Flystrike is something every rabbit owner should dread and work hard at avoiding. Flystrike is when flies will lay their eggs on the soiled bottom area of a rabbit, the eggs then hatch into maggots and the maggots will eat your rabbit’s flesh. Follow these tips to help deter those awful flies from your bunnies.
1. Keep your rabbit clean
Check, check and check again that your rabbit’s bottom is always clean. Check everyday, especially through summer months, but make sure you check they are clean all year round too. Don’t think flystrike happens in the summer only, it doesn’t! Vets see cases of flystrike in rabbits throughout the year.
2. Check scent glands
Check your rabbits scent glands are clean too. Flies can lay the eggs deep into folds of skin, so always check very thoroughly.
3. Use protection
F10 and rearguard are products that you can use on your rabbit for the best protection against flystrike. We recommend the F10 wound spray with insecticide as it is excellent for helping to protect rabbits against flystrike. F10 is not as expensive as rearguard and you can ask your vets about it. A small bottle will last a long time and can be re-applied every week to 10 days, so you can be sure your rabbit is well protected.
4. Keep their homes spotless
Sweep up any loose droppings in their accommodation & remove any soiled areas where they sleep. With their litter trays always cover fresh droppings with hay and clean the trays out every other day.
5. Groom your rabbit
When you groom your rabbit make sure you groom their bottom area also. Brushing away excess fur around their bottom area will help to keep them cleaner and also help to avoid any droppings sticking to their fur.
6. Use essential oils
Citronella, Rosemary & Lavender oils can help deter flies from your rabbit’s accommodation. Use a good quality pure essential oil only. Dab drops of oil around your rabbit’s enclosure but only in places they cannot reach. Keep it away from the rabbit’s hay, food, water & bedding.
7. Grow some herbs
Herbs like Basil, Rosemary and Mint also help deter flies. Try growing some in pots and place in front of your rabbit’s accommodation. Remember to move the pots when your rabbits are out and about as you may find you have no herbs left!
8. Keep the cobwebs
Don’t dust away cobwebs in your rabbit’s enclosure as they will help capture those horrible flies!
Never delay in getting your rabbit to a vet if you do suspect flystrike.
*If your rabbit seems quiet and not their usual self or if they are showing any signs of discomfort, check them immediately.
How to clean your rabbit
- Use baby wipes or damp tissues to wipe them clean
- Use a metal pet comb to gently brush away any soiled fur
- Never pull at clumps of dry poop around your rabbit’s bottom as you could tear their skin. Dampen it to help soften it first and then gently remove it a little at a time. If it is stuck closely to your bunnies skin, then use your fingers rather than a comb
- If your rabbit’s bottom is heavily soiled, then you may need to bathe their bottom.
How to bathe your rabbit’s bottom:
- Place a tea towel or small towel in the bottom of an empty litter tray
- Pour a little luke warm water into the tray (no deeper than 2 inches)
- Place your rabbit into the tray and use your hand or the wet towel to wipe around your rabbit’s bottom. Keep doing this until clean
- No need to use any pet shampoo, just water is needed.
- Once clean, lift your rabbit out onto a dry towel and dry them as much as you can. Use tissue paper to absorb the water from the fur also
- You need to get your rabbit as dry as possible to stop their skin from chafing. Use a hairdryer set on low if your rabbit doesn’t get spooked by it.
PLEASE NOTE: Don’t ever bath rabbits like you would a dog & never ever place a rabbit in cold water – they can die of shock.
*To see how to clean a rabbit watch this brilliant video