Flystrike is deadly if not caught early enough. Certain species of flies (blowflies) become attracted to an area, usually the vent/rectum, which is soiled by urine & faeces. Maggots can hatch within 24 hours. These maggots eat under the skin and release poisons, which will be fatal to your rabbit.
Signs: quiet, depressed, no appetite, twitchy (grooming rear end), on closer examination the back end will be damp and odorous, and maggots will be seen around the vent, and under the skin, often extending part way up the back of the rabbit.
Treatment: If the maggots have not hatched or broken the skin the prognosis is good. Thoroughly clean the area being careful to remove all the maggots and eggs. Keep the area clean and dry. If the maggots have broken the skin the prognosis isn't so good, your rabbit must be taken to the vets immediately. Your vet will remove all maggots, clean and disinfect the area and apply creams to promote healing as well as antibiotics and pain relief. If in shock fluids will be administered. Sometimes with flystrike euthanasia may be the kindest option.
Causes/Prevention: obesity, Sticky Bottom Syndrome, old age, long furred rabbits require constant grooming to prevent faeces building up in the fur around the anus, clean your hutch regularly, poor inappropriate diet.
Rearguard is a product that can be sponged onto your rabbit's rear end and will stop the larvae hatching, this product can last 8 - 10 weeks. Can be purchased from any Veterinary practice (prescription only)
Check your rabbit regularly, ensure the hutch is always clean this will help to deter flies.
Rabbits are susceptible to heat stroke, hutches should have shelter from direct sunlight.
Signs: mouth breathing, weakness, depressed and sometimes will foam at the mouth, convulsions.
Treatment: Get him to a vet for urgent treatment. Before you transport your rabbit to the vet try to bring his body temperature down.
Wrap him/her in a wet towel
Wrap a wet towel around his ears.
If conscious, offer him water.
Prevention: Keep your rabbits hutch away from direct sunlight. provide plenty of water, provide shade.
Sticky Bottom Syndrome
This describe the very common condition where the rabbit has soft faeces that stick to the fur around the anus. In the summer these rabbits are at high risk to flystrike.
Signs: build up of soft & smelly faeces around the anus and tail, these cake onto the fur.
Treatment: Diet is often the biggest cause of this, a high-fibre diet should be fed, unlimited hay at all times, reduce dry mix or remove completely as long as the rabbit is eating hay.
Prevention: diet is the biggest issue here, obesity in pet rabbits is very common. Reduce treats, fruits, and bread. It may take several months for the changes to take affect and in this time the rabbit's bottom will need to be kept cleaned, check 2 or 3 times daily to avoid Flystrike.