VET’S VIEW: Check your rabbits for flystrike

WARMER weather means it’s extremely important for rabbit owners to look out for the very serious – often fatal – dangers of ‘flystrike’.

Flystrike is a common disease caused by flies attracted to rabbits’ bottoms by smell of urine and/or their poo.

They lay their eggs in fur, which then hatch, releasing maggots that eat their way into the rabbit’s flesh. As well as obvious and sometimes massive tissue damage, these maggots also release toxins causing seizures, listlessness, and shock.

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Between now and autumn you must check your rabbit’s bottom at least twice daily.

If you notice eggs (resembling tiny white grains of rice in clumps) or maggots, see your vet ASAP.

Even if you can’t see any, contact your vet as they might have already burrowed into your rabbit’s flesh disappearing from view.

Any rabbit can get flystrike, with certain conditions making it harder for them to clean themselves, such as obesity and tooth problems, so special care should be taken to clean and check those rabbits’ bottoms more often.

Treatment for flystrike depends on severity and can include shock therapy, antibiotics and maggot removal, but the most crucial thing is to contact your vet immediately.

As well as checking your rabbit’s bottom twice daily, making sure that it’s clean and dry, remove soiled bedding every day, and disinfect hutches once every week. Don’t overfeed rabbits, especially with excessive fresh grass, as this can cause diarrhoea that’ll stick to fur and attract flies.

Perhaps carefully trim fur from around its rear end.

Few products can be applied to prevent fly eggs from developing into maggots but make sure you discuss these with your vet before applying to your rabbit’s fur.

Keep flies away from hutches using fly screens, sticky fly paper.

Finally, if you suspect your rabbit has flystrike, call Grove Lodge Vets on 01903 234866.