Flystrike in Rabbits

Flystrike, or Myiasis, occurs when flies lay eggs on living rabbits which subsequently hatch into maggots, which start to eat the rabbit’s flesh.

Maggots start to hatch within just hours of eggs being laid, so fast action is vital when treating these cases. The flies are attracted to damp fur, urine, faeces and scent glands, and rabbits that are compromised due to ill health are at increased risk. Overweight rabbits that are unable to groom themselves efficiently are also at an increased risk of flystrike, but ALL rabbits are at risk of this horrible condition.

HOW WILL I KNOW IF MY RABBIT HAS FLYSTRIKE?

During the warmer months, check your rabbits several times a day for eggs stuck to the fur. The eggs look like tiny yellowish white grains of rice.

WHAT SHOULD I DO IF MY RABBIT HAS FLYSTRIKE?

Contact your vet immediately for advice and prepare to take your rabbit to the surgery as an emergency. It may be tempting to bathe your rabbit to wash off the eggs or maggots, but this should be avoided as it will make it more difficult to clip the infested fur at the surgery.

HOW CAN I PREVENT FLYSTRIKE?
  • Ensure housing is kept clean and dry – removed soiled bedding daily
  • Watch your rabbit’s weight as obesity can lead to dirty bottoms which will attract the flies
  • Check your rabbits periodically throughout the day – including house rabbits
  • Keep health-compromised rabbits indoors with window screens to protect from flies
  • Disinfect housing weekly using a rabbit-safe product
  • Ensure rabbits are kept dry
  • Use fly deterrents such as fly paper; fly traps; citronella; lavender
  • Use fly screens on windows and doors
  • Use a preventative treatment such as REARGUARD cutaneous solution.

Sadly, flystrike is not 100% preventable, but by following the precautions above, you can reduce the chances of your rabbits being affected by this potentially fatal condition.