What do you call something that is small, woolly, and has a square-shaped bold head? The Jersey Wooly Rabbit aka ‘Mug Head’
This rabbit breed is sometimes referred to as:
- The Jersey Wooly,
- The Mug Head Rabbit,
- The Mug-head Bunny,
- The ‘No-Kick’ Rabbit,
- The ‘No-Kick’ Bunny,
- The Woolly Bunny
- or The Fluff of Fancy
The Jersey Wooly Rabbit is a simply adorable ‘little ball of fluffy wool’ that loves cuddles. It is a dwarf breed rabbit from New Jersey, in the United States, that has a super soft woolly coat on a compact little body.
A Jersey Wooly rabbit is gentle and sweet-natured and loves to play. It was originally bred as a small fancy breed of domestic rabbit; a popular show rabbit with its petite size, beautiful long wool-type fur, and an oblong shape like the French Angora, and cute little erect ears.
Baby Jersey Wooly Rabbits are friendly, docile, and like attention so will make wonderful pet rabbits for anyone; even first-time rabbit owners.
A brief history of the Jersey Wooly: a domestic rabbit breed
It is believed that all domestic rabbit breeds came from a single species; the European Wild Rabbit. Domestic rabbits only appeared in the United States in the early 1900s.
The Jersey Wooly rabbit was developed by an American rabbit breeder, Bonnie Seeley of High Bridge, New Jersey, in the United States, around the beginning of the 1980s. Bonnie Seeley developed the Jersey Wooly rabbit breed, in New Jersey, by crossing a Netherland Dwarf Rabbit with a French Angora rabbit.
The resulting crossbreed offspring was a dwarf rabbit.
It inherited its dwarf size and compact body shape from the Netherland Dwarf rabbit parent, and its oblong and soft angora wool coat, with long fur, from its French Angora rabbit parent.
It was named the Jersey Wooly rabbit after its place of origin and its type of woolly coat, by the rabbit breeder, Bonnie Seeley of High Bridge, New Jersey who successfully developed it.
What happened next?
Bonnie Seeley first introduced this new breed of rabbit at the 1984 American Rabbit Breeders Association (ARBA) Convention in Orlando, Florida.
Her Jersey Wooly rabbit was recognized as one of the new breeds of rabbit by the American Rabbit Breeders Association (ARBA), and four years later, in 1988 the Standard was published, The ARBA publishes its breed standards in a guide called the Standard of Perfection.
The Jersey Wooly rabbit quickly became a popular show rabbit and a regular competitor and exhibitor, and winner, at the ARBA conventions and a variety of other National and Local rabbit shows across America.
Other National and Regional Jersey Wooly rabbit clubs
The interests of the Jersey Wooly rabbit breed has been represented by other rabbit associations and rabbit clubs, for rabbit breeders in the United States, but the breed must conform to strict ARBA standards to be able to participate in specific rabbit shows.
Other representation for the Jersey Wooly rabbit includes:
- The National Jersey Wooly Rabbit Club (National Club)
- The Great Lakes Jersey Wooly Fanciers Club (Regional Club)
- The Ohio Jersey Wooly Rabbit Club (Regional Club)
- The Wooly Lovers of Texas Club (Statewide Club)
- The American Rabbit Breeders Association (ARBA) allows for the Jersey Wooly rabbit, a small rabbit breed to be shown in a variety of colors: either in a solid color or broken patterns of color.
The range of recognized colors and patterns can be grouped into six distinct color categories:
- The Agouti Category – includes Chestnut, Opal, Chinchilla, and Squirrel colors
- The Broken Category – includes any recognized variety in conjunction with White
- The Self Category – includes Black, Blue, Lilac, Chocolate, BEW (blue-eyed-white), and REW (red-eyed-white)
- The Shaded Category – includes Tortoise-shell, Blue tortoise-shell, Smoke Pearl, Sable point, Seal and Siamese sable
- The Tan Pattern Category – includes Black otter, Blue otter, Black silver marten, Smoke pearl marten, Blue silver marten, Lilac silver marten, Chocolate silver marten, and Sable marten
- The AOV Category (any other variety) – includes Pointed white black and the Pointed white blue variety
The Jersey Wooly breed of rabbits is not listed as a breed at risk of extinction according to the American Livestock Breeds Conservancy watch list.
