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Archive for December, 2008

Fly Strike

Dear Rabbit Owners

Last Wednesday I arrived home later than usual and knew that my 8 cats would be waiting for me as it was well past their dinner time.  As the electronic gate opened, I was greeted by 8 hungry cats.  Then suddenly as they all scattered when I drove in, I saw that Marge was also there.  I don’t think she was wanting food as the garden is her dinner plate, but I think she liked the idea of being in on the action.  She is such a streetwise bun and all 8 cats have a healthy respect for her.

Now that summer is coming I want to discuss a very important issue.  Recently I have had quite a few rabbit owners mentioning that their rabbits have had maggots.  This condition is known as Fly Strike.  This can happen to a rabbit with the most vigilant owner and within 24 hours a once healthy rabbit can go into a terminal state of shock.
There are three things that attract flies.  They are moisture, warmth and odour.  An overweight rabbit that cannot clean himself can attract flies as well as a rabbit that has open sores or urine stains.  If your rabbit lives outdoors he has a higher chance of getting Fly Strike.  It only takes one fly to create the problem.   Once the maggots have consumed the skin, they go right on to the flesh, and once in the flesh, they produce toxins that create a state of shock.
There are a few warning signs that your rabbit is suffering from Fly Strike.  Firstly he may have ‘itchy skin’ type seizures.  This is caused by local nerve sensors on the surface of the body triggering a general or overall nerve reaction, resulting in a seizure. Rabbits are sensitive to surface irritations.  The second sign is listlessness.  A listless rabbit is not a good sign and usually means something is seriously wrong.  In the case of fly strike, the rabbit may already be in shock.  Lastly you may even see the maggots.  If you suspect your rabbit has Fly Strike he needs to be taken to the vet ASAP.
Prevention is always better than cure, so make sure that you try and eliminate as many flies as possible.  Never use insect sprays as this could poison your rabbit.  Fly catchers are a better option and also having screen doors and screens on windows. Another way to prevent Fly Strike is to keep your rabbit’s tail area clean and dry.  Don’t ever bath your rabbit or even submerge his rear end in water as this will just attract flies.  The best way to keep your bun clean is to use damp cotton wool to remove any droppings or urine stains. Lastly the best prevention is to do daily checks.  That way if a maggot problem arises, you can treat your rabbit early, before he goes into shock.
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