Parasites are small animals that rely on another to complete their lifecycle. The most commonly encountered are fleas, ear mites, fur mites and intestinal worms. It is very important these are controlled to prevent irritation, debilitation, weight loss and the spread of infectious diseases.
Fleas help to spread diseases such as Myxomatosis. Indoor rabbits are more likely to come into contact with cat or cat fleas, and outdoor rabbits are more likely to come into contact with rabbit fleas. It is important to treat the environment as well as the rabbit to ensure reinfestation doesn’t occur. Check for little black specks of flea dirt in the coat. If you are not sure if what you find is flea dirt then place the sample on a white piece of paper and add a drop of water. If you see the sample dissolving or red coming from the edges, then this is positive for flea dirt.
These are little mites that live on the surface of the skin and feed on serum beneath the skin surface. They cause hair loss, scurfy skin and can be itchy.
Ear mites are visible to the naked eye and can cause excessive wax build up. They can cause irritation and so the rabbit may shake his or her head, or rub ears along the ground. In severe cases sedation is needed to get rid of all the mites.
Rabbits get pin worms, and are about 5mm long. They can be found in the faeces or around the anus of the rabbit. Regular worming 2 to 4 times a year is advised to control any worm burden.