Not only insects like bees and wasps are dangerous for rabbits, but also mosquitoes and flies pose a high risk.
In addition, there are other parasites, such as fleas, ticks and mites.
In this post, we’ll tell you which 8 insects pose a great danger to your rabbits and also show you what to do in case of contact between your pet and the insects.
These beneficial insects are crucial to the pollination of many flowers and should be protected at all costs. However, they may also sting when danger threatens to protect their colony.
Since rabbits do not eat insects, this is usually a coincidence. This can occur, for example, if your pet is eating fruit or vegetables and there is a bee on them.
Due to the dense fur rabbits are comparatively well protected, but nevertheless it can come to a sting on the paws, the nose or in the area of the mouth. It is characteristic that bees lose their sting during the sting, which can then still be stuck in the wound.
Dangers of a bee sting
The main danger with a bee sting is that severe swelling can occur.
In very sensitive animals, even anaphylactic shock is possible. This is a life-threatening situation because, among other things, the circulation fails.
In these cases, take your animal immediately to the veterinarian or to a veterinary clinic.
In the case of severe swelling on the nose or in the mouth area, this is also necessary, as breathing may be restricted.
Also, make sure to remove the stinger if it is still present. It is best to use tweezers for this. Disinfect the wound afterwards and check it several times a day.
If the bee sting causes an infection, it may be necessary to use an antibiotic.
Wasps can be much more aggressive than bees, but usually only sting when they see themselves or their nest threatened. They are also strongly attracted to sweet-smelling foods, such as fruit.
Unlike bees, wasps do not have a stinger in the wound.
However, the effects also consist of swelling and redness. The dangers are also the same.
Although hornets are very large and therefore more people are afraid of them, these insects are rarely a danger.
They are peaceful and often do not stay in close proximity to other living creatures.
If a sting nevertheless occurs, for example because your rabbit accidentally steps on a hornet in the garden, swelling, redness and pain are possible.
Inflammation can also occur.
Therefore, keep the wound clean and cool it to relieve discomfort.
To prevent stings from these insects, you should first check the enclosure when letting them run free in the garden.
Also note that wasps and hornets can build their nests directly on or in the rabbit’s hutch. This poses a significant risk.
In this case, you should have the nest removed.
For individual animals, however, it helps not to feed fruit or to give it only under supervision. Remove all leftovers directly afterwards, so that neither wasps nor bees are attracted.
Fallen fruit or spoiled food remains as well as numerous flowering plants can additionally attract the insects.
You should urgently consider this when choosing the location of the hutch and enclosure.
In the apartment, you can easily achieve protection by installing fly screens. Store fruit in the refrigerator or in airtight packaging and do not leave any leftovers in the cage.
This will not only prevent you from attracting wasps and bees.
Mosquitoes are a nuisance to humans. However, the bites of these small insects can be dangerous for three reasons and create more than unpleasant itching (more on that in a moment).
Since mosquitoes feed on blood, they are not picky about their food source.
Again, your rabbit is relatively well protected by the dense fur. Nevertheless, bites are possible, especially in areas with thinner hair.
Dangers from mosquito bites
The biggest risk is due to the itching: Your rabbit will scratch itself.
If the skin is injured, germs can penetrate and inflammations can occur. If necessary, treatment by a veterinarian may be necessary.
If there is severe redness or even pus is formed, simply disinfecting the wound is no longer sufficient.
Another danger is that the swelling may become very severe and thus restrict breathing, for example. If decongestant measures such as cooling are no longer sufficient, a visit to the vet is also necessary.
However, such cases rarely occur with a mosquito bite.
By far the greatest danger, however, is that mosquitoes can transmit diseases.
Among them is myxomatosis.
This infection, caused by viruses, is known as rabbit disease and is often fatal. Since you can never completely exclude mosquito bites mainly outdoors, you should have your pet vaccinated in any case.
In the apartment you can achieve a certain protection by fly screens on the windows. However, even small holes are enough for mosquitoes to get in.
Outdoors, however, prevention is hardly possible.
In enclosures, however, you can install a mosquito net so that the run is protected. This will not only keep mosquitoes out.
Ticks can carry disease and feed on the blood of their hosts by attaching themselves to the skin.
Once they have sucked their fill, they fall off on their own.
However, since they can drink immense amounts, they linger for several hours to several days. In the process, more and more saliva gets into the wound.
Rapid removal is therefore crucial!
The brown, gray to black ticks are often hardly noticeable because they are initially flat and only a few millimeters long. In addition, they only become noticeable as a “foreign body” when they suck on your rabbit’s dense fur for a longer period of time.
Dangers from ticks
One danger is that an inflammation can form which initially remains undetected. Purulent discharge, severe redness and swelling are typical.
In addition to external disinfection, the administration of antibiotics may therefore be necessary.
The greatest risk, however, is that ticks, like mosquitoes or fleas, can transmit diseases. The longer the tick has been able to suck, the greater the risk of infection.
Therefore, check your rabbit daily and thoroughly, as the parasites are difficult to notice in the thick fur.
