FlystrikeA brief guide to keeping your bunny safe from Flystrike
Flystrike (sometimes known as blowfly strike or myiasis) occurs when flies lay their eggs onto a rabbit's skin and the eggs hatch into maggots; these burrow into the skin causing nasty wounds and infections. Without prompt veterinary treatment Flystrike can be fatal, death occurring through shock and infection.
Rabbits being old or overweight can increase their chances of developing Flystrike, as they cannot reach to clean themselves properly, which can make it easier for flies to access the fur around their bottom and lay eggs. Similarly, having an unclean environment with dirty or soiled shavings can encourage fly activity. Rabbits who have an illness or disability that reduces normal movement or grooming and rabbits or who are fed an inappropriate diet leading to diarrhoea can have an increased risk of developing Flystrike.
Signs of Flystrike
- Being unusually quiet, twitching or generally being unsettled
- Not eating or drinking
- Wet or damp fur around the bottom or tail
- Red patches or wounds
- Presence of maggots on the skin or fur
If you find evidence of Flystrike or you are concerned your rabbit may be suffering from it, call your veterinary practice for an immediate appointment, as this condition is very painful and can be life threatening. Remove any visible maggots gently with tweezers if possible. Keep your rabbit's fur dry so the vet can clip it away to help remove the maggots. Your rabbit will need immediate veterinary attention as well as antibiotics and pain relief.
Check your rabbit at least twice a day, make sure that their bottom and living conditions are clean. Ensure your rabbit is being fed a suitable diet to prevent obesity and diarrhoea (rabbits should be on a diet of approximately 85-90% roughage/fibre, such as hay, grass or straw). Daily grooming of long-haired rabbits is important at all times of the year, but even more so in the summer when flies can hide in the long hair. Make sure your rabbit's hutch and living conditions are clean and replace litter trays daily to deter flies from being attracted because of any unpleasant smells; similarly use fly screens on hutches where possible. Use a preventative Flystrike product in high risk seasons such as spring/summer and repeat every 3 months.