As a bunny owner, your pet is your pride and joy. Unfortunately, rabbits can be delicate animals – healthy one day, and seriously ill the next. It's important to know about common rabbit illnesses so you can protect your bunny and take action quickly if he becomes sick. A very serious ailment you need to know about is fly strike.
What is fly strike?
Fly strike is a serious ailment in which flies begin to lay their eggs on your bunny's skin. The eggs hatch into larvae (maggots) and work their way under the skin. They can increase in number very quickly, causing serious skin peeling, bacterial infections, and, if left untreated, death of the rabbit as the maggots eat the skin all the way down to the bone.
How can you tell if your bunny has fly strike?
If you see a maggot or many maggots on your bunny, he has fly strike. The condition most often appears in areas where the bunny's skin and fur are likely to be wet, such as on its bottom or under the back legs. Many times, rabbits with fly strike quickly become listless and lethargic. Your bunny may not want to move and may stop eating. He may yelp or try to bite you if you try to touch the sore, maggot-infested area.
How should you treat fly strike?
Fly strike is considered an emergency. Call a vet clinic like the Canine Center, and take your bunny in right away. If it's after hours, take your rabbit to the emergency clinic. Your vet will probably need to sedate the rabbit in order to clean the area up properly. He or she will shave the affected area and will then need to use tweezers to remove the maggots. The wound may be treated with various antibiotic creams and you may be given an antibiotic to give to your bunny in the coming days.
How can you prevent fly strike?
There are two main conditions that need to occur for your rabbit to get fly strike: your rabbit must be wet or dirty, and there must be flies. Make sure your rabbits cage is cleaned often so he does not get dirty. Use a water bottle rather than a bowl so your bunny does not end up getting soaked with water. Also, if your bunny has a hard time cleaning himself after using the bathroom, you may need to wipe his bottom clean a few times per day. Keep flies away by keeping screens on your windows and by hanging up fly strips if you ever see flies in the area.