FOR most of us, flies are a minor inconvenience of summer, but for rabbits they’re a serious problem.
Blow flies’ eggs, laid around the rabbit’s rear end, quickly hatch into maggots in the summer heat and literally overnight your poor rabbit can become a walking meal for these repulsive larvae, often with catastrophic results.
Healthy animals generally groom themselves regularly, but if your rabbit is less active, or has a problem with soiling, it is more vulnerable to fly strike.
So first and foremost we advise our clients to get into the habit of checking their rabbits’ rear quarters twice daily during the summer.
Soiling can be related to poor feeding so make sure your rabbit had a balanced diet with plenty of fresh grass or hay. Other causes include intestinal parasites and urinary tract disease, while rabbits that are overweight, arthritic or have poor teeth may have trouble cleaning themselves. If you suspect any of these problems, do get them checked out with your vet. You can also make an appointment with a veterinary nurse to clip and clean the area for you.
Good hygiene is important, too.
Make sure your rabbit’s run is cleaned regularly so it does not have to sit in damp or dirty conditions. If the run is in an enclosed space, then fly papers and repellents based on natural oils can help.
Outside, many herbs seem to deter flies and you can find a useful list at www.rabbitwelfare.co.uk
You can buy products to apply to your rabbit which help prevent fly strike and your vet can advise you on these, but remember they are no substitute for other preventative measures.
If you are unlucky enough to find maggots on your bunny, you should treat it as an emergency and see your vet straight away, but following these steps should stop that from happening.