity more of a spotlight.

By the way? Bunnies are very good breeders. So are mice. Watch in awe and terror as your expectations of cute are perverted beyond your wildest dreams!

How fluffy do you like your bunnies?

Along with the Angora cat and goat, Angora rabbits (Oryctolagus cuniculus, for those curious) originated in Turkey. They are known for big, fluffy coats that make them look more like Easter bunny plushies than actual rabbits. They are most likely the oldest breed of rabbit in the world. Although they come in a variety of colors, the REW (ruby-eyed white; albino) is the favorite among breeders.

Angora rabbits were the first official breed of rabbit. Turkey had been breeding them for goodness knows how long before sharing them with other countries. They were first popularized by the French in the 1700's. They then proceeded to spread all over Europe, finally hitting the United States in the 1900's. Since then, they have become one of the most popular rabbit breeds around.

When fluffy becomes TOO fluffy.

Angora rabbit fur is so thick and fluffy that it can be woven into wool. They are usually shorn like sheep every three-four months. This excessive wool growth can lead to a condition called "wool block" - a hairball from hell that can form in Angora rabbit digestive tracts. Unlike other popular fur animals, rabbits usually do not produce many allergens. Give Angora rabbit sweaters a try if you happen to be allergic to sheep wool.

Rabbit breeds, including Angoras, have a registry. There are several subbreeds (that's a thing, trust me) and color variations of Angora, so if you like your rabbits fluffy like pom-poms and capable of giving you wool, you have a good variety to choose from. As you can imagine, the most maintenance you will do on this rabbit will involve grooming. It's about time somebody selectively bred bunnies; after all, they breed like rabbits.

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