Rabbits have been a part of human history for centuries. Originally classified as a large variety of rodents, rabbits were kept mainly as a source of meat and fur. As mainstream farming and ranching became more prevalent, rabbits have become less popular as meat animals and more popular as pets. As their popularity grows, so does the need for proper pet care, including pest control. Rabbit mites can cause severe infection in your rabbit and can be passed onto humans, so eliminating them as soon as possible is vital.
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Things you need
- Topical mite medication
- Small animal shampoo
- Rubber gloves
Observe your rabbit closely if you suspect he has mites. An infested rabbit may show signs of extreme itching, hair loss, and red, scaly patches along the back and neck. Separate the hair along the spine and look closely for flaking or dandruff, both indicators of an infestation.
Schedule an appointment with your veterinarian to have your rabbit examined. Your vet will check for signs of mites, and will take a skin scraping to diagnose a mite infestation. If your rabbit is infested, your vet will likely recommend a course of treatment including a topical medication containing selamectin, which has been proven safe for rabbits.
Clean the affected area with warm water and small animal shampoo to remove excess scaling and dandruff. Rabbits are naturally clean animals and do not handle full baths well, but a quick scrub with a wash cloth will remove the scaling and keep your rabbit from becoming chilled.
Apply the medication as directed by your veterinarian. Most topical creams are applied once or twice a day to the affected area until the mites clear up. Be sure to wear a pair of rubber gloves when handling and treating your rabbit to minimise the chance of contracting the mites yourself.
Disinfect your rabbit’s living area to eliminate the chance of reinfestation. Wash his bedding in hot water and bleach to remove mites from his sleeping area. A solution of bleach and water can be sprayed throughout your rabbit’s cage to kill any remaining mites. Allow the bedding and cage to dry and examine them closely, as it may take multiple cleanings to fully remove them.
Take your rabbit back to the vet at the end of his treatment regimen to confirm that the mites have been eliminated. Another scraping will be taken to confirm that treatment was successful and that you once again have a happy, healthy rabbit.
Tips and warnings
- Be sure to take care when handling your rabbit. Mites can be easily transmitted to humans and other pets, so an infested rabbit should be kept away from other pets.
- Never use commercial flea treatments on your rabbit. Ingredients such as permethrin and fipronil found in common flea treatments are extremely toxic and can cause convulsions and death in rabbits.
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