“Fly strike” is a problem primarily associated with rabbits, particularly domestic rabbits, throughout the warmer months.
If signs of this are apparent, immediate action should be taken as this disease develops rapidly. Flies are attracted to the smell of urine and faeces around a rabbit’s bottom. They lay eggs here which hatch out into maggots literally within a matter of hours. The maggots feast may then burrow into the rabbit’s skin. Below are some tips on how to help prevent your rabbit from catching this sometimes-fatal disease:
- Through the summer, check your rabbit’s bottom twice a day to ensure it is clean – any excess faeces should be bathed away·
- Clean your rabbit’s hutch daily to help reduce the smell of urine and faeces which attracts flies·
- Ask your vet for advice on a suitable diet for your rabbit to help prevent diarrhoea, which attracts flies. Cutting back on carbohydrate-rich grains and changing to pellets which contain more roughage can help. Rabbits should also be given plenty of fresh hay daily and have access to a grazing area.
- Ask your vet about preventative medication that can help keep flies away for up to 10 weeks.
- If you find maggots on your rabbit, contact your vet immediately for an emergency appointment. Many rabbits can be saved but if the maggots have eaten their way through the skin layer and into the flesh it is usually kinder to put the rabbit to sleep.
- If the maggots are successfully removed, your vet will treat the rabbit with antibiotics and painkillers. It should then be housed indoors and any wounds bathed until healed to prevent the possibility of the flies attacking again.