When it comes to things you can find on your rabbit, maggots are just about the worst. Not only are the gross to look at, but the presence of maggots actually indicates that your rabbit has a condition called fly strike. This is a very serious, painful condition that can quickly lead to your rabbit's death if you don't act quickly. Here's what you need to know.
What is fly strike?
Fly strike occurs when flies start laying their eggs on your rabbit, and the eggs hatch into larvae (maggots). The maggots then start feeding on your rabbit's flesh. As you can imagine, this is painful for your rabbit, so it causes a wide array of pain-related symptoms such as a lack of appetite, lethargy, moaning, and skittishness.
Why does fly strike happen?
Fly strike can occur any time your rabbit's coat becomes an appealing nesting grounds for flies. If your rabbit becomes wet from sitting under his water bottle or sitting in a wet cage, fly strike can happen. It's more likely in warm weather, simply because flies are more active at this time.
What should you do about fly strike?
Fly strike is considered a medical emergency in rabbits. Take your rabbit directly to the vet's office. If it is after hours and your vet is not open, head to the emergency animal hospital in your area. Your vet will need to remove the maggots and then clean out your rabbit's wounds to prevent bacterial infection from setting in. Your rabbit may need additional treatments like IV antibiotics, fluids, and pain relievers in the days and weeks that follow.
How can you protect against fly strike in the future?
Once your rabbit has recovered enough to go home, it's important that you take some measures to ensure fly strike does not happen again. Keep your rabbit inside where there are fewer flies. Make sure you change his or her cage every other day to keep it dry. Offer your rabbit water in a bottle rather than a dish since this is likely to spill; check to ensure the bottle does not leak into the cage.
You should also bathe your rabbit every couple of weeks. This will keep his or her coat clean, making flies less likely to attack.
Finding maggots on your rabbit can be traumatizing, but as long as you seek prompt vet care, everything should turn out okay.