Posts Tagged ‘Fly Strike in Rabbits’

Recently, we have had a few bunnies in our clinic with ‘Fly Strike’. What is it? and how can we prevent this painful and distressing condition from affecting our pet rabbits?

Fly Strike is when flies are attracted to your rabbit and lay eggs on and around their bottom. These eggs turn into maggots, and the maggots burrow and feed on the rabbit’s skin tissue.

How Did This Happen to my Bunny?!! There is usually an underlying condition that causes your bunny to have a dirty bottom from soft faeces or thickened urine, or that causes lethargy so they do not move away from their droppings. Another cause may be that the cage has not been cleaned often enough and the flies are attracted to the dirty cage.

What are the Signs of Fly Strike?  Depression, not active as usual, staying in one corner or area of the cage, off food, flies are hanging around the cage, a wet or dirty bottom with wounds, a bad smell.

How is this Treated? By the time you notice wounds and maggots on your rabbit’s bottom, it is time to bring him/her to the vets. They will be painful and possibly in shock. When they get to the vets, they will need a general anaesthetic or sedation in order for the vet or vet nurse to pick out each and every maggot. Then we will wash their bottom in a broad spectrum antibacterial solution to make sure we wash the eggs and dead skin out. After the wash, we blowdry the fur, then clip all the fur carefully around the affected area (sometimes it can be on their legs, tail, stomach, and back as well as the bottom), and then we wipe the bare skin gently with antibacterial solution,  apply a healing gel into the wounds and antibiotic creams around the affected area. Your bunny may also be placed on fluids to help recover from dehydration and shock. It is quite labor intensive!

Daily antibiotic injections and creams are applied, as well as daily cleaning and inspection for any more maggots that may have evaded the first clean-out, until the vet decides that your rabbit’s wounds are healing and drying up nicely, and your rabbit is back to normal eating and drinking, as well as regular toileting and activity. This can take a few days or over a week at the clinic.

How Can I Prevent Fly Strike? The best way is the most obvious way, to check your bunny’s bottom daily! If it starts to have soft poos or a mucky bottom, then bring it to the vets to assess exactly why your bunny is starting to get soft poos. Also, pay attention to how active your bunny is naturally. In this way, you will quickly notice when he/she is starting to become more quiet and lethargic, which leads to sitting in their toileting areas, which attracts flies.

Clean out their dirty hay and newspapers a few times a week. Of course if you have more than one bunny in the cage, you will need to clean it more often. Keep their cage clean!

Teach them how to use a litter tray, so  you can easily clear that out daily. It’s easy! Just place clean newspaper and hay into a litter tray with some of their already soiled newspaper or hay (so they get the idea) and place it in the corner of their hutch where they like to toilet.

Place a mesh fly-screen in front of their cage wires so that flies cannot get in.

‘Buzz Off’ spray is available to purchase.  This is a an insecticide that keeps away flies and mosquitos that is safe for use around bunnies. You can spray it around the cage (but not areas where the bunny chews on the wood or onto their food area), and you can gently spritz a bit in the air around their fur so it settles in a mist onto the fur. It is not for rubbing into the skin.

Ok, there’s our advice on Fly Strike in Bunnies, hope it was useful! And we hope your bunny will never have to experience this distressing condition.

Some Pictures are below, but they may be upsetting to some people.  So please proceed with caution!


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