Flystrike is an unpleasant and distressing condition which occurs in the summer months when flies lay their eggs around a rabbits rear end. The eggs hatch into maggots which then feed on the rabbit by burrowing into its flesh. Sounds horrible? It is! Prevention is better than cure, some rabbits can be successfully treated although unfortunately for some rabbits this condition can be fatal.
As terrible as it sounds, there are several steps you can take as an owner of a pet rabbit, to prevent flystrike and ensure you know what to look for if the condition arises.
Examine your rabbit
Examine your rabbit each day to check their fur is clean, dry and not matted especially around the rear end. If you see any signs of maggots, remove them using soap and warm water, thoroughly dry the affected area and contact your vet immediately. A rabbit with urine or faeces around their bottom will attract flies making them far more at risk of flystrike.
Ensure your rabbit has a balanced, complete high fibre diet to avoid digestive disturbances and dental problems. Soft faeces clumped around the bottom area are often an indication of lack of fibre. Lack of fibre in the diet also means a rabbits teeth do not wear down properly and become overgrown. Teeth which are overgrown prevent normal grooming and can also lead to dirty matted fur, which again increases the risk of flystrike.
Feed complete food from your vet to ensure that his/her diet is balanced with the correct amounts of fibre and protein and ensure your rabbit eats plenty of hay. They should always have fresh water available.
Change soiled bedding every day. Use plenty of good quality absorbent bedding in your rabbit’s toilet area to avoid excess moisture.
Once a week, thoroughly clean and disinfect the hutch. Remove everything from the hutch and disinfect with a purpose made solution suitable for use with small animals. Allow to dry and put in clean bedding
Use Rear Guard to help prevent infestation of maggots especially during the summer months. Rearguard is available to purchase at all reputable pet stores.
Effective hutch hygiene, feeding a high fibre diet and using Rear Guard is by far the best defense against flystrike. Examining your rabbit daily is crucial in order to spot the signs of flystrike.