Mites are ectoparasites and are among the most common parasites in rabbits. In small numbers and in healthy animals, mites are generally harmless. They live on the rabbit and can also be found in hay or straw. In a weakened or sick animal, however, the mites can multiply explosively and cause problems.
The Causes of Mite Infestation in Rabbits
In addition to a weakened immune system, stress – for example from moving or socializing several animals – can lead to mite infestation. Poor husbandry conditions and poor hygiene can also be reasons for the proliferation of the parasites. If one rabbit is affected, the others are usually infected.
Symptoms – This is How You Recognize Mite Infestation in Rabbits
Since there are many different types of mites, an infestation manifests itself in different ways depending on the species. Rabbits can, for example, be attacked by grave mites, fur mites, and predatory mites, but also by bird mites, hair follicle mites, and autumn grass mites. Rabbits are also relatively often infected with ear mites.
Ear mites are mainly found in the skin folds of the auricle. In the case of ear mite infestation, veterinarians also speak of a so-called “ear mange”, in which – with severe infestation – clearly visible crusts and barks form on the ears of the animals.
Since the rabbits suffer from severe itching when infected, regardless of the type of mite, they often scratch themselves. They often injure their ears as a result, which allows bacteria to penetrate and promotes inflammation.
Other symptoms that indicate a mite infestation include dandruff or a rash. The itching makes it difficult for the animals to rest. As a rule, the stronger the mite infestation, the stronger the symptoms.
Diagnosis and Treatment
The respective veterinarian decides on the treatment. Since it is not a host-specific parasite, it can also be transmitted to other pets or humans. For this reason, rapid treatment is recommended. If you have several rabbits, all animals must be treated, even if they appear healthy at first glance.
In the case of light infestation, some owners recommend treatment with kieselguhr mite powder or silica powder from the drugstore. It is a natural product without chemical additives. However, the dust can irritate the respiratory tract, so for safety, you should discuss the application with your vet beforehand and, if necessary, exchange ideas with other rabbit keepers.
If the rabbit suffers from severe mite infestation – it scratches itself frequently and may already have encrusted wounds – a visit to the vet is inevitable anyway. The treatment is carried out, depending on the type of mite, with so-called “spot-on” agents that are distributed in the neck of the rabbit. Ivomec can also be given as an injection by the vet.
Warning: Some agents that are used on dogs and cats can be life-threatening for rabbits. Therefore, do not use any preparations that you have for other animals in the house.
The prognosis for an otherwise healthy rabbit is usually good. However, since increased mite infestation often occurs in animals that are already immune to weak or sick animals, a visit to the vet should not have been postponed.