During the summer months, pet rabbits may be affected by maggot infestation. Different terms are used for this but fly strike is the most common.
Healthy rabbits are generally not affected by fly strike. There are three main problems that lead to the condition. First, a wound to which the flies are attracted and on which they lay their eggs is an obvious site where maggots can cause damage. More commonly, a rabbit that cannot take and eat its soft faeces caecotrophs (either due to arthritis or obesity) will quickly have matted and soiled fur around its anus. This, from the fly’s point of view, is an ideal opportunity to lay eggs. When the maggots hatch they spread from the area (commonly up the abdomen) and may cause a tremendous amount of damage as they eat through the tissues while the rabbit is still living. Thirdly, damp bedding is an ideal environment for egg-laying and maggot growth and development; these may then migrate onto the rabbit. This is a fatal condition if not treated.
The key factors in preventing fly strike are to ensure that bedding is clean and dry, and that daily cleaning of toilet areas is carried out; the whole accommodation should be completely emptied and disinfected 1-2 times weekly. Checks of your rabbit should be carried out twice daily, if you find any wounds or ulcerated areas of skin then please seek veterinary attention. A rabbit owner should also make sure that their rabbit is able to keep it bottom clean, if the rabbit keeps soiling itself, then there is usually a health reason as to why e.g. obesity or arthritis. If a rabbit is unable to keep itself clean, then please seek veterinary advice.
This year Rabbit Awareness Week is happening between 19th-24th June.
During this week, we are running FREE Rabbit Health Checks with our Veterinary Nurses, Louise Martin and Cara Palacio, at our Walnut Tree Hospital. The clinics will be available during the week at selected times. Our nurses will discuss general husbandry, diet, weight, vaccinations and dental disease and answer any questions you may have.
To book an appointment, please speak to reception or call on 01908 397777.
For more information on Rabbit Awareness Week, please visit www.rabbitawarenessweek.co.uk.