When ants are found in the rabbit hutch or in large numbers in the run, it is often a startling moment for owners.
But do the insects really pose a danger to your rabbits or are they harmless and merely a nuisance?
Here you will not only get the answers, but also tips for prevention and removal of the ants.
Are ants dangerous for rabbits?
That depends entirely on which ant species it is.
In Germany and in Europe in general, there are only a few variants that pose a risk.
These are representatives of the fire ant, such as the yellow thief ant. They move out in swarms and do not shy away from larger prey. Therefore, they can not only injure but also kill dwarf rabbits.
This is especially true if they are young or even baby rabbits.
The ants secrete venom both when biting and when fighting with competitors. When bitten, the following symptoms can be expected:
- Intense pain
Allergic reactions are also possible.
Since fire ants appear in large numbers and want to kill their prey quickly, numerous bites occur. This can lead to the death of the victim.
If the ants fight with other insects, they smear them with a poison from a gland in their abdomen. This acts as an insecticide and kills the opponents.
As small as the ants are, they can be dangerous even to humans.
So in the event of an infestation, you need to act quickly and thoroughly. In addition, you must report the infestation. This is because the animals pose a considerable risk.
Individual and native species of ants, on the other hand, pose no risk. They may be found on the rabbits’ food, but do not target the animals themselves.
Why are newborn rabbits particularly at risk?
Newborn rabbits are born naked, with their eyes and ears closed and without fur.
The little ones cannot walk and are therefore at the mercy of the ants without protection.
In addition, the mother rabbits cannot carry away their offspring. This is due on the one hand to the limited dimensions of the cage and run and on the other hand to the still missing fur.
Helplessness and size therefore make them easy victims.
The ants can further weaken them by bites and the poison transmitted in the process, causing their death. Subsequently, the insects eat the rabbits.
If adult animals try to protect the offspring, they must also expect bites.
This is where quick action is required from you.
What do I have to do in case of an ant bite on rabbits?
Ants cannot easily penetrate the fur of adult rabbits.
They therefore choose parts of the body that are easier to reach. These include eyes, nose and the genital and anal areas and ears. So wherever the skin is not densely covered with fur, the insects can attack.
Especially in the case of bites on or in the eye, a veterinarian must be consulted immediately.
Even if the injuries do not lead directly to blindness or death, they can still cause serious infections.
In addition, they are extremely painful and tempt the rabbit, among other things, to rub or scratch itself, which in turn can carry increased germs into the wounds.
How can I prevent ants in the rabbit hutch?
Prevention is better than cure – this is also true when it comes to keeping ants out of the rabbit hutch.
The insects seek out the hutch because, on the one hand, they find food here and, on the other, warmth and a dry environment.
You cannot and should not change the warmth and dryness.
However, the availability of food can be limited: while hay, straw, twigs, branches, bark and dried herbs should be available at all times, as should water, fruit and vegetables should only be fed in small quantities.
If the rabbits leave any of this behind, the remains should be removed immediately. This is because the smell can attract ants and other insects.
Keep the hutch clean and change the bedding regularly. This is because the smell of feces and urine, as well as fermentation, can also be an attractant for insects. While this does not directly affect ants, they feed on the flies, grubs, beetles and their larvae, among other things, and thus find another potential food source in the rabbit hutch.
Cleanliness and thoughtful feeding can already eliminate some risk factors.
However, this is not a guarantee for an ant-free hutch.
Are ant traps rabbit-safe?
Ant traps are an additional safeguard.
But are they safe for the rabbits?
The clear answer is: No. Since rabbits are curious by nature and gnaw on everything, they could ingest the poison they contain.
So position ant traps outside the run and hutch, if at all, and thus out of reach of your rabbits.
If you have already spotted ants in the area of your animals, however, traps are not the only thing advised.
Quick removal is then crucial.
How to get rid of ants in the rabbit hutch?
Spraying insecticides wildly is not advisable in the rabbit hutch. Even after a thorough airing, there will be residues that can be dangerous for your animals.
To be able to remove the ants thoroughly but still gently for your rabbits, other means are therefore recommended.
Suitable are for example
diluted vinegar essence
natural insecticides, with mint or geraniol
Pay close attention that sprays and co. do not pose a danger to mammals. These are available, though harder to find and a bit more expensive.
When you have the remedy of choice ready, proceed as follows:
Protect yourself: If they are dangerous ants, they can attack and bite you if threatened. Therefore, wear long and light-colored clothes, tuck your pants into your socks and use gloves.
Remove everything: To get rid of even the last ant, you must first remove everything from the hutch and run. Litter and food should be destroyed directly. Sleep houses and toys as well as climbing furniture should first be placed in the run.
Apply insecticide: You can now spray the hutch and rabbit furniture with insecticide, powder it with diatomaceous earth, or mist it with a mixture of one part vinegar essence and two parts water. Let it soak in for at least a day.
Clean everything: You can steam clean the hutch and furnishings and then let them dry thoroughly. This will remove dead ants, dirt and debris. It will also reduce odors, which in turn will be less enticing to the ants.
Of course, it goes without saying that the rabbits should not be in the run or hutch during this basic cleaning.
How do I recognize dangerous ants?
This is not so easy. Because of the variety of different ant species and their small size, they can be recognized and distinguished only with proper knowledge and hardly without magnification.
However, there are clues that can help you.
For example, harmless ants appear singly or in small groups.
They look for food sources, but do not find themselves on rabbits and take flight at signs of threat.
Dangerous specimens show themselves much more aggressive. They feel protected in large numbers and are not afraid to repeatedly attack and bite people.
Ants in the rabbit cage – what to do?
Just as insects can feast in the rabbit hutch, they can occasionally be found in the apartment or house, forming roads up to the rabbit cage.
The ants, in turn, are just looking for food.
Other advantages are, of course, a dry and warm environment.
As a rule, the insects are not representatives of dangerous variants. However, you can be sure that the next port of call will be your kitchen. Therefore, the following measures are again sensible:
Store food properly
Do not leave fresh food lying around
Keep cage clean
Set up traps
It is also recommended to look for the ants’ point of entry. If necessary, a crack in the masonry is the inlet or a window that is often open.
My name is Mark and the senior editor
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