A very distressing condition that can affect rabbits in the summer months
Fly Strike is a very distressing condition that can affect rabbits in the summer months when the weather is warmer. It is caused when flies lay their eggs on susceptible animals and the eggs hatch out into maggots which start to feed on the poor rabbit. Usually you will notice maggots or nasty open wounds around your rabbit’s tail and bottom. You may notice your rabbit frantically grooming all the time in an attempt to get rid of the maggots or he may be feeling so poorly that he is not eating and very quiet.
If you find maggots on your rabbit it is an emergency as they can cause a lot of damage very quickly and it is important that you take your rabbit to your vet practice immediately as without rapid treatment affected rabbits can die.
To avoid fly strike happening to your rabbit it is important to make sure your rabbit’s environment is clean. The hutch should be regularly cleaned out and we recommend that during the summer months you inspect your rabbit’s bottom for cleanliness and any signs of fly eggs at least once a day, ideally twice a day as the eggs hatch within hours in warm weather. If your rabbit’s bottom is dirty you should seek veterinary advice as this can be a sign of underlying disease.
It may be caused by inappropriate diet, dental disease, diarrhoea, urinary or genital problems, obesity or spinal problems such as arthritis and old age which mean the rabbit does not groom itself as well. If the dirty bottom can be treated then fly strike is less likely to occur.
There are also products available from veterinary surgeries which can be used to prevent or slow the progression of fly strike.