Flystrike in Rabbits: Prevention and Timely Treatment Tips

Flystrike is a devastating and potentially life-threatening condition that can affect rabbits, particularly during warm weather.

It occurs when the Lucilia sericata, or common green bottle fly, is attracted to damp fur soiled with urine or soft feces on your rabbit.

These flies lay their eggs on the affected area, which then hatch into maggots that burrow under the skin and feed on flesh.

As a rabbit owner, it’s crucial to be aware of the signs of flystrike and take preventative measures to keep your furry friend healthy.

Some key symptoms to watch for include agitation, damp or dirty fur near the rabbit’s behind, lack of appetite, and lethargy.

One effective way of preventing flystrike is by ensuring your rabbit’s living environment is clean, properly ventilated, and free of dampness or excess moisture.

Noticing any symptoms of flystrike in your rabbit should prompt immediate action, as early intervention and treatment are essential for a successful recovery.

If caught early, it may be possible to treat the infestation. However, more severe cases will require consultation with a veterinarian.

Additionally, understanding other common rabbit illnesses and their symptoms is essential to maintaining your rabbit’s overall well-being.

Key Takeaways:

  • Flystrike is a potentially life-threatening condition in rabbits caused by fly larvae infesting their fur, attracted to damp fur soiled with urine or soft feces.
  • Symptoms to watch for include agitation, damp or dirty fur near the rabbit’s behind, lack of appetite, and lethargy.
  • Prevention involves maintaining a clean, dry living environment for your rabbit, regular grooming, and vigilance during warm weather.
  • Immediate action is necessary if you suspect flystrike, as early intervention and treatment are essential for recovery.
  • Flystrike is not contagious between rabbits but can be more likely in those with poor hygiene, open wounds, or other health issues.
  • Treatment involves a vet’s diagnosis, maggots removal, antibiotics, pain relief, and sometimes surgery.
  • Prevention strategies include maintaining cleanliness, a balanced diet, regular grooming, and using fly repellents.
  • Certain factors like obesity, age, and existing health issues can make rabbits more vulnerable to flystrike.
  • Flystrike is more common during warm weather, so extra care is needed in the summer months.
  • Recovery from flystrike requires maintaining cleanliness, proper veterinary care, and monitoring your rabbit’s health and hygiene.

Understanding Flystrike

Flystrike is a dangerous and painful condition that affects rabbits, caused by fly larvae infesting their fur.

It happens when female flies lay their eggs on the rabbit’s skin, attracted by damp fur soiled with urine or soft feces. These eggs hatch into maggots, which can cause severe harm to the rabbit’s health.

When the eggs hatch, the larvae, also known as maggots, begin to feed on the rabbit’s flesh, leading to a condition called myiasis.

This can result in severe discomfort, infection, and even death if not treated promptly. Prevention is the key to avoiding flystrike, but you should also know the signs and treatments if it does occur.

Some key factors to remember regarding flystrike include:

  • Wildlife exposure: Rabbits allowed to run outdoors during the summer months are more susceptible to the infestation.
  • Attraction: The common green bottle fly (Lucilia sericata) is the main culprit, drawn to damp, soiled fur.
  • Health: Generally, healthy and well-cared-for rabbits are less likely to be affected by flystrike.

To prevent flystrike, ensure your rabbit’s living environment is clean, dry, and free from feces.

Regular grooming is also essential to keep their fur clean and free from tangling or matting. In warm weather, check your rabbit daily for signs of flystrike, such as:

  1. Reddened or inflamed skin
  2. Damp or dirty fur
  3. A strong, foul smell

In case you notice any signs of flystrike, immediately contact your vet for treatment, as the condition can worsen rapidly.

Early intervention is crucial to minimize complications and improve your rabbit’s chances of recovery.

While prevention is always preferred, being knowledgeable about flystrike and its risks can help you better care for your furry companion.

Causes of Flystrike in Rabbits

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Flystrike, also known as myiasis, is a condition in rabbits caused by flies laying eggs on their fur, which then hatch into maggots that burrow under their skin and feed on their flesh.

This can lead to severe damage and potentially fatal infections. There are several factors that contribute to the risk of flystrike in rabbits:

  • Soiled or damp fur: Flies are attracted to damp fur soiled with urine or soft faeces. Make sure to keep your rabbit’s living area clean and dry, and ensure that your rabbit maintains good hygiene. Check for any fur loss as this can also contribute to the risk of flystrike.
  • Wounds or dirty skin: Open wounds or areas of skin dirtied by blood, urine, or feces become attractive sites for flies to lay their eggs. If your rabbit has an injury, treat it promptly and monitor the area closely for signs of flystrike.
  • Poor grooming: If a rabbit cannot or does not groom itself around the base of the tail and anus, this can lead to feces or urine-contaminated hair that attracts flies. Encourage your rabbit to groom and assist them if they struggle to do so.

