Fly strike risk in rabbits

Licky

Rabbits need regular tail checks through the summer.

Rabbits are not second-class citizens!

OK, so maybe we are a bit bonkers about bunnies at The Mewes, but we really do believe that they deserve the same levels of care as our pet cats and dogs.

That’s why we were upset to read about a new piece of research published last year in which it was found that almost half of all rabbits who are brought to the vet with fly-strike in the UK lost their lives to it.

Fly strike is preventable. Ideally no rabbit should die of it.

Also known as cutaneous myiasis, it is a nasty problem when certain species of flies lay their eggs on the rabbit’s fur. These eggs hatch into flesh-eating maggots, which burrow through the fur to start feeding on the poor bunny. Depending on the warmth of the day, these maggots can cause life-threatening damage within six to twelve hours.

I regularly spend time advising our rabbit owners on how to prevent this, and always recommend twice daily tail checks. Look for the presence of faeces stuck to the fur, which attracts the female flies, and wash this off. Also check for eggs or maggots. These must all be sorted out immediately or our little friend may be dead the next day.

Older rabbits are more at risk, according to the research, as are unneutered females. The worst time of year is just coming up: July and August. Flies will come indoors as well as visiting pets outside in hutches.

You can reduce your rabbit’s risk by keeping her slim and active, ensuring the hutch and run areas are cleaned daily, and, as your bun gets older, using medications to support their mobility issues.

But even in the best run households I have known flies to strike. So, we also recommend a summer-time application of a fly-repellant as an additional precaution. This is pre-paid for our rabbits on our monthly payment Pet Care Plan. To find out more about our rabbit Plan or myiasis prevention, call my friendly team on 01444 456886.

27th June 2019

Category: Advice