Mites in Rabbits: Prevent and Treat Parasite Infestation

They are almost everywhere: mites, fleas, ticks, and other animals are waiting for the next opportunity to settle in the fur of a host. Rabbits are not immune to the annoying parasites either. It is not only long-eared animals that are endangered when they are kept outdoors: Parasites can also be introduced into apartments in various ways. But don’t worry: With the appropriate measures and careful observation of the animals, an infestation can be counteracted quickly.

How Do I Know If My Rabbit Has Parasites?

Most ectoparasites, which include mites, ticks, and fleas, occupy the fur or upper layers of the skin of the animals in order to get there through stings or bites on the blood or body substances of their hosts. If you observe that your bum boys suddenly flinch and then begin to scratch their backs or backs, sometimes with adventurous contortions, you should become suspicious. This is especially true if the animals interrupt other activities and do not show any comfort behavior as with normal cleaning, but appear irritated and restless.

If there are also bloody or scabbed spots or if you notice abnormal behavior in the animal such as tilting the head, extreme sensitivity to touch, or hair loss, a parasite infestation can be assumed. A veterinarian should examine it as soon as possible: only an expert can assess which parasite is exactly plaguing the rabbit and which countermeasures are suitable. The best way to prevent an infestation with parasites is through strict hygiene: clean the cage and enclosure regularly, strengthen the defenses of your Mummler with suitable food, species-appropriate occupation, and exercise. In addition, eliminate unnecessary stress factors, because excitement also increases the susceptibility to parasites.

How Do I Recognize Mites in Rabbits?

In order to initiate suitable measures in the event of mite infestation, it is first necessary to determine which type of mite has spread in the rabbit fur. The vet usually scrapes the skin or takes a so-called copy, but the result can be deceptive: If no mite is found in the tissue sample, this does not necessarily mean that there is no infestation.

The best-known types of mites in rabbits are:

  • Grave mites: They live under the skin, where they feed on cell fluid and lymph. An infestation with these mites, medically called sarcoptic mange, is manifested by severe itching and scabby, sometimes bloody areas, which often appear in the lip and nose area. A grave mite infestation is very painful and, if left untreated, can lead to emaciation and death of the rabbit.
  • Ear mites mainly infest the inner ear area of ​​the animals, where they live on the surface of the skin, and puncture it in order to absorb tissue juices. Ear mites cause eczema, flaking, and inflammation in the ear area; the rabbits indicate their complaints by shaking their heads or by tilting their heads conspicuously.
  • Predatory mites live in the upper layers of the skin, prey on other mites, and feed on skin particles. Eggs are laid at the hairline. An infestation can be recognized by large scales in the fur, hair loss on the back and neck, and noticeable restlessness of the infected animals.
  • Predatory mites migrate from one animal to the next, so an infestation can spread very quickly.
  • Fur mites settle in the rabbit’s hair follicles and are probably the most inconspicuous of the mites; the infestation can go unnoticed for a long time. They preferentially attack young animals or weakened rabbits and can cause itching and eczema.
  • Autumn grass mites occur in batches, especially in autumn, and lurk in the grass for suitable host animals. They colonize the upper layers of the skin, where they feed on tissue fluids and blood. They tend to be in the head and ear area and cause itching, wheels, and hair loss.

What Can I Do If My Rabbit Has Fleas, Lice, or Ticks?

Other parasites that can affect rabbit skin are fleas, ticks, and lice. The latter is a subspecies of lice that cause hair loss, severe itching, and eczema. Hair lice and, to a certain extent, autumn grass mites can be treated with a flea protection spot-on agent or spray suitable for rabbits. Please note that you must not spray the rabbit. Apply the preparation indirectly with a brush or with disposable gloves. It is best to get advice from a veterinarian or pharmacist. You can counteract the tick infestation with the daily inspection of the rabbit fur and mechanical removal with tick tongs. Whether mites or other parasites: In addition to treating the animals, it is important that you thoroughly disinfect the rabbits’ surroundings. Hot vinegar water and disinfectants help prevent re-infestation.

What About Coccidia in Rabbits?

Coccidia is unicellular endoparasites that attack the intestines or bile of rabbits. During their life cycle, they form eggs, which are excreted by the rabbits in the feces. The eggs can easily be ingested by new host animals that come into contact with them, also via litter or food. As intestinal parasites, coccidia cause indigestion with flatulence and diarrhea, which can lead to emaciation and, if left untreated, to the death of the rabbit. If the liver is affected, it swells, the bile ducts become inflamed – the animal eats less and becomes emaciated.

Coccidia can be detected using fecal samples, coccidiosis is treated with medication, and a change in feed can be useful at the same time. Since coccidiosis is particularly favored by poor hygiene, embarrassing cleanliness in rabbit keeping is the most important preventive measure.

The treatment of a mite infestation is only possible with medication. As a rule, a spot-on agent is applied or a drug solution is injected. This must be done in consultation with the veterinarian and carried out professionally, as biocides are used. In order to combat the next generation of parasites that hatch from eggs after the first treatment, the treatment may have to be repeated.

Mary Allen

Written by Mary Allen

Hello, I'm Mary! I've cared for many pet species including dogs, cats, guinea pigs, fish, and bearded dragons. I also have ten pets of my own currently. I've written many topics in this space including how-tos, informational articles, care guides, breed guides, and more.

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