Some rabbits might be at a higher risk of developing flystrike due to certain factors:

  1. Diarrhoea or dirty litter: Diarrhoea can cause a rabbit’s bottom to become soiled, which attracts flies. Make sure to address any digestive issues and keep the litter area clean.
  2. Overweight rabbits: Obese rabbits may struggle to groom themselves effectively, especially around their bottom area, leading to soiled fur.
  3. Dental problems: A rabbit with dental issues might have difficulty grooming themselves, which can result in unkempt fur.
  4. Poor diet: Feeding your rabbit an inadequate diet could lead to several health problems that might make them more susceptible to flystrike.

Remember to pay close attention to your rabbit’s living conditions, health, and grooming habits to minimize the risk of flystrike.

Notable Symptoms

Flystrike in rabbits can be a serious issue, and it is important to be aware of the notable symptoms that may indicate your pet is suffering.

In order to help your rabbit and ensure its well-being, here are some key symptoms to watch out for:

  • Lethargic behavior: Rabbits suffering from flystrike may appear quiet, lethargic, and may adopt a hunched posture. If you notice that your rabbit is less active than usual, it could be a sign of flystrike.
  • Lack of appetite: A rabbit with flystrike may refuse food and drink. Pay close attention to any changes in your rabbit’s usual eating habits, as this could indicate a problem.
  • Wet fur and fur loss: One sign of flystrike is patches of wet fur and fur loss, often around the back end. Inspecting your rabbit’s fur regularly can help you spot this symptom early.
  • Skin wounds or sores: Flystrike can cause open wounds or sores on your rabbit’s skin, which may contain fly eggs or maggots. Regularly checking your rabbit’s skin can help you detect these wounds.
  • Collapse: In severe cases, a rabbit affected by flystrike may experience a collapse due to the pain and discomfort. This is a serious symptom, and you should seek immediate veterinary attention if you observe this in your rabbit.

By carefully watching for these symptoms and taking immediate action if you notice any of them, you can prevent flystrike from becoming a life-threatening issue.

Additionally, always ensure that you’re keeping your rabbit’s living environment clean, as this will significantly reduce the risk of flystrike.

Remember, the health and well-being of your pet rabbit is in your hands, and being observant and proactive can make all the difference.


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Is Flystrike Contagious in Rabbits?

Flystrike is a painful and potentially fatal condition in rabbits, but you might wonder if it’s contagious.

In this section, we’ll discuss whether flystrike can spread among rabbits, and what you should know to protect your furry friends.

Fortunately, flystrike itself is not contagious. It occurs when flies lay their eggs on a rabbit’s damp or dirty fur, often around the bottom, genitals, tail, belly, or back areas.

The eggs then hatch into maggots, which feed on the rabbit’s tissue.

While the condition isn’t directly transmitted between rabbits, the factors that increase a rabbit’s risk for flystrike can be present in multiple animals if they share living conditions or have similar health issues.

To lower the risk of flystrike in your rabbits, here are some crucial steps to follow:

  1. Regular cleaning: Ensure that your rabbits’ living space is clean and dry. Remove soiled bedding and droppings daily, and provide fresh hay or other appropriate materials for them to rest on.
  2. Diet and grooming: A well-balanced diet, including plenty of fiber, helps to maintain healthy digestion and prevents diarrhea that might attract flies. Regular grooming, paying special attention to the areas prone to flystrike, also keeps your rabbits’ fur clean and dry.
  3. Monitor for health issues: Keep an eye on your rabbits for any signs of injury, skin irritation, or urinary issues, as these can make them more attractive to flies looking for a place to lay their eggs.
  4. Fly control: Implement measures for effective fly control around your rabbits’ living areas, such as fly traps or screens on windows and doors.

By taking these steps, you can significantly reduce the likelihood of flystrike in your rabbits, helping to keep them happy, healthy, and safe from this harmful condition.

Diagnosis and Treatment

If you suspect your rabbit has flystrike, immediately take them to a vet for an accurate diagnosis. The vet will assess the rabbit’s condition and severity of the infestation.

During the examination, the vet will check for wound areas, ease the rabbit’s pain, and determine if there are any infections.

Treatment will vary depending on the severity of the infestation. For mild cases, your veterinarian may prescribe antibiotics and medication to manage any potential infections.

It’s essential to keep the rabbit’s environment clean and free from flies during this period to prevent further infestation.

