East Molesey vets share important spring parasite advice for rabbit owners

February 7, 2022

As we start to enjoy the warmer spring weather in Surrey, there are two critters in particular that will become a bigger threat to pet rabbits – fleas and flies.

At Molesey Vets in East Molesey, our Vets want rabbit owners to be aware of the risks posed by these pests, as well as know the best preventative methods.

Call us on 0208 979 1384 if you notice any of the symptoms below.

FLEAS: Do rabbits get fleas?

It is rare, but yes. Pet rabbits tend to catch fleas when they are near cats and dogs with fleas, or wild rabbits if they are kept outdoors. An infestation of fleas can cause your rabbit to nibble or bite their skin, have hair loss, scaling, and anaemia.

You might spot fleas on your rabbit’s fur or bites on your skin, or you may have noticed other pets scratching more. Flea dirt (a mix of blood and flea poop) is also a tell-tale sign that your rabbit or other pets have fleas.

Rabbit fleas can transmit the deadly disease myxomatosis, which is why it is so important to vaccinate your rabbit and apply regular flea treatments to other pets. Call us on 0208 979 1384 to book a vaccination.

What to do if your rabbit has fleas?

  • Call us to obtain vet-recommended flea treatments for each pet type and your home
  • Treat all rabbits and other pets – never share treatments as ingredients can be harmful to certain species
  • Use the flea-killing house spray as instructed
  • Thoroughly sweep and hoover your home, including dark corners, and cracks and crevices in furniture – you will need to do this regularly and throw away the hoover bag to stop the flea larvae escaping
  • Put your fabrics on a hot wash at 60 degrees to kill any fleas
  • Thoroughly clean your rabbit’s hutch and toys with pet-safe sanitiser

FLIES: What is flystrike in rabbits?

Flystrike (aka myiasis) is most common in warmer months between April to October, but it is a risk all year round. The condition occurs when flies lay their eggs (up to 200) on a rabbit’s skin, typically around their bottom as flies are attracted to soiled bedding and fur. When the eggs hatch, the maggots eat away large areas of tissue around the rear, tail, belly, and back. Flystrike can quickly become fatal so Molesey Vets’ team advise that fast action is essential.

Symptoms of flystrike in rabbits:

  • Quiet and lethargic
  • Refusing food and drink
  • Digging into corners for pain relief
  • A strong smell coming from the hutch
  • Maggots and flies around your pet and in the hutch

You can help to prevent flystrike by:

  • ensuring your rabbit is eating a healthy diet as well as their soft stools
  • ensuring your rabbit can clean themselves – arthritis and dental issues can hinder grooming
  • keeping your rabbit’s environment clean and dry – provide fresh bedding daily and safely disinfect hutches regularly – flies are attracted to damp and smelly conditions
  • checking your rabbit’s bottom daily for any signs of maggots
  • adding barriers to hutches and runs, such as fly screens, to keep critters out

If you spot maggots contact us immediately on 0208 979 1384.

Flystrike sadly has a high mortality rate, however, starting treatment early will give your rabbit the best chance of recovering.

As you will have read in our article, prevention is the best option when it comes to both rabbit fleas and flystrike. Don’t risk your rabbit’s health or their life; get in touch with us for more advice.

Contact us for advice

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