The Jersey Wooly rabbit: What does it look like?
The Jersey Wooly is a dwarf breed of rabbit with a compact body shape and a square-shaped head and small erect ears.
FACT: Rabbits can be classified into various different categories. One category is Body type. There are 5 body types:
- Commercial – Californians, New Zealand, Palomino, French Lop, Rex, French Angora
- Full Arch – English Spot, Checkered Giant, Belgian Hare, Tan Rabbit
- Semi-Arch – American, Beveren, Flemish Giant, English Lop, Giant Chinchilla
- Compact – Netherland Dwarf, Holland Lop, Mini Rex, American Fuzzy Lop, Mini Lop, English Angora, Jersey Wooly
- Cylindrical – Himalayans
What are the main characteristics of a Jersey Wooly rabbit?
The Jersey Wooly rabbit is a dwarf rabbit, not a normal breed of rabbit. It can be friendly and docile, or highly active and playful.
One of the most widely exhibited rabbits at shows in the United States as a regular prize winner, and a favorite as a lovable pet rabbit. It is affectionate and playful ranging from being a curious explorer to a laid-back lap rabbit.
This rabbit breed is not known to be aggressive; aggression in a domestic rabbit can be a sign of an underlying health problem or injury.
They became a popular fancy breed rabbit in America for their beautiful and unusual long floppy ears and soft fur. The Jersey Wooly rabbit breed earned itself the title of the ‘Fluff of Fancy’ as a regular rabbit shows prize winner.
Intelligence and trainability:
It’s quite intelligent and biddable. It can be taught to recognize its name and come for food when called.
It’s laid-back, affectionate, and enjoys interaction as well as relaxing. It needs socialization and handling experience early if it’s to become a family pet or a fancier’s show rabbit.
Today they are mainly bred as show rabbits or home rabbits and make docile companions. They suit indoor conditions, are easy to look after, intelligent, and would even suit first-time rabbit owners. They love to be stroked and will just sit on your lap as your loving companion.
This is a docile and sociable breed of rabbit, known as the no-kick rabbit because they’re non-aggressive and do not bite or kick their handlers or children.
They are most active and alert around daybreak and sunset and if allowed to run loose in the house with follow you around and investigate new things. Remember to keep all dangerous cables and wires out of rabbit reach, as rabbits like to chew things and dig!
They should also be able to run around outside safely in a secure area away from other animals or possible predators. Outdoor fun will provide fresh air and some sunlight with makes for a healthy life.
Physical Characteristics of the Jersey Wooly rabbit breed
Size: small (Dwarf) size
Weight: 1-3lb (kg)
Life expectancy: 7-10 years
FACT: The belief that having a litter can negatively affect the health of a Jersey Wooly rabbit has not been proved scientifically. Examples exist of healthy Jersey Woolies that have had multiple litters and examples of unhealthy Jersey Woolies that have had no litters.
Spaying or neutering and proper healthcare can expand their life expectancy.
Coat color: solid or broken pattern in a wide range of colors.
Coat type: A long and soft, angora feel woolly coat
It is not hypoallergenic; there is no such thing as a hypoallergenic rabbit.
Ears: Short erect ears that are 2-3 inches long
Temperament: This dwarf rabbit is a laid-back and easy-going rabbit, which makes it an ideal show rabbit or pet rabbit.
Types of training required:
1) Crate –Jersey Wooly rabbits only need a small-sized hutch or cage to live in. It is important to get your rabbit used to going into its hutch as it will become its nest and it will sleep there and just hang out in there to relax.
You will have to lock the hutch in the early days so it knows it is supposed to live, sleep and go to the toilet in there.
This rabbit is better suited to indoor living with free run-around time.
