The Jersey Wooly

The Jersey Wooly is a small, fluffy rabbit that typically has a very sweet disposition. They should weigh less than three and a-half pounds as an adult rabbit. Jersey Woolies make good pets as well as show rabbits. Like most long-haired rabbits, they are more docile than some other breeds. As with any breed, there are exceptions to this rule, but most are easily handled. Like some of the other breeds, the Jersey Wooly has a nickname. It is called the “Fluff of the Fancy”.

Bonnie Seeley is the originator of the Jersey Wooly. She started breeding Netherland Dwarfs and French Angoras together in order to develop a smaller, long-haired rabbit for pets. While the original intent was to breed for the pet trade, the Jersey Wooly has become a very popular show rabbit. Ms. Seeley started breeding to develop the breed during the 1970s. She introduced the breed at the 1984 ARBA (American Rabbit Breeders Association) Convention for their first showing. They were accepted as a recognized breed at the 1988 convention for the solid colors. The Broken group was not recognized until the 2004 convention.

The Jersey Wooly rabbit should be groomed from an early age. By starting the rabbit getting used to being groomed from the time it is very young, it gets used to the grooming and most look forward to it. There are two important reasons for regular grooming. The first is to prevent the fur from matting together. Many people do not realize that matted fur can cause health problems. As the fur mats, it pulls on the skin and can cause the skin to tear. It also hides sores that might have formed under the matting. 

The other main reason that the Jersey Wooly should be groomed regularly is to prevent fur blockages or “Wool Block” in the digestive system. Rabbits can form blockages similar to fur balls in cats.  Unfortunately, the rabbit cannot vomit up the blockage. The blockage will continue to grow in size until it causes a fatal blockage.  A proper diet and regular grooming can prevent most cases of wool block. Jersey Woolies should be given timothy hay and papaya pills as supplemental feed additions to help prevent the wool block. 

It is especially important to groom the rabbits during and immediately after the rabbit molts. Rabbits will molt their baby fur about three or four months of age. Grown rabbits will molt once or twice a year. The coat is less likely to mat after the rabbit passes the baby coat molt. This is because the baby coat on a Jersey Wooly is very cottony and tends to stick together easily. As the adult coat comes in, the longer guard hairs will help to keep the undercoat from matting. The Jersey Wooly should not be sheared because the loss of the guard hairs will actually cause the coat to mat as it grows.

This little rabbit comes in a wide variety of colors. The colors are split up into groups and then each group has different varieties. There are six groups of colors that are accepted by the ARBA. Those groups are the Agouti, the AOV (All Other Variety), Broken, Self, Shaded and Tan Pattern.

The Agouti group is made up of Chestnut, Chinchilla, Opal and Squirrel colors. The AOV group is made up of Pointed rabbits. The Broken group is made up of rabbits that are any recognized color and white. The Self group is made up of rabbits that are all one color. The group includes Black, Blue, Chocolate, Lilac, Ruby-Eyed White (REW) and Blue-Eyed White (BEW). The Shaded group is made up of Sable Point, Smoke Pearl, Siamese Sable, Seal, and Tortoiseshell.  The Tan Pattern group is made up of Otter, Sable Marten, Silver Marten and Smoke Pearl Marten. 

Breakdown of colors

Agouti Chestnut rabbits look much like wild cottontail rabbits. Their coloring is a result of the way the strands of hair are colored. Each strand of hair is slate-colored at the base, with a middle band of orange and tipped with black.

Chinchilla coloration is caused by hair strands with a slate coloring at the base with a narrow pearl colored band and alternating bands of black and light pearl. 

Opal is a pale shade of blue with darker blue ticking.  This is over a slate, base coat and a fawn middle band on each hair stand.

Squirrel coloration is caused by hair strands with a slate coloring at the base with a narrow, pearl-colored band and alternating bands of blue and light pearl. 

AOV Pointed is a color pattern with a white rabbit with dark colored ears, nose marking, tail, and feet. The ARBA recognizes the Black Pointed and the Blue Pointed.

The Broken group consists of any recognized color mixed with white. For showing purposes, the rabbit has to have at least 10 percent of the coat colored but less than 50 percent.

Self Black is solid black. Blue is a solid blue-gray color. Chocolate is a solid brown color. Lilac is a dove gray with a pinkish tint. Ruby-Eyed White is a white rabbit with red eyes. Blue-Eyed White is a white rabbit with blue eyes.

Shaded Sable Point is similar to a Siamese cat in coloration. The body should be cream colored with sepia brown ears, face, feet and tail. Smoke Pearl Siamese Sable is dark sepia brown on the ears, face, feet, saddle and tail. The color should fade to a lighter shade of sepia on the belly, chest and flanks. Seal is very dark sepia brown on the ears, face, feet, saddle and tail. The color should fade to a dark of sepia on the belly, chest and flanks. Tortoiseshell is an orange rabbit that shades to a smoky black on the belly, flanks, haunches, and rump. In addition, the ears, face, feet and tail should also be a smoky black.

Tan Pattern Otter patterns can have a base color of Black or Blue.  The markings consists of belly, eye circles, the insides of the ears, the insides of the legs, the nostrils, the triangle at the base of the neck and the underside of the tail are to be colored Silver with either orange accents with the Black Otter or fawn with the Blue Otter.

Sable Marten has the coloration of a Siamese Sable with silver white markings. The markings include the triangle at the base of the neck, belly, eye circles, and the insides of the ears, the insides of the legs, the nostrils, and the underside of the tail.

Silver Marten is recognized with the base coat colors of Black, Blue, Chocolate and Lilac. The markings include the triangle at the base of the neck, belly, eye circles, and the insides of the ears, the insides of the legs, the nostrils, and the underside of the tail and should be silver white in color.

Smoke Pearl Marten has the coloration of a Smoke Pearl with silver white markings. The markings include the triangle at the base of the neck, belly, eye circles, and the insides of the ears, the insides of the legs, the nostrils, and the underside of the tail.

Jersey Woolies should have a diet of a high-quality, pelleted rabbit food, supplemented by timothy hay and occasional papaya tablets. The rabbit should be fed one-half cup of pellets per day with free access to the hay. Give your Wooly two chewable papaya tablets a day. Most rabbits like the taste and will look forward to eating them each day. They can also be given fresh pineapple or papaya once a week. Other safe treats in small amounts are apples, bananas, carrots and unsweetened Cheerios. They should always have access to fresh, clean water. 

The cage for your Jersey Wooly should be at least 24 inches by 24 inches. This will give them room to exercise in and is a standard size cage. The cage should be located in an area where it is free from drafts in the winter and shaded in the summer. The cage should be cleaned on a regular basis to help keep your rabbit healthy and happy. Regular cleaning is especially important during the molting process. Rabbits will eat the fur that is shed if it is left in the cage.  You will also find that the fur will stick to the wire of the cage and form mats on the wire. The mats will then become dirty from urine and feces and become a health hazard for your rabbit. A wire brush is very handy for cleaning the wire cages.

Jersey Woolies are very nice rabbits and very popular. They are easy to handle for the most part which is important when you consider the time you will spend grooming. Rabbit shows almost always have a good selection of Jersey Woolies to look at and are a great place to find out more about these engaging little rabbits. If you are looking a small, fluffy rabbit and are willing to take the time needed to groom them, the Jersey Wooly may be just what you are looking for.