If you are going to keep a rabbit(s), then it is time you had some tips on pet rabbit care, like any other pets are prone to many health and skin conditions. The most common problem you will have to deal with is rabbit ear mites.
On the specific type, rabbits are prone to infection by a mite called Psoroptes cuniculi. This is a parasite that lives its entire life cycle in your pet’s ears. Even though it does not pose a serious health risk, it can spread quickly to other parts of the body if left untreated and cause fatal problems like meningitis. It can also cause secondary conditions like a skin infection. The infected one can also spread these parasites to others. These are some of the reasons why treating the mites in their early stage should be your top priority.
Signs and symptoms of a rabbit ear mite infestation
A vet can easily identify the mites if he observes your pet’s ears but so can you. The following are some of the signs and symptoms you should expect in case of an infestation.
- You should observe your rabbit’s ears and if you see anything that is not pink skin or fur that reflects its color, then that’s a sign of a mite infestation.
- It will be shaking its head.
- Brown flaky skin inside the ears (These are mite droppings)
- The rabbit scratching its ears with its hindlimbs because of the itching.
- Hair loss at the back of the ears due to scratching.
- Sometimes you may see black debris.
- Widespread redness around the affected area
- Sores around the affected area induced by the scratching
- A brown waxy build up in the affected area.
- Crusting around one or both ear flaps (severe case)
- You may also notice a smelly odor emanating from the rabbit’s ears. This is mostly due to the buildup of gunk.
Home remedies and treatment options
Ear mites are highly contagious and therefore should be treated early to avoid infecting others if you have more than one. Here are some of the best ways to deal with the infestation.
Mineral oil like Swan Mineral Oil has proved to be one of the most effective home remedies for rabbit mites. The oil kills the mites by suffocating them. You need to apply a few drops of the oil in the ear, then massage gently to spread the oil on the whole ear. Do this once every day until you kill all the parasites.
A mixture of extra virgin olive oil, Apple cider Vinegar, and campho-phenique
- Mix 3 spoons of Olive oil with half a spoonful of apple cider vinegar and then add 3 drops of campho-phenique.
- Put three drops of the mixture in the rabbit’s ear and massage gently using your hands.
- Apple cider vinegar will dissolve the dead skin that has formed due to crusting.
- Olive oil will kill the parasites by suffocating them. It also has elements that will heal the damaged skin.
- Campho-phenique cream will soothe the affected area by relieving the itching and irritation.
- Apply this mixture at least once every day for a period of 21 days until all the mites are dead.
I understand there are people who prefer to use proven drugs to fight any kind of problem. There are specific antiparasitic drugs called ivermectin which can be used to get rid of ear mites from your rabbit.
Ivermectin can be administered orally, where you squirt a few drops of the solution into the mouth by syringe. The solution is absorbed into the bloodstream and help get rid of these parasites. Or another option is through an injection between the shoulder blades. Some people claim that squirting the solution into the affected ear is also efficient.
To avoid re-infection, you should repeat the medication after two weeks to get the mites that hatch since this medication does not get rid of the mite’s eggs. It is also a good idea to treat all the other rabbits at the same time because the mites might have already spread even if they are not visible.
How to prevent re-infection of ear mites in rabbits
- These mites are highly contagious and therefore all the rabbits should be treated at the same time to avoid re-infection.
- Apply any kind of topical medication to both ears even if only one is affected.
- When treating it, do not remove the crust that has formed. This will leave the skin open and susceptible to other secondary infections. The crust will fall off when the rabbit shakes its head after you begin medication.
- You should trim the rabbit’s claws to prevent injuries inflicted through scratching.
- You should also clean the rabbit’s hutch by getting rid of all its bedding and dirt. This will also get rid of the unhatched eggs.