This fluffy white ball of fur, is actually a rabbit. It is knowns as the Angora rabbit from which the silky and soft Angora wool is harvested.
There are five breeds of angora rabbits. The English breed is commonly used as pets because of its cute, fluffy appearance. This is the breed that is pictured here in these images.
Other breeds include, French, a breed whose fur is popular for hand spinning; Giant, known for their intense coloration; Satin, known for their rich luster and coloration; and German. Depending on breed, angoras weigh between 6 and 12 pounds. They come in a variety of colors, often with specific color points on the ears, nose, and feet.
The Angora rabbit is one of the oldest types of domestic rabbit, and is believed to have originated from Turkey. The story goes back to the early 18th century, when some sightseeing sailors were put into a Turkish port then called Angora. The sailors found the shawls worn by the native women to be remarkable for their beauty, fineness and silkiness. So before the sailors left Angora they secured some of the Angora rabbits to take back to France.
The French claim the Angora rabbits were first recorded in France in the Encyclopaedia of 1765. In any event, it was the French who first saw the commercial possibilities of Angora wool and began to manufacture this type of wool into yarn. Aside from their commercial use, the rabbits became popular pets with French royalty and spread to other parts of Europe by the end of the century.