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Flystrike can be fatal for rabbits

Fly Strike is a distressing condition which takes place mainly in the summer months or if the weather is wet and warm. In the past couple of weeks we have seen a worrying number of Fly Strike cases at the practice, most commonly in rabbits but it can affect any animals.

Fly Strike occurs when flies lay eggs on the rabbit’s skin (usually around their bottom). These eggs then hatch into maggots. The maggots eat and can often burrow into the rabbit’s skin. Minor cases caught early may be treatable but this condition is often fatal and can take place within hours.

Flystrike can be fatal for rabbits.

Prevention is better than cure

  • Feed a diet of mainly hay and grass to keep the guts working properly and prevent diarrhoea.
  • Check your pet’s back end daily to ensure it is clean and dry
  • Change soiled bedding daily using plenty of absorbent bedding such as shavings.
  • Clean and disinfect the hutch weekly. We recommend “Keep it Clean” spray
  • Fly prevention around the hutch. Flies do not like the smell of citronella oil so this can be used on the outside of the hutch. Sticky fly paper can also be used as long as the rabbit cannot get to it.
  • Do not let your rabbit get overweight as it will be unable to clean itself and the soft faeces will cake and attract flies
  • Hang fly strips or put on fly nets if possible.
  • Fly prevention on your rabbit “Rearguard” is a liquid that is applied to the rabbit’s hindquarters. An application of one bottle will last 10 weeks, preventing the maggots developing to the stage when they cause damage.

Dave Cumber owner of Dave Cumber Vets said “This can be an extremely distressing experience for both the rabbit and owner but it is easily treatable if the rabbit is brought into the surgery early to see one of our vets. It is also essential that rabbits have plenty of hay and grass available at all times. This is to prevent teeth overgrowing and to keep the intestines working properly. Rabbit’s teeth can grow between 2mm and 3mm a week and in the wild they would spend 75% of their time outside the burrow grazing.”

More information on caring for your rabbit can be found on rabbits page.