Rabbits are like cats. They love to clean themselves now and then. So, if you see them acting weird and constantly scratching, itching, and biting themselves, they might need to have a vet visit since those are symptoms of fur mites in rabbits.
What are Fur Mites in Rabbits?
Cheyletiella parasitivorax, commonly known as fur mites, can cause highly infectious diseases, especially in cats, dogs, rats, rabbits, and even humans. Fur mites are ectoparasites.
They are non-burrowing mites that live outside their host’s body, particularly on their skin, which serves their main food and nutrition. When left untreated, the fur mites in rabbits may cause a ‘walking dandruff.’
The word ‘walking dandruff’ is derived from the mite’s movement in the rabbit’s skin. As the fur mites grow their numbers, they stay close and form like a big patch of dandruff in the rabbit’s skin.
Fur Mites Life Cycle
The fur mites’ life cycle is just around 36 days, and they grow on the rabbit’s skin swiftly.
Once a healthy rabbit contacts the infected animal, the adult mites are transmitted into the new healthy host. If left untreated, the fur mites will live for a couple of days into the healthy rabbit’s skin until they can lay eggs.
Unfortunately, it will only take roughly three weeks for the eggs to develop into adults and then reproduce again.
Watch this video to see if the mites in your rabbits are deadly.
7 Common Symptoms of Fur Mites
Rabbits can be infected with fur mites anytime. However, these parasites might have a specific season as it is more common during milder weather.
Fur mites in rabbits have several symptoms. Once they stick into the shaft of a healthy rabbit’s hair, it can go down into their skin, creating skin patches and flakes.
Our naked eyes can barely see these mites during the early days of infestation. Until then, the fur mites in rabbits will not be visible into their neck and back. These parts of the rabbits are the most common areas where you will see the fur mites.
So, when you see your rabbits constantly scratching these parts, check it immediately and see if there is several fur mites information.
Listed below are the other symptoms of fur mites in rabbits.
Thick and flaky skin
One indicator of healthy rabbit skin is it must be smooth and stretchy. If a rabbit is infected with fur mites, its skin may become thick and flaky or scaly due to the fur mites’ presence on their skin.
Once the fur mites grow their army, they slowly create patches in the rabbits’ skin. These patches are similar to dandruff formation, and their size constantly grows. Thus, earning the nickname walking-dandruff.
Constant head shaking and scratching.
Since fur mites in rabbits get their nutrients from the rabbit’s skin, you might see them constantly shake their head or scratch any part of their body. The number of mites in the rabbits’ skin may cause uncomfortable pain to them.
Fur loss can result from the rabbit’s severe scratching and biting from the parasite infestations and allergies. If you notice that a rabbit is losing fur, you must apply first aid immediately since it may also cause severe skin infections.
Another indication that your rabbit might have fur mites infection is if there is apparent scalding. These wounds are the results of the mites biting the rabbit’s skin. It could also result from the rabbit scratching the part infected with fur mites to ease the pain.
Once the rabbits show signs and symptoms of fur mites, treat them immediately. Take them out from their cage or pen immediately. Isolate them or put them in a new place that is not infected by mites.
Then, check for medicines. Different medicines can address the rabbit’s skin issues caused by fur mites. These medicines include rabbit-friendly insecticides and ivermectin, which can be injected, applied, or given orally.
Most veterinarians use ivermectin, an anti-parasitic drug, to treat the fur mites in rabbits. To treat the fur mites, the rabbits must be medicated with once (1) cc ivermectin for every 10lbs weight.
This should be given three times a day within 14-21 days or until the fur mites are entirely wiped out.
Though other medicines are said to cure the fur mites in rabbits, we highly suggest that the pet owner bring the rabbits to the vet to check further if the fur mites have caused other diseases.
Apart from visiting the vet and nursing the rabbits, you also need to clean the rabbit’s cage or environment to clear it from fur mites. This is a non-negotiable task since the parasites can still survive for several days without their host.
You can use any products to clean the rabbit’s place. Also, make sure to keep the place dry to prevent infestations.
You may also check this video for additional information on how to treat fur mites.
For the rabbits to fully recover from fur mites, you must have them quarantined and monitored every day.
If you follow the vet prescriptions for the fur mites in rabbits, you will see progress in three days. Your rabbit will have its appetite back. It will slowly stop scratching itself, and most importantly, the ‘walking dandruff’ will stop expanding its size as the parasites slowly die.
During this time, the rabbit might feel a little bit lonely, which means that you need to do something to keep the rabbit busy. Toys and food will surely help them feel accompanied.
However, you need to give them new toys as their previous one might have been infected with fur mites as well as the toys can become a carrier of fur mites. It is better safe than sorry.
On the other hand, food is a great way to keep the rabbits busy. Rabbits do love food. They love snacking. So, have a good amount of hay and treats ready!
You also need to check them every now and then. Depending on the gravity of the infection from fur mites, you may need to monitor the rabbits every 4 hours.
It may sound absurd, but rabbits have low infections and diseases tolerance. Checking them every 4 hours will ensure that they will live in the next 24 hours.
Another thing that you should consider when the rabbits are on their recovery period from fur mites because you need to comb them constantly. Combing their fur prevents and slows down the number of fur mites growing.
Vet visit nowadays is pretty costly. If your pet gets sick or is infected with fur mites, you may need to prepare a stash of cash. Depending on the vet clinic you go to, vet visits may cost at least $500.
It can go more than $500 and much more if your rabbit is confined into the vet clinic.
To lessen this cost, you can treat the rabbits at home. Just be cautious not to drug-overdose them and follow all the necessary steps to keep them and their place clean throughout. Medicines and hygiene should go hand in hand for their fast recoveries.
Fur mite infestation is typical to animals, especially in rabbits. Preventing them may be challenging, but you can keep your rabbits’ healthy skin if you start right. Here are the things you need to consider to keep the fur mites away.
Make sure that the place where your pet stays is clean. A well-maintained and regularly cleaned cage, hutch, or pen minimizes the possibility of your rabbits getting fur mites.
Grooming is also important to rabbits. If you regularly groom your rabbits, you will quickly notice any mites or wounds caused by fur mites.
Also, check if your rabbits are overly grooming themselves. Grooming is natural to them, but there are instances that they overly groom themselves to the extent that they want to clean their body parts that they can barely reach.
This abnormal behavior may be a symptom of fur mites in rabbits.
Another important factor preventing fur mites in rabbits is a regular vet visit. Your rabbits should have monthly, quarterly, semi-annually, or yearly check-ups. A regular visit to the vet helps you detect and prevent any health problems.
Isolate Your Other Pets
If your other pet rabbit, dog, or cat, is sick or is infected with mites, immediately isolate them from the rest who are healthy, including your rabbits. This is one of the ways to prevent the spread of fur mites in rabbits efficiently.
Can You Get Infected with Fur Mites?
Though humans have hair instead of fur, a human can still get infected with fur mites. These fur mites may cause skin irritations or wounds.
However, unlike our furry animals, these fur mites cannot grow and spread further since we will notice them immediately. Also, most of us will go directly to a clinic or hospital to check if those fur mites’ infections can cause severe diseases or allergies.
Fur mites in rabbits are preventable. You need to be fully dedicated to raising your rabbits and giving them the care they need. Follow the tips above on how to prevent fur mites in rabbits, and your rabbits will live happily healthy.