Summertime is very welcome for most of us in the New Forest, but the warmer weather also brings some unwanted visitors… flies. Some flies will lay their eggs on other animals, especially if their coat is dirty or damp. When the eggs hatch the maggots will start eating whatever they can find, which usually involves the surrounding flesh!
Rabbits are at particularly high risk as they can be prone to mucky bottoms, which can be due to their unusual digestive system. Some of the droppings they produce, called caecotrophs, are soft and sticky and will be eaten again to allow full digestion of the grassy material they eat. If the bunny is arthritic, overweight, has a large dewlap, or has bad teeth, they may not be able to take their caecotrophs from their bottoms which can quickly lead to a sticky mess.
It is important to check rabbits twice daily in the summer, especially if they have any of the above problems which may predispose them to flystrike. Also watch out for loose droppings with the richer grass at this time of year. If you suspect your bunny has flystrike, remove any obvious maggots (tweezers are useful for the faint-hearted!) then you MUST contact us quickly, this is an emergency. Many rabbits need intravenous fluids to treat shock, and pain killers and antibiotics are needed to prevent infection and further suffering. Very severe cases cannot always be saved, so it is very important to prevent this awful condition rather than to rely on a cure.
In addition to careful checking and addressing potential problems, there are effective spot-on products which repel adult flies and kill any maggots which manage to hatch. Feel free to call in to see one of our consulting nurses for advice.
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