Flystrike – A Gross and Killer Disease


This is an issue that is definitely related to any discussion of rabbit hutches. Flystrike is a frankly horrific disease which rabbits are particularly prone to. Any rabbit affected by it should be rushed to the vets as it’s 100% an emergency and can kill untreated. This article aims to briefly explain what it is, when it happens, tips for prevention and what to do if you suspect it. You should get an idea of the territory that could save your rabbit’s life.

What Is Flystrike?

It happens when flies lay eggs onto the rabbit’s skin, usually around the anus or sometimes the feet. The eggs hatch rapidly, possibly within an hour or two, into fly maggots. The maggots then need something to eat – and start to eat into the rabbit’s skin. As if this wasn’t bad enough, this action means they give the rabbit diseases, which can become serious or kill if untreated. Flies laying eggs in this way is a serious problem – and it happens more in some places than others.

in the shade by lusi

When Does It Happen Most?

The link is simple – hot weather, more flies, more flystrike. So if you live somewhere there are plenty of flies, be super aware. However, don’t assume it’s just an issue for folks who live in sunny climes, even in places like the UK with its notoriously understated summers, flies can and do still attack. It also affects guinea pigs, but is most associated with rabbits. Knowing the danger season can help, as can some preventative measures all year round.

Prevention Tips

Hang a fly-strip near the hutch – but not anywhere your bunny or other pets could have a go at nibbling it (yeuch- not to mention danger from the chemicals). Cleaning the hutch is a must, do it daily because flies are attracted to urine soaked and dropping-clad fur and hutch materials. You can ask vets to recommend a safe disinfectant cleaner for the hutch. They can also recommend specially formulated products which you apply to the rabbit to directly guard it – NEVER use household fly sprays or human insect repellents for rabbits or their houses, cages, runs or materials in them. A diet very rich in grass may cause softer, prolific droppings which attract flies. Check rabbits at least twice daily, especially feet and rear ends. Ask your vet if they have any extra tips. If you’ve done all the prevention methods you can find, but you still suspect flystrike, this is time to drop everything and take the rabbit straight to the vet.

slain syrphid fly by hejboel

Suspected Or Actual Flystrike

If you find any sore patches, or see maggots or strange looking little patches on your rabbits skin, the safest advice is rush it to the vets. You can remove maggots but we recommend getting the vet to do it – they’re very experienced, can give your rabbit a calming sedative – (and are frankly speaking much more likely to be calm than any of us here would be faced with maggots on our bunnies) making it a less harrowing procedure for the rabbit. They can treat the condition swiftly, calmly and administer any necessary antibiotics and provide good advice.

medical care by egahen

Flystrike is horrible but can be dealt with. Its usually green bottles, although other flies will have a go as well (1). Getting on top of the situation is essential and good hutch hygiene goes a long way towards this.

IMPORTANT: Please only see your vet if you have any concerns about rabbit care – this isn’t intended for diagnosis or treatment advice and can’t replace a vet’s expertise under any circumstances. Many thanks.

Kim Wryall

References

Galens Garden. Fly strike (Myiasis) [online]. Available at:

http://www.galensgarden.co.uk/herbivores/health/flystrike.php

Photo Credits

Sunny day with parasol http://www.sxc.hu/profile/lusi Fly http://www.sxc.hu/profile/hejboel Thermomiter and pills http://www.sxc.hu/profile/Egahen

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