Flystrike which is considered a pretty common but serious issue for rabbits in the summer can be an easily avoided issue. Flystrike also known as ‘myiasis’ and should be known by all rabbit owners.
Flystrike is the result of flies being attracted to a damp, urine & faeces covered area typically seen around your rabbits anus or backend. Whilst it’s not very pleasant to hear about, it’s something you should know about as left untreated it can cause death.
Typically a fly will land on your rabbits rear, lay their eggs in the fur and anus area. It will only take up to 2 hours from those eggs to hatch into maggots which will then feed on your rabbits skin, it’s definitely something you need to keep an eye on.
Which are at risk of Flystrike?
There are many factors which go into your rabbit potentially getting flystrike and not all of them are explicitly your fault as an owner, but you can prevent some of these with a little preperation into the summer season.
- Rabits with a large Dewlap, typically this will be female rabbits which struggle to groom themselves
- Rabbits which suffer from urinary issues
- Obese Rabbits
- Rabbits that are too large or struggle to clean themselves
- Elderly rabbits
- Rabbits with Arthritis
- Breeds of rabbit with long fur that aren’t groomed or trimmed regularly (Angora Rabbits for example).
How do I know if they have Flystrike?
Unfortunately, diagnosing flystrike without actually picking up your rabbit and checking can be difficult. However, these are a few signs to diagnosing flystrike in your rabbit:
- A strong distinct urine smell (As if your rabbit toilet hasn’t been changed)
- Not eating or drinking
- Lethargic behaviour
- Digging in a corner or teeth grinding
Whilst some of these signs aren’t just indicative to Flystrike they are worth keeping an eye out for, the best thing you can do is to check your rabbits bottom.
What do I do if I find Maggots?
There is no home solution as Flystrike can cause your rabbit to go into shock. If your rabbit has maggots on them, you should take them directly to the vet to avoid their open wound from getting infected.
If your vet has an emergency line, let them know prior so they can prepare for your arrival, removing maggots from your rabbits skin isn’t a nice process and will require a lot of preparation to make sure the area is clean.
Can I prevent Flystrike?
Regularly checking your rabbit daily during the Summer is the only real way of preventing this, you may simply catch the issue at the right time which should all you to clean your rabbit up and take them to the vet.
A very basic and often forgotten step is making sure the environment is clean! If you have an indoor rabbit make sure the bins are emptied regularly, try and avoid a maggot infestation in any room(s) your rabbit has access to.
If you have a rabbit that doesn’t let you pick them up to look and you’re not comfortable, we find holding a treat up so they stand on two legs and support them to check underneath can help.
If your rabbit is known to have issues grooming it’s rear, you can give them a shallow bath regularly, but this is something I highly suggest conversing with your vet as bathing a rabbit can send them into shock. Never pour water on a rabbit.
Keep your rabbit on its proper dietary plan and if you find their feaces to be quite soft or squishy add more hay into the mix and lower the fruits and pellet intake.
It’s always worth noting a sudden change in your rabbits diet can cause internal issues and may change the consistency of their poo. If their faeces are softer or wet, it can get stuck to your rabbits fur and will need cleaning if your rabbit can’t do it themselves.