Non Conventional Fibres Association

Angora Rabbit

Zoological Information

  • The Angora rabbit (Oryctolagus Cuniculus) is a species from which hair fibres are gathered for various purposes.
  • It is a member of the Leporidae family.
  • The lifespan of this species is approximately ten years.
  • It is frequently regarded as one of the esteemed ‘noble fibres’.
  • These rabbits were known as ‘Silk rabbits’ or ‘Combing rabbits’.

Habitat and fibre production

  • These docile creatures are commonly domesticated but must be maintained in an exceptionally clean environment.
  • Additionally, rabbits are sensitive to extreme heat, intense sunlight, and cold temperatures. Whenever a rabbit undergoes shearing or dehairing, it necessitates specific care to ensure its survival.
  • Mainly four Angora (Ankara) breeds are used to harvest hairs namely: English Angora, French Angora, German Angora and Satin Angora.
  • Breeding Angora rabbits requires a significant amount of labour and specialised expertise.
  • Herbivorous in nature, Angora rabbits predominantly consume hay, grass, and leafy greens.
  • It had its origin in Ankara, Turkey, and over the course of 200 years, it found its way to Europe, making its presence known in England in the year 1708.
  • These creatures undergo shearing every three months, totalling four times a year. The yearly output for Angora rabbit fibres is approximately 2500-3000 tons, with a yield per animal ranging from 0.4 to 0.8 kg.
  • In 1935, Western and Central France engaged in extensive Angora rabbit farming, yielding approximately 90,000 kilograms of hair.
  • China dominates global production with a 90% share, while notable contributions also come from Chile, the USA, and Eastern Europe.

Harvesting methods

There are several techniques for harvesting the Angora rabbit hair, which are given below:


  • It requires a shorter duration (10-20 minutes) and is less stressful for the animal, but it demands more labour.
  • The remaining shorter hairs offer insulation against the cold.
  • Offers the opportunity to harvest more hair by reducing the time between shearing intervals.

Clipping method

  • It is performed with the help of scissors.
  • Increases the amount of sheer wool (length >10mm).
  • Extreme precautions should be taken to avoid causing harm to the rabbit.


  • Immature and thick-ended hairs are usually plucked.
  • It takes 30-40min to complete the process.
  • In China, rabbit hair is hand-plucked to obtain maximum fibres.


  • It is an age-old technique used in France since the 1980s.
  • It aligns the revival of hair follicles with a meticulously arranged coat featuring well-formed guide hair fibres.

Table 1. Physical and Mechanical  properties and chemical composition of angora rabbit hair fibres[1][4]

Physical and Mechanical properties



Length (mm)


Diameter (µm)


Tenacity (cN/tex)


Breaking extension(%)


Moisture regain (65% RH)


Water retention (%)


Chemical composition


Value (in %)



Vegetable matter


Cystine content



Grade 1 – Length=2-3 inches, White, Clean, Without tangles or mats.

Grade 2 – Length=1.5-2 inches, White, Clean, Without tangles or mats.

Grade 3 – Length=1-1.5 inches, White, Clean, Without tangles or mats.

Grade 4 – Any length, White, Clean, Without tangles or mats.

Grade 5 – Any Length, Any Colour, Can be soiled or matted/unmatted.


  • It displays exceptional fineness, lustre, and texture and stands out as one of the lightest natural animal fibres.
  • The Angora rabbit yields the longest silky white hair fibres among all animals.
  • Angora rabbit hair manifests in various colours: white, grey, black, and camel brown.
  • When spun, it demonstrates commendable cohesion properties.
  • Its hair fibres possess a predominantly medullated (largely hollow) structure, making it well-suited for effective thermal insulation and consistent skin temperature.
  • English Angora rabbits typically exhibit a grey coat with blackheads.
  • The French hair type is identifiable by its spiky and longer characteristics, showing a slower dye absorption.
  • Compared to the French variety, the German type is softer in texture.
  • The Chinese variant produces shorter and finer hair than its French and German counterparts.


  • Angora fibres are popularly used to make knitwear yarns, knitted and woven outerwear, hosiery, gloves, and mittens.
  • Angora fibres, at times, exhibit a shorter length and are consequently blended with other luxurious fibres like Cashmere or lamb’s wool to create novelty effects in woven fabrics.
  • Sweaters made out of these fibres appear soft and fuzzy and provide warmth.
  • Banning Angora rabbit hair-based products in 2013 resulted from the excessive plucking of rabbit hair.
  • Nevertheless, in order to maintain a presence in the market, certain renowned fashion retailers like Club Monaco, Sam Edelman, Scott’s Sweaters, and Etsy continue to sell blended products containing angora rabbit hair.
  • It is popularly used as medical and thermal underwear, under blankets in hospitals, nightwear, blankets, etc., mainly from German rabbits.
  • French Angora rabbit hair is generally used in making fashion wear.