Rabbits: Recognizing and treating mites

Mites are relatively common in rabbits. The so-called ectoparasites are usually harmless in small numbers in healthy animals; It becomes dangerous for weakened or sick animals, on which the mites multiply rapidly and can lead to health problems. Here you can read how you can identify and treat mites in rabbits.

The vet takes a close look at the mite infested rabbit and then prescribes a suitable mite control product - Shutterstock / Sean Locke Photography

The vet takes a close look at the mite infested rabbit and then prescribes a suitable mite control product – Shutterstock / Sean Locke Photography

Mites can be found in most rabbit hutches and pens, but they don’t always have to be a problem. A small population of the parasites is permanently found on many healthy animals, but they rarely cause trouble. However, when the predatory mites multiply, they sometimes put a heavy strain on the rabbits. This results in symptoms such as itching and hair loss.

Causes of mites in rabbits

There are many different types of mites that can affect your rabbits including fur mites, burrow mites, predatory mites, hair follicle mites, fowl mites, fall grass mites and ear mites. Mite infestations can occur when rabbits are struggling with a weakened immune system and are therefore vulnerable. Poor housing conditions and poor hygiene can also lead to mites multiplying explosively on rabbit skin. Another cause or another factor that makes the lagomorphs susceptible to mites is stress, for example due to unfavorable socialization or as a result of moving.

Mite infestation in rabbits: recognize the symptoms

Irrespective of the type of mite, rabbits always suffer from mild to severe itching after an infestation, which you as the owner will recognize from increased scratching. Unfortunately, scratching – especially in the area of ​​the ears – can cause injuries in which bacteria settle, which leads to inflammation. Other symptoms characteristic of mite infestation are a rash (redness), dandruff and hair loss. Many affected rabbits are also restless and overtired because the symptoms keep them from resting.

A special feature of ear mites is that crusts and bark usually form on the animals; In case of an infestation with the ear mites that accumulate in the skin folds of the auricle, one also speaks of the ear mange.

"Om-nom-nom, that's delicious"finds this rabbit in the green field – Shutterstock / Sergey Kudryavtsev

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Treating mites in rabbits

Take a mite-infested rabbit to the vet. Prompt treatment is important because the mites can be transmitted from rabbits to other pets and humans. Don’t panic: Since humans are dead-end hosts, no further problems are to be expected apart from temporary redness. Important: If there is a mite infestation in the rabbit enclosure, you must always have the other rabbits in the enclosure or outdoor enclosure treated as well – even if they are not (yet) showing any symptoms.

A light mite infestation can be treated with diatomaceous earth mite powder or silica powder from the drugstore. The advantage: the natural products do not require any chemical additives. The downside: the dust can sometimes cause irritation to the respiratory tract – be sure to discuss treatment with your veterinarian. In the case of a severe mite infestation, the veterinarian will prescribe an appropriate remedy. The so-called “spot-on” agents, for example, are usually distributed on the rabbit’s neck. Tip: Most liquid agents are applied wet – simply spraying often does not bring the desired result. Even distribution or rubbing in has proven itself. Follow the veterinarian’s instructions carefully during therapy.

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