What is flystrike?
Flystrike is a potentially fatal condition which occurs when flies lay their eggs around a rabbit's anus. The eggs then hatch into maggots which mature and eat away at the surrounding flesh. In the summer, this whole process can take as little as a few hours, so it's advisable that rabbits are checked at least twice a day.
Symptoms include eggs and maggots around a rabbit's anus, wounds and skin loss.
What causes flystrike?
Flystrike is caused by maggots burrowing into flesh around the rabbit's anus. Pets suffering from obesity, dental problems, diarrhoea, arthritis and skin wounds are at high risk of flystrike as flies are attracted to rabbits suffering from dirty bottoms or wet fur. Rabbits living in dirty hutches are also susceptible, as flies like damp and smelly conditions.
If you think your rabbit has flystrike, remove the visible maggots with tweezers and call your vet immediately. Your vet will be able to clip away the fur and remove the remainder of the maggots. Rabbits with flystrike are often given antibiotics to help prevent infection and some vets also use anti-parasitic products to try and penetrate the skin and kill any remaining maggots.
To help prevent flystrike it's advisable to remove dirty bedding every day and disinfect hutches weekly. Rabbits should be checked twice a day and fly-screens on hutches and runs can help prevent flies laying their eggs on pets. Products are available to prevent fly strike from your vet or pet store.