Rabbits that become afflicted with mange are actually being preyed upon by sarcoptic mites that burrow into the skin, most commonly around the ears, nose and mouth. If left untreated, the condition causes the rabbit to become very itchy and uncomfortable, and white, crusty lesions that produce a foul odour will begin to appear around the rabbit's head. Luckily, the condition is easily treatable with the proper veterinary care.
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Things you need
- Clean bedding
- Prescription topical ointment
- Dishwashing liquid
Take the rabbit to a veterinarian that specialises in the care of exotic pets (any animal other than a dog or cat) as soon as you notice signs of a parasitic infection, like excessive itching, hair loss or dry, scaly skin. The vet will typically perform a skin scrape right away to determine under a microscope the exact kind of mite that is present. Mange is a condition caused by untreated mite infestation.
Ask your veterinarian about medicinal injections that can help kill the mites infecting your rabbit. The drug most commonly used to treat a range of skin problems in small mammals, including those caused by mites, is called Ivermectin, which is given via injection by the veterinarian.
Follow up the injection by applying whatever topical ointment is prescribed by the veterinarian to the affected areas. One of the most effective products is called Selamectin, which is found in the dog- and cat-geared flea products Revolution and Stronghold, but not in Frontline, which has been proven to be fatal to rabbits. Selamectin lasts longer in the rabbit's system than the initial Ivermectin injection, according to Rabbit Health Central.
Clean the rabbit's habitat thoroughly with warm water and dishwashing liquid every day until the rabbit is completely cured of the mite infestation. Changing the bedding daily will help prevent mites that drop off during treatment from breeding and causing a recurrence of symptoms. According to the Pet Informed website, many pet stores sell rabbit-safe insecticide products that will help to effectively decontaminate rabbit ear mite infestations in a habitat.
Keep the rabbit's stress levels low after the infestation clears up to help prevent a recurrence. Small pets are more susceptible to disease and parasitic attack when they are stressed. Providing the rabbit with a clean and roomy habitat, a proper diet and plenty of exercise will help keep it healthy throughout its lifespan.
Tips and warnings
- As a rabbit is being treated for mites or mange, the dying parasites will fall off the animal and continue to survive in its habitat. During topical and internal treatment for these parasitic infestations, the animal's cage and bedding must be cleaned daily to prevent the mites from taking over once again.
- Because mites are so easily transferred from one animal to another, it is extremely important to isolate the infected rabbit from other rabbits it may share an enclosure with until it is completely cured of the infestation.
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