Fiber Spotlight > Angora Rabbit
The exact origins of Angora rabbits are unknown, but it has been written that they were first bred by the Trelicians in the southern Carpathian mountains around the 6th century. The first mention of their appearance in western Europe is under the name of “English Silk Hare” during the rein of King Henry VIII; laws carrying severe penalties for their export to other countries existed at that time. They were popular pets with French royalty in the mid-18th century and spread to other parts of Europe by the end of that century. They first appeared in the United States in the early 20th century.
Prized for its long, silky-soft coat, the Angora rabbit must be groomed every 10—14 weeks by clipping, combing or pulling by hand; no harm is caused to the rabbit. Angora fiber is finely textured and approximately eight times warmer than sheep’s wool. The fibers are hollow, giving them superior insulating properties, loft and the characteristic “Angora halo”. It is exceptionally comfortable to wear next to the skin and especially suited for baby garments. This fiber is one of the most elegant and sought-after around the world.
Luxurious Angora fiber may be blended with other soft fibers such as alpaca, merino, silk, llama and cashmere. Known for its ability retain dye color, it may be hand-dyed or left in its natural color.
Many individual breed of Angoras exist, with four recognized by the American Rabbit Breeders Association: English, French, Giant and Satin.
English is the smallest of these, weighing 5 to 7 pounds, and is the only one with hair covering its eyes.
French is one of the largest breeds at 7.5 to 10 pounds; its fiber has a greater amount of guard hair compared to other breeds.
Giant is the largest (9.5 to 10 or more pounds; it produces more fiber than the other breeds.
Satin (6.5 to 9.5 pounds) is named for the high sheen created by a semi-transparent outer hair shaft that reflects light and results in a deep color and luster.
Also popular is the German Angora rabbit. Breed standards are established by The International Association of German Angora Rabbit Breeds. Weighing 4.5 to 12 pounds, the German is known for high fiber yields.
Angora rabbits can make excellent pets. They may be kept indoors or outside, if protected from drafts, temperature extremes and predators. Active, playful and sociable, they enjoy the attention of their owners as well as the companionship of other rabbits and family pets. Angoras have even been known to cozy up to a friendly kitty!