2) Potty training – This rabbit is quite easy to potty train, if you start early and take the rabbit and its droppings back to the cage or hutch each time and put the droppings on the litter shavings, or in a litter box, so it will recognize the place to go by odor and habit.
FACT: A Rabbit may produce slightly softer-type stools overnight and it will then eat these nutrient-rich stools, from its litterbox in the morning to help digestion. This is not pleasant to watch but it is perfectly normal.
Any hutch or cage should be cleaned out at least once a week, with its litterbox shavings and hay replaced regularly and fresh food and clean water provided daily.
3) Walking on a leash – believe it or not, you can actually buy rabbit leashes and teach your rabbit to go for a walk with you. Not too far though with a small rabbit.
Health problems and health issues
This small breed of rabbit is generally healthy and has a life expectancy of 7-10 years; but still needs to be health checked to prevent:
Flystrike – Flystrike (also known as Myiasis) occurs when a fly lands on a rabbit’s skin and lays their eggs in the rabbit’s skin (usually around a dirty bottom, wet fur, or a wound).
These eggs hatch quickly and the maggots then chew their way into the rabbit’s skin. This can happen within hours and become fatal.
Spaying or neutering – Jersey Wooly rabbits should be neutered or spayed early, at 4-6 months, if decided to do so.
It is recommended as un-spayed rabbits have a higher chance of developing some life-threatening reproductive system tumors and cancers it can also make their calmer and curb behavioral issues.
Head tilt – Head tilt is where the rabbit’s head flops or tilts over to one side, this can be the result of injury, illness, cancer, or a stroke or infection build-up, bacterial, or an infestation. This is serious and needs a Vet to investigate the cause.
Overgrown Teeth– A rabbit’s teeth never stop growing so it is very important that it has enough hay to gnaw on. 70% of the rabbit’s food intake should come from hay. Chewing hay will help prevent teeth from over-growing.
Overgrown teeth can grow into their jaws and face, which is both painful and prevents them from eating properly. Overgrown teeth must be filed down by a Vet.
Wool Block – is caused by wool building up inside the rabbit’s stomach when it grooms itself, to keep clean, by licking its fur. They do this regularly, but as rabbits cannot regurgitate any of the wool that is swallowed it will stay in its digestive tract until it can be passed out in the stools.
If it is not passed it can build-up and cause a blockage – known as ‘Wool block’. Wool block can lead to a loss of appetite and eventual starvation.
Jersey Wooly rabbits don’t’ suffer this as much as other thick-coated wool rabbits, such as Angora rabbits, but they still need to be brushed regularly to remove any loose hair which could otherwise be consumed during grooming.
Bladder Problems – Rabbits, unlike most other animals, absorb all the calcium from their diets and get rid of it through their bladders. This build-up of calcium is known as ‘bladder sludge’. The effect can be the development of bladder stones (made up of calcium), which are very painful. If detected early they can be removed by a vet, or provided with antibiotics if the bladder is infected.
A rabbit’s diet must be balanced to avoid too much calcium-rich food.
Respiratory Tract Disorders – Jersey Wooly rabbits can have breathing problems as they have very small mouths and their sinuses are very close to their upper teeth. If there is any inflammation around their teeth or gums they can suffer from sinus infections.
Other respiratory problems include snuffles, from bacteria causing a runny nose, rapid breathing, coughing, and eye discharge. It’s contagious to other rabbits and requires antibiotics to clear the infection.
Caring for a Jersey Wooly rabbits – what’s needed?
It is important to consider many factors to make sure your Jersey Wooly has a healthy life and a good quality lifestyle too.
Rabbits are herbivorous, so, their diet should consist of hay, vegetables, pellets, and a little fruit, but no meat or dairy! Feed as a small-sized rabbit. 70% of a rabbit’s food intake should be from hay, the rest should be good quality formulated quality pellets.
The amount you should feed your rabbit will depend on its weight and energy level; add some leafy green vegetables into the diet too, to ensure the rabbit has a healthy life from its nutrition-rich diet. Do not give your rabbit iceberg lettuce as it has too much Lanandum which can be dangerous to eat or sugary foods!