In more severe cases, your rabbit may be sedated or given an anaesthetic to allow the veterinarian to remove all the maggots and clean the infected areas thoroughly.

Your rabbit will also receive pain relief and other necessary medications. A more extensive wound may require surgery to clean and repair it.

Some treatment options include:

  1. Antibiotics to prevent infection
  2. Medication to treat existing infections
  3. Pain relief
  4. Fluid drips to support hydration and recovery
  5. Surgery if necessary

During treatment, the vet will closely monitor your rabbit’s condition, including their rear end, fluid balance, and overall health.

Unfortunately, if the infestation is too severe and the rabbit’s chances of survival are low, the vet may discuss euthanasia as an option to alleviate the rabbit’s pain and suffering.

To be prepared for such situations, it is essential to have a rabbit first aid kit on hand. This kit can help you manage minor issues and support your rabbit until they receive proper veterinarian care.

Remember, prevention is better than cure, so regularly check your rabbit, clean its living area, and apply fly repellents to minimize the risk of flystrike.

Prevention Strategies

To prevent flystrike in rabbits, it’s essential to maintain a clean living environment and practice good hygiene.

Regularly clean your rabbit’s hutch or cage, removing any soiled bedding and droppings. This not only helps to deter flies but also keeps your rabbit healthy.

A balanced diet is crucial for your rabbit’s overall health. Provide a variety of high-quality hay, leafy greens, and a limited number of pellets as recommended for their age and size.

A proper diet prevents obesity, dental issues, and digestive problems, which can make rabbits more susceptible to flystrike.

Grooming your rabbit regularly is another essential aspect of prevention. Brushing your rabbit helps remove loose fur that might attract flies and cause matting.

In addition, keep an eye on their teeth, as dental problems can lead to difficulty eating and a dirty bottom, which can attract flies.

Incorporating fly repellent sprays or other deterrents into your rabbit care routine can also provide an extra layer of protection.

Make sure to use pet-safe products and follow the manufacturer’s instructions. Placing fly traps or screens around the rabbit’s living area can be beneficial as well.

Observe your rabbit’s behavior for any signs of discomfort or changes in their grooming habits. These can be indicators of underlying health issues that can lead to flystrike if left untreated.

Addressing health concerns early helps to minimize risks.

Clipping your rabbit’s fur around their bottom and tail can make it more difficult for flies to lay eggs.

Be gentle and cautious when trimming, ensuring not to hurt your rabbit or cut too close to the skin.

In terms of supportive care, you can:

  1. Provide a stress-free environment
  2. Ensure access to clean water at all times
  3. Check for signs of flystrike or other health issues twice daily, especially during warmer months

By following these prevention strategies, you can significantly reduce the risk of flystrike in your rabbit and ensure their health and well-being.

Additional Vulnerabilities

When it comes to flystrike in rabbits, certain factors can make your bunny more susceptible to this painful condition.

These include weight, obesity, age, and existing health issues such as bladder stones and arthritis.

Weight and Obesity: Overweight rabbits may struggle to clean themselves, specifically around the bottom area, where flies often lay their eggs. This can lead to damp, soiled fur which attracts flystrike-causing flies. Hence, maintaining a healthy weight can help prevent flystrike in your rabbit.

Elderly Rabbits: As rabbits age, they might have more difficulty grooming themselves, which makes it more likely for damp fur and feces to accumulate. Elderly rabbits are at a higher risk of developing flystrike, so it’s essential to regularly check their fur and provide assistance with grooming when needed.

  • Existing Health Issues:
    1. Bladder Stones: If your rabbit has bladder stones, they might experience pain while urinating, leading to incontinence. This, in turn, can result in damp, soiled fur that attracts flies and makes them susceptible to flystrike.
    2. Arthritis: Arthritic rabbits might find it challenging to groom themselves and reach areas like their bottom, increasing the risk of flystrike. Providing your rabbit with proper medication and care for arthritis can help keep them clean and lower the risk of flies laying eggs on them.

Regularly monitoring your rabbit’s health and addressing the factors mentioned above will help you stay one step ahead in preventing flystrike.

Always keep your rabbit’s living environment clean and dry, ensuring they have access to a balanced diet and proper healthcare. By doing so, you can keep your furry friend safe and healthy.

Effect of Seasons on Flystrike

Flystrike is more common in certain times of the year, particularly during the summer months.

Warm weather creates the ideal breeding environment for the Lucilia sericata, or common green bottle fly, which plays a crucial role in the development of flystrike in rabbits.

During the warm weather, it’s essential to pay close attention to your rabbit’s hygiene and living environment.

The temperatures and humidity levels that accompany summer can increase the likelihood of your rabbit developing damp fur soiled with urine or soft faeces.

