Fly Strike – Rabbits

Flystrike is a very distressing conditions that can affect any animal but rabbits are particularly suscepitible. Overweight and debilitated rabbits are at an even greater risk as they are not able to clean themselves properly.

What causes Flystrike?

Flies tend to lay there eggs on dead animals and they hatch into maggots which eat the flesh. However, flies are also attracted to the smell of blood, faeces and urine and will lay their eggs on a live animal that is dirty and injured. They will commonly lay their eggs on the rear ends of rabbits that are not clean and unable to groom themselves. When the eggs hatch, the maggots bury into the fur and start to eat the flesh, eventually creating cavities in the skin and muscle. Maggots can eat flesh very quickly and infestation can be fatal.

Risk factors

  • Obesity prevents adequate cleaning and inability to squat.

  • Urinary tract infection cause leakage of urine onto the fur.

  • Poor husbandry is also a key factor underlying the development of fly strike. Soiled bedding and litter must be changed daily.

  • Painful dental problems will make a rabbit reluctant to clean itself.

  • Inadequate amount of fibre in diet leading to soft stools gathering around bottom.

Prevention

It is the responsibility of the owner to check their rabbit several times every day to ensure that do not have a dirty bottom. If they do, it may be an indicator that they need to see the vet as there may be an underlying problem (see list above).

It is important to wash their bottom with warm water and gentle pet shampoo, then dry thoroughly.

If the problem persists seek Veterinary advice however if there is any evidence of fly strike your rabbit must be seen immediately.

Rear Guard can be used as a preventative measure but it does not act as a replacement for regularly checking of your rabbit and their environment.

For more information on how to reduce to the risk of flystrike in your rabbit, please see the Rabbit Welfare Association and Fund.