Rabbits need access to lots of clean water.
Check out our guide on what rabbits can eat.
A Jersey Wooly rabbit has long fur, that’s woolly, yet its low maintenance and only needs to be brushed once a week It will lick its own paws and clean its face and ears thoroughly. Rabbits are by nature very clean animals.
FACT: When a rabbit rubs its face and whiskers for you to see it means it feels at home where it is.
Check around the rabbit’s bottom regularly to make sure it has does not have flystrike evidence.
Tick and flea repellents are available for rabbits that mainly live outside to protect it against bites. There are a variety of soft and wire hair-brushes which will help keep your bunny’s shed under control. (Best check out what’s recommended on Google or Amazon or Wikipedia for further facts.)
Remember, do not bathe a rabbit, it’s too stressful for them. They will self-clean their fur.
Cleaning teeth, nails, and ears
Rabbits’ ears control their body temperature and should be protected from, dirt build-up which could lead to ear infections or even a build-up of wax.
Check their teeth to prevent over-growth, and provide rough food and safe toys to chew and play with.
Toenails grow quickly and need trimming regularly A Rabbit’s toenails should not be trimmed past where the white end of the nail meets the pink part!
What’s life like for a Jersey Wooly rabbit?
A rabbit is now considered the third most popular domestic pet, after cats and dogs. A Jersey Wooly rabbit will engage with those it knows, but as it is docile it will also need to be stimulated with some out-of-hutch time.
Play and cuddle time
It’s curious and will like to play with homemade toys like the empty toilet paper cardboard rolls stuffed with hay or paper, a hardwood block, or challenging rabbit-safe toys from a pet store
A Jersey Wooly rabbit is an indoor pet, it is affectionate and likes to be handled and stroked.
Its small size means needs a smaller size hutch, but you must ensure it has enough space in its cage to stretch out completely, and not catch its long fur on any part of the hutch materials.
The recommended size of a rabbit cage for a Jersey Wooly Adult rabbit is a minimum size of:
- Area – 1 foot per 1 pound of your rabbit’s body weight.
- Width – The width of the cage should be 1.5 times the length of the rabbit
- Length – 3 times the length of the fully grown Jersey Wooly.
The cage will require proper bedding along the floor of the cage as the rabbit will sleep on it, dig in it, and often eat it. Therefore the bedding must be of good quality and deep enough along the floor of the hutch to keep the rabbit safe and healthy.
The bedding, therefore, needs to be soft, with no sharp pieces and not harmful should the rabbit eat any of it. It should not be made of any material that comes apart easily and may block the digestive tract of the rabbit as in the case of Wool block.
It is not recommended to use cat litter, pine products, or wood shavings for bedding for safety reasons. Hay makes an ideal bedding material as it is also a nutritious food substance for rabbits; especially meadow hay.
Positives and Negatives of owning a Jersey Wooly rabbit
- A petite sized beauty that loves cuddles
- One of the most widely exhibited rabbits at shows
- A long, soft woolly coat that’s easy to maintain
- Very popular as a fancy rabbit show breed
- Makes a good pet rabbit for any experience of rabbit owner
- Likes being handled and stroked, but with care
- Sweet-natured and loving, not aggressive
- Very intelligent, clean, and easy to potty train
- Should not be kept outside because of its size
- A Dwarf size that needs to be handled gently
- Too fragile for very young children, easily stressed
- Will need sufficient stimulation as it’s intelligent
- Needs lots of exercises to avoid obesity
Commonly Asked Questions:
Q. How much does a Jersey Wooly rabbit cost?
A. From $75-250, from a reputable Jersey Wooly rabbit breeder.
Do your research before you buy and check the breeder or seller, its health history, and any characteristics that might give cause for concern. ARBA can help provide information about finding, adopting, or keeping Jersey Wooly rabbits.
Food and litter material will cost around $20-25 per month, plus Vets fees, vaccinations, and accessories all need to be factored into the cost of owning your rabbit. Then factor in accessories, toys, vets bills, and care products. (Check Wikipedia for training and stimulation tips).