Fly Strike

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What is flystrike?

Rabbits are said to have "fly strike" (myiasis) when flies lay eggs upon them and the eggs then hatch into maggots. Some species of flies (e.g. bluebottles and greenbottles) produce maggots that can very rapidly mature and eat into flesh within 24 hours. This condition if left untreated can be fatal in rabbits. If you notice any soreness around your rabbits bottom or see fly eggs which are about the size of a grain of rice or maggots please call us immediately to book your rabbit in for treatment. Oundle can be reached on 01832 273521 or Thrapston on 01832 732632.

Is my rabbit at risk?

Any rabbit can get flystrike but certain factors can increase your rabbits risk. Fly strike is more common during the summer months but can occur at any time of the year. Rabbits who cannot keep their bottoms clean are also at a higher risk of developing fly stike.

Rabbits with the following problems are at especially high risk:

  • Overweight or obese rabbits
  • Long-haired rabbits
  • Rabbits with dental Problems
  • Rabbits whith runny/weepy eyes
  • Females with large dewlaps
  • Rabbits with folds of skin around their tummy or bottom
  • Rabbits with wounds or discharging abcesses
  • Old rabbits
  • Rabbits with diarrhoea or loose stools
  • Rabbits living in unsanitary conditions

 It is very important to keep your rabbis living quarters clean and dry as flies are attracted by damp, smelly conditions.

Warning Signs.

High risk rabbits should have their bottoms checked twice daily, especially in summer months. If your bunny is quiet and listless; or appear restless and shows signs of discomfort, pick them up immediately and check for eggs and maggots.

What to do if you find your rabbit has maggots.

When checking your rabbit if you discover he/she has fly eggs and/or maggots keep calm and give us a call immediately and let us know your rabbit has fly strike. Fly strike is a true emergency and treatment should not wai. At the Oundle and Thraspton veterinary surgery our vets are on call 24 hours a day 7 days a week simply call Oundle on 01832 273521 or Thraspton on 01832 732632.

Providing it does not delay your visit to the vets pick off any visible maggots with tweezers. DO NOT dunk your rabbit in water: your vet may want to shave your rabbit and wet fur clogs clippers.

How is fly strike treated?

Flystrike is a very serious condition and is, sadly often fatal. However, rabbits can make a full recovery if the condition is found and treated quickly. Flyblown rabbits are usually in pain and can go into severe shock, and need skilled veterinary and nursing care.

Treatment often consits of:

  • Clipping away the fur around the bottom area so that the vet can remove any external maggots. This usually requires a sedation or a general anaesthetic.
  • Suportive care including intravenour or subcutaneous fluids to help prevent shock
  • Antibiotics to help try to prevent infection
  • Pain Relief
  • Anti-parasitic drugs may also be used to try and kill any remaining concealled maggots

Prevention.

Prevention is better than cure and if your rabbit has recovered from flystrick it is very important to make sure that you do everything you can to prevent the same thing from happening again. Tips to help prevent flystrike include:

  • Check your rabbit is eating a healthy diet click here for more information on what your rabbit should be eating
  • Remove soiled bedding every day and disinfect hutches weekly
  • Check our rabbit at least once a day: "high-risk rabbits" need twice daily bottom check in warmer weather.
  • Don't forget that house rabbits can also be at risk
  • Physical barriers suchas adding fly-screen to hutches and runs to prevent flies gettin to your rabbits
  • Fly killers and natural repellents can also be used to help prevent flies from getting to your rabbit. To find out more about natural fly repellants and fly repelling methods click here.
  • Speak to one of our vets/nurses about specific fly strike preventative medication

There are many things that can be done to prevent flystrike occuring in your pet rabbit. Remember all rabbits needs regular checks expecially in warmer weather, healthy rabbits, eating a suitable diet and living in clean conditions are at a much lower risk of flystrike. Remember high risk rabbits as mentioned above need extra preventative methods to help prevent flystrike and should also be treated for any under lying condtions that are putting them into the high risk category.

If you would like any more advice on flystrike or advice on further preventative treatment please call and speak to one of our qualified veterinary nurses. Call Oundle on 01832 273521 or Thrapston on  01832 732632.