The Jersey wooly is one of the newer breeds of rabbit. Developed in the early 1980s by Bonnie Seeley in New Jersey, the Jersey wooly is a small rabbit with an easy-care coat.
The Jersey wooly was developed by crossing the Netherland dwarf and the French angora. The result of this cross was an ideal small pet rabbit with a beautiful very easy-to-care-for coat. This is now a popular pet breed and comes in a variety of colors.
The Jersey wooly typically weighs less than 3.5 pounds. The ears are small and erect, standing about 2 to 3 inches in height. The head is bold and the body wooly.
Despite its small size, this rabbit has lots of hair. The abundance of guard hairs lies over a crimped undercoat creating a dense hair coat. The side trimmings on the head have longer hair than the body. This long hair runs along the jawline. From the ears forward, the wool is short.
First introduced to the public in 1984, the Jersey wooly was accepted as a recognized breed by the American Rabbit Breeders Association in 1988.
Commercial rabbit pellets are recommended. Feed 1/4 cup of pellets per 5 pounds of body weight every day. For rabbits under 8 months of age, feed unlimited plain alfalfa pellets. Fresh rinsed greens, vegetables, and fruit, as well as grains and hay, can then be given as supplements. Free choice hay, such as timothy, should always be available and changed daily. Alfalfa hay should not be offered free choice to rabbits over 8 months of age because it is too rich in calcium.
Many rabbits do very well in the home. They can be litter box trained and are quite fastidious groomers. Be aware that rabbits love to chew so make sure all wires are safely hidden or in protective plastic covers and understand that some of your furniture may be nibbled. If you choose to cage your rabbit, make sure the cage is at least 2 feet by 2 feet by 4 feet. If the cage has a wire bottom make certain you give the rabbit a plank or sea grass mats to stand on so his feet won’t get damaged from being on the wire all the time. Provide a hide box or shelter and plenty of straw for bedding.
As with other rabbits, Jersey woolies do not do well in high or low temperatures. They are prone to hairball obstructions and matted coats if not cared for properly. Rabbits need daily grooming to remove loose hair. Other health concerns include earmites, Pasteurella, respiratory disease, dental problems, urinary bladder stones and fractured backs. Be quick to notice any changes in diet or litter box habits and contact a rabbit veterinarian immediately.
The average life span of a breeding Jersey wooly rabbit is 5 to 6 years. By spaying or neutering early in life, you can increase their life expectancy to around 10 years.