Flystrike in rabbits – beware!

Now that the weather is starting to warm up (no, honestly, it is. Possibly. Any time soon), it’s important to be on the look out for the signs of Flystrike (also known as Myiasis) in your rabbits.

As you are probably aware, Flystrike is a nasty condition, which can be extremely serious if not caught early. Flies will quickly target a healthy animal who may have loose stools, and whose fur may therefore not be as well groomed as usual. The flies lay their eggs in the fur around the bottom, so the maggots that hatch out have a ready, and rabbit-shaped, source of food. The growing maggots then burrow into the skin, causing pain, shock and subsequent infection, which can often be fatal.

Flystrike can be fatal for bunnies - beware!

Flystrike can be fatal for bunnies – beware!

Fortunately, with regular checks and good basic hygiene it is possible to prevent the condition occurring, or at least to catch it in the very early stages when effective action can be taken to rapidly return your pet to full health. The following checklist is provided by saveafluff and details steps which should be followed all year round, but which are particularly effective in combating Flystrike:

  • In order to keep your rabbit’s stools firm and healthy, ensure that he or she is eating a healthy diet, made up of at least 80% fresh hay
  • Remove any soiled bedding every day; clean out and disinfect the entire hutch weekly
  • Check your rabbit at least twice a day for any signs of infestation
  • Remember that house rabbits can also be at risk
  • Add fly-screens to your rabbit’s hutches and runs
  • Ask your vet about specific preventative measures: ‘Rearguard’ liquid is applied by sponge to the rabbit and guards against flystrike for up to ten weeks by preventing any maggots maturing to a stage where they become dangerous.
  • Hang fly killers such as sticky fly paper (available from DIY stores and garden centres) in the home or in your rabbit’s living quarters
  • Some plants and herbs repel flies, so place these in pots on top of the hutch: Dried pyrethrum flowers, Pennyroyal (has a strong peppermint scent), Nigella (Love in a Mist), balm, chamomile, hemp, agrimony, lavender, mugwort, rosemary, rue, peppermint, santalina (Cotton Lavender), basil, shofly, green oregano. Make sure that they are well out of reach of your rabbit though!

If you spot any signs of possible problems on your rabbit, call your vet immediately. It may seem extreme, but Flystrike is a genuine emergency and waiting until morning to seek help may be too late. Get your rabbit to the vet as soon as possible. Don’t attempt to wash your rabbit as this can spread any infection further, and make it more difficult for the vet to remove fur from the affected area before treatment.

It’s a great idea to get into the habit of grooming your bunny every day – it’s a fantastic bonding experience that your rabbit will really enjoy, as well as keeping the flies at bay. Our shop stocks a wide range of rabbit care items.

Until next time very best wishes,

The Ralph Site, non-profit pet loss support

Please note: The Ralph Site is not affiliated with the third-party organisations in any of the links shared here, and the views, ideas and suggestions expressed in this and other blogs are simply shared with the intention of helping you, our friends, take care of the special animals in your lives.

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