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Pet Rabbit Diseases

Parasites, Fungus,

Flystrike & Warbles

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Fungal Disease in Rabbits

Dermatophytosis, or Ringworm, one of the most common
fungal diseases in animals and people, isn't common in
rabbits but it does occur. Rabbits that already have
some other stressful condition and young rabbits that
haven't yet developed immunities are the most
susceptible. Some rabbits can carry and pass around the
spores without exhibiting symptoms themselves. And the
fungus is sometimes spread from one animal to another
by a hairbrush that is used on all of the animals.


The symptoms of ringworm are many skin areas, usually
on the ears, head or forelimbs, which are hairless and
have the skin slightly reddened or crusty from
irritation. Be careful when handling animals with
ringworm, it can be easily transmitted to you or your
family members.


If there are only a few spots of infection topical
fungal medications can be used on the affected areas,
ask your vet about what is safe for rabbits. If the
animal has many ringworm areas, the veterinarian will
probably give an oral medication.


Keep your rabbits in the best health possible. Wash
your hands before handling your rabbits, especially if
you have many rabbits or you have other pets such as
cats and dogs. Keep the rabbits cages very clean, and
if your rabbits are allowed outside into a play yard,
check them over carefully every few days to catch any
signs of fungus before they get a foothold.


Myiasis, or flystrike, is most common in rabbits that
are housed outdoors, but it is also found in house
rabbits so you need to know what to watch for.
Basically, flystrike is a fly maggot infestation.

Several types of flies lay their eggs in warm, damp
places, and wet animal fur is a warm, damp place. If a
rabbit can't clean itself properly because it is obese,
ill, elderly, has a long coat, skin folds, tooth
problems, and the like, the fur around the genitals may
get wet and the fur matted. Wounds are also a target
for flies, of course.

The eggs hatch in just one day and the maggots begin to
look for food. Their food is your rabbit. The maggots
burrow into the rabbit, eating its flesh and giving off
a toxin at the same time. If you don't catch this
problem, the injury to the rabbit can grow to be so
severe that the rabbit will need to be put to sleep.
That can happen in just one day, and rabbits can die in
as little as a day later.


Some rabbits will dig at their rears, some will back
into a corner and refuse to leave, and some will run
about and try to escape the pain. If you see any
unusual behavior in your rabbits in the summer, be sure
to check its bottom immediately. One larger fly, called
the Bot Fly, has large maggots that make a visible lump
under the rabbit's skin. Bot fly infestation is often
called Warbles.


If you discover maggots on your rabbit, don't panic,
but do act quickly. If possible, wrap the rabbit in a
clean towel and take it immediately to your
veterinarian. Maggots can burrow beneath the rabbit's
skin and not be visible for easy removal, (In fact,
they can burrow into the rabbit's muscle and even its
intestines.) so you probably can't fix this by

Call ahead so the vet can be ready for immediate
treatment. Rabbits easily die of shock, and the rabbit
will need careful nursing. Veterinarians usually keep
the rabbit for at least twenty-four hours to make sure
all the maggots are removed, treat the rabbit for
infection, and watch for any toxic reactions in the


The best prevention, of course, is to keep flies away
from your rabbits. Of course that is often impossible
to do perfectly, but there are excellent fly traps that
will help quite a bit and keeping the rabbit and its
cage clean at all times will also discourage flies.
Check your rabbit twice a day to make sure it is clean
and dry.

Don't overfeed your rabbits, especially with greens or
fresh grass, which promote diarrhea and damp rear. Give
them free feeding of a good grass hay such as Timothy.
That keeps their digestive systems working correctly.

If flystrike is a big problem with your rabbits your
vet can prescribe a medication to spray on your
rabbit's rear that is supposed to prevent flystrike for
ten weeks. There are also a few over-the-counter
preparations that may work for you.

See Also:  All about Worms in Pet Rabbits

Stuffed Rabbits & Animals

Rabbit Calendars

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