Every rabbit owner should be aware of what flystrike is and how best to prevent it. During the warmer months, flies can lay eggs on your rabbit. These eggs hatch into maggots which can eat your rabbit’s flesh and cause a life-threatening infection.
Flies are attracted to moist, warm skin. They are especially likely to lay their eggs in the presence of fluids such as urine, faeces and blood. Worryingly, it only takes a matter of hours for an infestation to manifest. Read on to find out how to keep your rabbit free from this deadly condition.
Keep your rabbit healthy by ensuring they are clean and dry, especially in their bum area. Owners must check this area twice daily, especially when it is warm and there are flies about. Diarrhoea and urinary incontinence must be promptly treated to prevent soiling.
Ensure your rabbit is fed a balanced diet that promotes healthy stool. Feeding excess pellets, fruit or vegetables can lead to runny stool or a failure of the rabbit to eat their caecotroph. Remember about 90% of your bunny’s diet should be grass or hay.
Work at reducing the number of flies around your rabbit. This may mean the use of fly strips and screens, keeping the environment as clean as possible and making sure all bins are well covered. Consider keeping your rabbit inside if they do have signs such as loose stool.
Applying flystrike prevention
Talk to your vet about the use of flystrike preventatives. These products are applied to the back end of your bunny and can both repel flies and prevent their eggs from developing into maggots. Most products are sprayed on or applied with an applicator sponge. Some of the better treatments can prevent flystrike for over two months.
Flystrike signs to watch for
If unsure what you’re looking for and how to check your bunny for flystrike, ask your vet or nurse for a demonstration. You need to safely scoop your rabbit up and turn them gently over so you can get a good view of their rear end. You may notice a foul smell, fur loss, red skin and you will see maggots crawling about. Affected rabbits tend to be lethargic and off their food.
The take home message
There are several things an owner can do to minimise the risk of flystrike. One of the most important things to do is to apply an effective flystrike prevention. If you think your rabbit may be affected, the sooner they are seen by a vet the better their prognosis.