This attracts the flies, leading to a higher risk of flystrike.

Here are some preventive measures you can take:

  1. Regularly clean and dry your rabbit’s living area
  2. Keep your rabbit’s fur dry, particularly around their hindquarters
  3. Check for early signs of flystrike, such as eggs or maggots, at least twice a day
  4. Use appropriate fly repellents or preventive treatments recommended by your vet

Remember, prevention is better than treatment. Keep your rabbit’s living space hygienic and pay close attention to changes in your pet’s condition, especially during summer months.

This will significantly reduce the risk of flystrike and help ensure your pet stays healthy and happy throughout the year.

Flystrike Recovery

Recovering from flystrike is crucial for your pet rabbit. During the recovery process, you must pay close attention to various factors.

First of all, ensure the rabbit’s bedding is clean and dry. This reduces the risk of further infection and provides a comfortable space for your pet to heal.

Regularly change the bedding and inspect the area for any signs of maggots or fly eggs.

The recovery process might be painful for your rabbit. A visit to the veterinarian is essential to check for any wounds or burrowing maggots, as they require proper treatment.

Your vet may also prescribe medication to relieve your rabbit’s pain and control the potential shock due to the life-threatening situation.

Helpful measures during recovery include:

  1. Monitoring your rabbit’s appetite
  2. Keeping an eye on the tail area for cleanliness and trimming any excess fur
  3. Administering prescribed medication on time
  4. Ensuring proper hydration and a balanced diet

Maintaining your pet rabbit’s hygiene during recovery plays a vital role in the healing process. By ensuring a clean living environment, you prevent further complications and infections.

The use of a preventive product such as Rearguard can be beneficial in avoiding future flystrike incidents. Rearguard works by discouraging flies from laying eggs on your rabbit’s skin.

Lastly, keeping your rabbit’s digestive system in good shape is crucial for overall health and recovery.

Offering a diet rich in hay and fresh vegetables encourages healthy digestion and prevents issues that could attract flies in the first place.

Also, provide ample space for your rabbit to move around freely and exercise, as this promotes proper grooming and overall well-being.


In conclusion, flystrike is a severe and prevalent condition affecting rabbits, especially during warm weather.

It is caused by the Lucilia sericata, or common green bottle fly, which is attracted to damp fur soiled with urine or soft faeces.

As a rabbit owner, it is crucial to understand the risks, symptoms, and treatments associated with flystrike in order to protect your rabbit’s health and well-being.

There are preventative measures you can take to reduce the risk of flystrike.

Maintain proper hygiene for your rabbit, including cleaning their living environment regularly and trimming their fur when necessary.

Additionally, monitor your rabbit’s health by checking for any wounds or soiling of fur that may attract flies.

In the case of an infestation, seek prompt veterinary care for treatment and advice on preventing future occurrences.

By following these tips and staying vigilant about your rabbit’s health, you can minimize the risk of flystrike and ensure your furry friend remains happy and healthy.


What is flystrike in rabbits?

Flystrike is a life-threatening condition where maggots infest a rabbit’s skin, causing severe pain and illness. It occurs when flies lay their eggs on the rabbit, which then hatch into maggots that burrow into the skin and feed on the flesh.

What are the signs of flystrike in rabbits?

When suffering from flystrike, rabbits may:

  1. Appear lethargic or quiet
  2. Adopt a hunched posture
  3. Have visible maggots on their skin or in their fur
  4. Exhibit symptoms of pain, such as avoiding touch or shying away

How can I prevent flystrike in my rabbit?

Preventing flystrike involves:

  • Regularly checking and cleaning your rabbit’s bottom
  • Providing a clean living environment
  • Treating any open wounds promptly
  • Considering a preventative treatment during high-risk months

What should I do if I suspect my rabbit has flystrike?

If you suspect your rabbit has flystrike, take the following steps:

  1. Contact a vet immediately – Flystrike is a life-threatening condition, and prompt treatment is necessary.
  2. Carefully and gently clean the affected area with warm water – Avoid using any chemicals or products, which could worsen the condition.
  3. Keep your rabbit warm and comfortable while you wait for treatment.

Is there a treatment for flystrike?

Treatment for flystrike starts with the removal of maggots by the vet, which can include thorough cleaning and grooming. The rabbit may receive medications to manage pain and prevent infection. Depending on the extent of tissue damage, surgery might be necessary.

Maurice Alice

Dr. Maurice Alice is a veterinary expert with over 10 years of experience in exotic animal medicine, specializing in dental care for rabbits and rodents. He is dedicated to providing exceptional care for his patients and is passionate about promoting animal welfare.

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