With our West Sussex weather warming up it’s extremely important for rabbit owners to be aware of the very serious - and often fatal - danger of a condition called ‘flystrike’.
Flystrike – or myiasis to give it its posh name – is an all-too-common disease caused by flies attracted to the rear end of rabbits by the smell of urine and/or faeces; laying their eggs in fur, which then hatch releasing maggots that then eat their way into the rabbit’s flesh. As well as the obvious and sometimes extensive tissue damage, these maggots also release toxins causing seizures, listlessness, and shock.
Between now and autumn you must check your rabbit’s bottom at least twice daily. If you notice eggs (resembling tiny white grains of rice in clumps) or maggots, see your vet immediately. Even if you can’t see any, contact your vet as they might have already burrowed into your rabbit’s flesh disappearing from view.
Any rabbit can get flystrike, with certain conditions making it harder for your rabbit to clean itself, e.g. obesity, large skin folds, long hair, arthritis, wounds, tooth problems or urinary issues, so special care should be taken to clean and check those rabbits’ bottoms more frequently.
Treatment for flystrike depends on severity and can include shock treatment, antibiotics and maggot removal but the most crucial thing is to see your vet ASAP.
As well as checking your rabbit’s bottom twice daily making sure that it’s clean and dry, flystrike prevention includes strict hygiene control for hutches removing soiled bedding every day and disinfecting once a week.
Don’t overfeed your rabbit, especially with excessive fresh grass, as this can lead to diarrhoea that’ll stick to fur and attract flies. Perhaps carefully trim fur from around its rear end.
There are a few products that you can apply to your rabbit’s fur that prevent fly eggs from developing into maggots but make sure you discuss these with your vet first. Keep flies away from hutches using fly screens, sticky fly paper. Finally if you suspect your rabbit has flystrike call Grove Lodge Vets on 01903 234866.
by Marc Abraham - visit www.GroveLodgeVets.co.uk