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Rabbit Awareness Week - Flystrike

Rabbit Awareness Week - Flystrike
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One of the biggest dangers for rabbits in the summer months is flystrike. Here are our top tips on how to prevent it;

What is flystrike?

Flystrike, or myasis, occurs when flies lay their eggs on the rabbit’s skin, and they hatch into maggots, which start to eat into the rabbit’s flesh. This is extremely painful and can be fatal in as little as 24 hours.

The flies are attracted to blood or dirt, so will tend to lay their eggs on wounds, or around dirty bottoms.

 

Which rabbits are at risk?

Both indoor and outdoor rabbits can be affected by flystrike. Conditions such as obesity, diarrhoea, poor diet and dental problems can result in your rabbit having a dirty bottom, which then attracts the flies.

 

Prevention is better than cure

To prevent flystrike we recommend:

  • Checking your rabbits carefully every day throughout the year, and twice daily in warm weather. Always make sure their bottoms are clean and dry.
  • If there is any urine or faeces around their bottom, clean and dry it carefully.
  • If they have very long fur, it may be useful to ask your vet or veterinary nurse to trim the fur short. We do not advise you do this at home as it is very easy to accidentally nick rabbits’ delicate skin.
  • Check your rabbit is on the correct diet, with plenty of grass and hay, and a small number of pellets and leafy greens. Our nurses can provide further advice about the correct diet.
  • If your rabbit is overweight, implement a weight loss plan. Again our nurses are happy to offer advice on your rabbit’s weight and diet.
  • Clean out your rabbits’ home every day. Remove wet or dirty bedding and replace with fresh. Once a week, thoroughly clean and disinfect your rabbits’ home. Allow it to dry before refilling with clean bedding.
  • If your rabbit seems to be having problems with their mobility, please discuss with your veterinary surgeon. Arthritis is a common finding in rabbits, but we have suitable treatments available for this debilitating condition.
  • If your rabbit has diarrhoea or urine staining around their bottom, please seek veterinary attention.
  • Buy a mosquito net from a camping or outdoor shop and drape this over your rabbits’ hutch and run in warm weather.
  • Preventative products such as “Rearguard” can be used under veterinary supervision for rabbits that are particularly susceptible to flystrike.

 

What if you find eggs or maggots on your rabbit?

  • This is an EMERGENCY! It is vital that you seek veterinary attention immediately.
  • Please phone the clinic at once; if it is outside normal clinic times, you will be directed to our 24-hour emergency service.
  • Do not wash your rabbit as this will make it more difficult for us to clip the fur.
  • Pick off any maggots you can see, but do not let that delay you getting your rabbit to the vets.

 

Remember that we are offering FREE rabbit check-ups with our Registered Veterinary Nurses throughout June, so please book an appointment for more advice on your rabbits’ diet, health and general care.