Fur Mites in Rabbits: Learn how to identify and eradicate
this non-burrowing parasite in your rabbit. Plus, treating your rabbit's
environment to prevent re-infestation.
The other day I picked up one of our rabbits. I held her
close and petted her, rubbing her head and ears, and stroking her over her
back. (Rex rabbits are like that...difficult to stop holding and petting
because they're so......plush.) As I did so, I felt something like scabby
lumps in the triangle just behind her ears. Further investigation revealed fur
Fur mites (Cheyletiella
parasitovorax) are non-burrowing little arachnid parasites
that like to chew on your rabbit's fur and skin. Feeling those little scabby
lumps where you should be feeling smooth fur is sometimes the first clue to
The incidence of fur mites in rabbits rises in the spring as
the weather begins to warm up. Rabbits with weaker immune systems are more
likely to suffer an infestation (that's definitely a clue to generally keep a close eye on my
doe), while some very healthy rabbits play host to fur mites yet show no symptoms
Mites are itchy to the rabbit, apparently. As the rabbit
scratches the infested area, often the neck at the base of the ears, she might nick her skin and draw a little blood. Plus, the
tiny skin bites release bits of serum. I was feeling all of that.
Severe infestations cause dandruff, seborrheic (waxy)
lesions, and fur loss. You'll typically see bare spots, or a triangle of short
new fur behind the ears continually trying to grow in.
Just so you know, it is possible for fur mites to give
people a temporary rash, though since we are not 'furry,' the problem is
Where did fur mites come from?
We keep our rabbits in all-wire cages, which means they are
not normally exposed to fur mites. But we do attend rabbit shows now and again,
so our doe may have picked them up from other rabbits or from the new
Rabbits can also pick up fur mites from the family dog or
cat, and from its own environment, including inside the home and in the yard if
given access to these areas.
to eradicate fur mites in rabbits
Cat or kitten flea powder
should obliterate the adult fur mites in rabbits. A second dusting 10 days later is very
important in order to kill newly hatched mites. The two treatments should solve
the infestation, but if necessary, a third application 10-14 days after the
second dusting is acceptable.
Ivermectin, topical, oral or
subcutaneous is also effective. If injecting, use 1% Cattle Injectable
Ivermectin, 0.018cc per pound. (That's a teensy amount.) Administer upon
discovery, and then again 10-14 days later. A third dose is acceptable, given
10-14 days after the second dose.
Revolution® (Selamectin) is related to Ivermectin and can also be used. (Use Revolution on rabbits 11 pounds (5 kg) or more, and at your own risk.)
Do NOT use Frontline® or
Advantage® on rabbits. The manufacturer of Frontline
products strongly recommends against using it on rabbits as the side effects
can be severe, including death, and Advantage is not effective against fur
Please consult your rabbit-savvy
veterinarian as needed.
To avoid a re-infestation,
you’ll need to thoroughly clean, and then treat the rabbit’s environment. Borax
and diatomaceous earth are effective natural choices.
The healthier your rabbit is, the better it can
Be sure to recheck your animal after a full course of treatment,
to ensure the mites are gone.
Also check the family pets, and any other rabbits
that live with or near an infested rabbit, and treat as necessary.
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