There are a number of parasites that can affect bunnies, often with terrible consequences. Please read below to find out more about how to prevent them and keep your rabbit happy and healthy.
Flystrike is a terrible condition, common in warmer months, caused by the bottlefly. The flies lay eggs upon the rabbits which hatch into maggots. The maggots quickly mature and begin to eat the rabbit’s flesh, usually around the bottom, tummy and back. The condition is usually fatal within 24 hours.
Is my rabbit at risk?
All rabbits are potentially at risk, in particular outdoor rabbits around summertime. Rabbits with dirty bottoms (usually due to being overweight or having a poor diet) and open wounds are considered very high risk.
How is flystrike treated?
If you find any maggots, call your vet immediately, it is an emergency. Do not try to wash your rabbit or delay getting to the vets by trying to treat the problem yourself. Once flystrike is diagnosed by a vet they will usually clip and clean your rabbit’s fur, remove as many maggots as possible and administer pain relief. Antibiotics are also usually given to stop infection. Tragically if extensive tissue loss has occurred, euthanasia is recommended.
How can I prevent flystrike?
- Feed your rabbit a healthy diet with unlimited hay and only a small amount of fresh veg and pellets.
- Remove soiled bedding daily and thoroughly clean hutches weekly.
- Check rabbits over once a day, twice a day in summer.
- Add flyscreens to hutches and runs.
- Speak to your vet about treatments to prevent flystrike during the summer months.
E cuniculi (Ec) is a microscopic brain and kidney parasite. Some rabbits can carry the parasite without ever becoming ill whilst others may show a range of symptoms. Potentially, all rabbits are at risk as infection is most likely caught from the mother. The parasite can also be caught later in life e.g. after being introduced to an infected newcomer, or sharing a grazing area with a rabbit carrying the infection.
What are the signs of infection?
- Head tilting to one side.
- Eyes may track side to side or up and down.
- Shuffling or weakness on one or both back legs – in some cases paralysis
- Uncontrollable spinning or rolling
- Unexplained changes including seizures, deafness, cataracts or behavioural changes
- Drinking and urinating more than usual due to kidney failure.
However these symptoms are not guaranteed to be present.
When do I need to treat my rabbit?
Preventative treatment is available for bunnies, with dosing particularly recommended in periods of higher risk e.g. when rabbit is acquired, prior to mating and when introducing two rabbits.
Please speak to your vet to discuss the most suitable preventative treatments for your bunny.
Call us on 01435 864422 if you have any questions about parasite prevention for your pet.