Rabbit diseases to watch out for

There are two common and particularly unpleasant rabbit diseases that can’t be prevented with a vaccination. Here’s how to prevent them and spot the signs.

Fly Strike

  • Occurring in the summer, Fly Strike is caused by a rabbit’s bottom being unclean, usually as a result of a poor diet, being overweight or inactive.
  • It can also occur when a rabbit is unable to eat the soft poos (caecotrophs) that they normally produce during the first stage of digestion. Just so you know, it’s completely normal – and beneficial – for a rabbit to re-digest this material, as it gives them the maximum nutrients from their food.
  • If rabbits get a dirty bottom, this attracts flies who lay their eggs in their matted fur. The eggs hatch into maggots, which grow and survive by feeding on the rabbit. It’s a very painful experience for the rabbit and can be fatal.

How to avoid it:

  • Check your rabbit’s bottom at least once, ideally twice, a day, especially in summer.
  • Don’t feed too much rabbit mix (think ‘hay’!) to ensure that your rabbit’s hutch is kept very clean and dry.
  • Apply ‘Rear-guard’ to your rabbit during the summer months to prevent maggots developing.
  • Use fly strips around their hutch.
  • Talk to us if your rabbit develops diarrhoea or a dirty rear end.

Encephalitozoon Cuniculi

  • This parasite has recently been found to be very common in the rabbit population, with over 50% of animals being infected, usually from their mother.
  • In many cases the rabbit shows no signs but the parasite can attack the brain and urinary system.
  • Rabbits can develop head tilt, paralysis and kidney disease. This disease can be fatal, and by the time the tell-tale signs develop it can be too late.

How to avoid it:

We recommend treating all rabbits with a course of Lapizole, a tasty aniseed flavour liquid, which they seem to love. A 28-day course has been shown to clear the pesky parasite.