Remove the tick as soon as possible!
For this purpose, a tick card or tick forceps are suitable.
If you do not have the confidence to remove the tick yourself, consult a veterinarian. This is also necessary if parts of the tick remain in the skin during removal or if the tick has already sucked itself full.
In case you want to enable an early treatment against possible diseases, have the tick examined by the veterinarian. This will make it clear whether pathogens have been transmitted and the therapy for your rabbit can begin directly.
For a long time, ticks were “smothered” by applying grease cream or other ointments to make the parasites detach and fall off faster.
Caution: The problem with this, however, is that the affected tick experiences stress and releases more secretions. The risk of disease transmission is therefore increased.
You should also not twist or pull the parasite out of the skin with your fingers. There is a risk that you will tear off the body, but the head will remain in the rabbit’s skin.
Prevention against ticks
The danger for tick bites is always given in the free run. In addition, even if your rabbit is kept indoors only, you can carry ticks inside unnoticed.
So-called spot-on preparations can therefore be useful.
They are applied to the back of the neck and are supposed to deter the parasites.
The bad news: they do not always work completely.
Therefore, you should not do without controls under any circumstances.
It is best to have the tick examined by a veterinarian. This will help determine if your rabbit needs medical treatment after the bite.
In case of inflammation, you should also consult a veterinarian to prevent a more severe outcome.
Fleas are small, dark brown to black parasites. They feed on blood and can multiply very quickly.
Female fleas lay up to 40 eggs per day. In addition, the parasites are very active and can therefore spread not only on your rabbit, but in the entire environment.
This makes control difficult and costly.
Attention: Already a few specimens are enough to create a large population.
In addition, the eggs can remain for up to three months, for example, in carpets, grooves in the floor or under baseboards.
Typical signs of a flea infestation are severe itching. Your rabbit may even scratch areas bare, damaging the skin.
Besides these symptoms, it is mainly the flea droppings that are an important clue.
If you brush your rabbit or stroke it, you will notice the flea droppings in the form of black, dry crumbs. If you then place these on a damp piece of cellulose or rub them on a piece of white paper, red spots or welts will form.
Dangers due to fleas
Fleas can severely irritate the skin and cause injuries from scratching.
These in turn make inflammation more likely. In addition, the parasites can transmit diseases.
These include myxomatosis (see mosquitoes).
Vaccination is therefore recommended in any case.
In addition, the rabbit fleas can pass on to you. An early control is therefore useful for several reasons.
Prevention and treatment
Fleas can be transmitted by other animals but also by hay.
A prevention is therefore hardly possible.
Appropriate spot-on preparations are available, however, and are advisable especially if the animals are kept in the garden.
However, if an infestation occurs, you must act quickly. Visit a veterinarian to get an appropriate remedy for your rabbit.
“Treat” in addition also the environment with. This includes the following points:
Change: promptly replace all bedding and remove all furnishings from the cage or hutch.
Cleaning: Clean everything thoroughly. The use of a steam cleaner is ideal.
Consider surroundings: Cleaning should not be limited to the cage. The free-range area must also be included.
Treat contact animals: If your rabbit had contact with other pets, you should treat them in any case. Otherwise, the parasites could spread again.
Mites are not visible to the naked eye. However, just like fleas, they can cause severe itching and lead to scratching.
In addition to this, hair loss and a change in the skin is possible.
Dandruff and sticky fur are other potential signs. Transmission occurs through hay and other animals.
For diagnosis, it may be necessary to perform a scraping. This involves the veterinarian scraping over the skin and examining the results.
Dangers due to mites
Above all, severe skin irritations are possible.
In addition, there is the loss of fur, which can lead to bald patches. This in turn causes faster hypothermia and makes your rabbit more susceptible to injury and disease.
Treatment and prevention
Mites are the most common parasites in rabbits. They are introduced through hay, for example, and are persistent.
A spot-on preparation can be used for both prevention and control or treatment.
Just as with fleas, it is critical to thoroughly clean the environment and cage, replace litter and use appropriate products for this purpose.
Flies can neither bite nor sting, but they do pose a potential danger. This is because if they lay eggs in your rabbit’s fur, the resulting maggots can damage the skin and feed on tissue.
This poses a danger if wounds are already present, as well as if the fur is heavily soiled.
Prevention and treatment
The best prevention is cleanliness and protection against flies.
- Do not leave food remains lying around
- Provide fresh food only for a short time
- Cleaning cage, hutch or run frequently
- Install fly screens or use a mosquito net
Also, practice coat grooming and prevent soiling of hair. In this way, flies will not be attracted.
If a fly or maggot infestation has occurred, you should immediately clean the affected area thoroughly.
Check your rabbit for sores and disinfect them if necessary.
Treatment by a veterinarian may also be necessary to prevent infection or to prevent a worse course.
As a preventative measure, you can put fly screens on the windows.
However, fly eggs are also carried into the home with fruit and vegetables. Complete protection can therefore only be achieved by regular cleaning.
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