Mange in Rabbits

Written by lori gordon
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Introduction
  • Introduction

    Mange in Rabbits

    There are three different types of mange in rabbits. All are caused by mites, which are arachnids, like spiders. They vary in their degree of severity. All three types of mange are diagnosed by the same tests and treated similarly.

    Even indoor rabbits can suffer from mange. (rabbit image by Han van Vonno from Fotolia.com)

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    Sarcoptic Mange

    Sarcoptic mange is what most people mean when they use the term mange. It's caused by Sarcoptes scabiei, a burrowing mite. The female mite tunnels into the skin to lay her eggs. Sarcoptic mange first appears on ear edges, lips and nose, then spreads to other areas of the body.

    Sarcoptic mange is extremely itchy. (begging rascally rabbit image by Rheamy Higgins from Fotolia.com)

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    Ear Mange

    Ear mange is caused by Psoroptes cuniculi, which lives inside the ear. It can affect one or both ears, with crusts forming deep in the ear canal. An infested rabbit will shake his head and scratch his ears violently. It's extremely painful.

    In advanced cases of Psoroptes, the affected ear will fall down. (Wilson image by Chris Hart from Fotolia.com)

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    Fur Mange

    Mange caused by the Cheyletiella mite is called "walking dandruff" because when you look closely at the flakes on the skin, you can see them move. This mange may present with few clinical signs beyond skin flakes, itchiness and minor hair loss.

    Cheyletiella mites can infest dogs, cats and, temporarily, humans. (Rabbit image by Warren Millar from Fotolia.com)

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    Diagnosis

    Diagnosis of mange is done through skin scraping, cytology or skin biopsy.

    Mites can be difficult to find under the microscope, especially Sarcoptes. (Microscope image by Ellanorah from Fotolia.com)

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    Treatment

    All of these mange conditions are treated with the same medications: Ivermectin injections, Selamectin topical or Moxidectin, which comes as an injectible or oral medication. In most cases, multiple doses are necessary, spaced over several weeks.

    Treatment must be continued until no live mites are found. (pills, tablets and syringe image by NatUlrich from Fotolia.com)

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