Flystrike: Prevention is better than cure

Flystrike happens when flies lay their eggs on your rabbit, and those eggs hatch out into maggots. Maggots from blowflies (bluebottles and green bottles) are the most dangerous.  They can eat into your rabbit’s flesh within 24 hours which can cause death in a very short time.

We recommend the following preventive measures:

  • Check your rabbit’s bottom every day, more than once a day in the summer.
  • Keep the rabbits’ environment clean so that flies are not attracted. Remove dirty litter and bedding.
  • Apply Rearguard or a similar product as recommended by the manufacturer.  This product can be used if your rabbit is at risk of flystrike, as recommended by the Vet.
  • If your rabbit is obese, it needs to lose weight so that there is less strain on joints, it is able to squat properly when toileting and it is able to clean itself properly.
  • If your rabbit has a wound, keep it clean and dry.
  • If you suspect your rabbit has a urinary problem, then take it to the vet for diagnosis and treatment.
  • If your rabbit is producing unusually wet faeces, take it to the Vet for diagnosis and treatment, and be prepared to change the diet accordingly.
  • If you suspect your rabbit has arthritis, ask the Vet for anti-inflammatory medicine to ease pain in joints and ensure it isn’t overweight.

The onus is entirely on the owner to keep a regular check on the rabbit. Even healthy, active rabbits get dirty bottoms from time to time and we can never assume, because our bunnies are usually clean, that they will always be clean. In the summer months especially, rabbits must be checked at least twice per day.

It only takes a few hours from flies laying eggs to maggots hatching and eating into a rabbit’s flesh, and once they are established huge damage can be done, from which many rabbits don’t recover. If the bottom is dirty, wash it with warm water and a shampoo for small pets. Rinse thoroughly and dry.

The smell of damp fur has been known to attract flies too! Urine left on the fur and skin can cause scalding, where the skin becomes red, inflamed and very sore.

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