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Parasite Control and your Rabbit

Parasite Control and your Rabbit

When bringing home a new rabbit, you want them to be as happy and as comfortable as possible. This means taking the correct parasite preventative measures to ensure your rabbit doesn’t fall ill. Many parasites can affect pet rabbits and if left untreated, can lead to serious illness.

In this blog post, I will discuss the types of parasite your rabbit may encounter and how to take the correct preventative measures to ensure your bunny is as happy and as healthy as can be!

Dr Bobby Ortiz, small and exotic pet vet, posing with a bunny patient

Dr. Bobby Ortiz, M.V.B.

Dr Bobby Ortiz, aka 'Dogtor Bob', is a small animal and exotic veterinarian based in Dublin. He has a strong interest in Small Mammal (rabbits, guinea pigs, ferrets) and Reptile medicine and surgery.

He grew up in a family of avid animal lovers, which led him to work as an Aquarist at the Long Beach Aquarium of the Pacific in California. It was there he decided he wanted to become a vet, and specialise in exotic animals, that needed the same care and medical attention that dogs and cats are given.

He lives with his wife and Brittany Spaniel Bodhi, and has dreams to build a new tropical marine fish tank in the near future!

Common Parasites in Rabbits

In rabbits, mites can be a major concern. There are two major types of mites; ear mites (Psoroptes cuniculi) and fur mites (Cheyletiella parasitorvorax).

Ear Mites (Psoroptes cuniculi)

A common parasite in rabbits, it can affect the lining of the ear and cause brown crusts around the ear to form, creating an “ear canker.” Rabbits infested with this parasite may scratch a lot and shake their head and ears. They may also lose their appetite which can lead to weight loss, and if left untreated, more serious infections can develop. This mite can be spread through direct contact with other infested animals.

Fur Mites (Cheyletiella parasitorvorax)

It is highly contagious and occurs more frequently in longer haired rabbits. They may show no obvious signs initially of any infestation, but if you spot excessive ‘dandruff’ or large white flakes over the shoulders, or just above the tail, this may indicate they have fur mites and should be seen by your local vet.

Fleas

Fleas can be spread from other household pets like cats, and can cause mild scratching, biting at skin, flea dirt, alopecia/hair loss, and anaemia in severe cases. They can often be seen around the ear tips or face and bunched in groups. It can be irritating for your pet rabbit, who may experience frequent scratching, fur loss, or lethargy from anaemia.

Worms

Worms can also be an issue in rabbits. They can be easily spread from another infected pet, like a dog or cat. Make sure to regularly worm dogs and cats who have access to rabbit grazing areas, keep areas clean and always pick up after your cat or dog.

Signs of Parasites in Rabbits

Some general signs to look out for are…

  • Scratching/biting
  • Weight loss
  • Loss of appetite
  • Poor coat condition
  • Fur loss
  • Diarrhoea
  • Lethargy
  • Dandruff/white flakes
A cute little brown bunny scratching

Preventing Parasites in Your Rabbit

It’s not always possible to keep 100% of parasites at bay but there are some things you can do to reduce the risk of infection, such as:

Regular health checks

It is important to regularly check on your rabbit, both by yourself and by a vet. Try using a fine-tooth comb like TRIXIE Flea and Dust Comb to gently part the hair to look for signs of parasites.

Clean Bedding and Cage

Always make sure your rabbit has clean bedding and habitat; clean every day. Make sure to check for soiled or wet bedding and replace and clean right away.

Balanced Diet

A healthy, balanced diet of hay, vegetables, pellets, and plenty of water will ensure your rabbit maintains a happy and healthy lifestyle.

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