Summer appears to be here and it’s this time of year that we need to be vigilant about fly-strike in our rabbits.
What is Fly strike?
Fly strike, also known as myiasis, happens when flies lay their eggs on the rabbit. These eggs will hatch out to maggots within 24 hours! The maggots then start to feed on the rabbit’s skin and flesh causing horrible painful open wounds. The most usual place for flies to lay eggs is around your rabbit’s bottom or in the skin folds of the genitals. You can usually spot the fly eggs and the maggots yourself.
Rabbits that have fly strike may at first appear very fidgety and show signs of overgrooming. They soon become very poorly and stop moving and eating. Untreated rabbits will die so you must take your rabbit to your vet immediately if you find maggots on him or her.
If your rabbit has fly strike we will clip, clean and treat the wounds as necessary and get rid of all the maggots. This can usually be done with your rabbit conscious but occasionally we need to administer a general anaesthetic. We will also give your rabbit antibiotics and painkillers and in some cases intravenous fluids are required for treatment of shock. In some very sad cases the fly-strike is so advanced that the only option is to euthanase your rabbit on humane grounds.
Flies are attracted to wet, soiled and warm environments to lay their eggs therefore it is important that you clean your hutch very regularly. Ideally train your rabbit to use a litter tray.
Always check your rabbit’s bottom for fly eggs once a day, twice in warm weather. Fly eggs can be combed out. If you notice your rabbit’s bottom is dirty then clean and dry it immediately.
Rabbits that are long-haired, overweight, old or arthritic may be at increased risk of developing fly-strike so take extra care if this applies to your rabbit
There are preventative products that we can recommend to prevent fly-strike progression. Our clinic nurses would be more than happy to talk to you about preventing fly-strike in your rabbit.
In summary prevention of fly-strike is definitely better than cure! Happy summer everyone!