“Fly strike” can be a fatal disease as it develops very rapidly.  It is primarily seen in domestic rabbits during the warmer months.  Flies are attracted to the smell of urine and faeces around a rabbit’s bottom.  They lay eggs here which hatch out into maggots within a matter of hours.  The maggots feed on the rabbit’s tissue and burrow into the skin.

If you are concerned that your rabbit is showing signs of fly strike, you need to take immediate action.

To help avoid your rabbit being affected by fly strike:

Throughout the summer, check your rabbit’s bottom twice a day to ensure it is clean; any excess faeces should be cleaned off

Clean your rabbit’s hutch daily to help reduce the smell of urine and faeces which attracts flies

Ask for your vet’s advice on a suitable diet for your rabbit to help prevent diarrhoea, which attracts flies.  Cutting back on carbohydrate-rich grains and changing to pellets which contain more roughage can help.  Rabbits should also be given plenty of fresh hay daily and have access to a grazing area.

Ask your vet about Rearguard, a preventative product that can help keep flies away for up to 10 weeks

If you do find maggots on your rabbit, you need to make an emergency appointment at the practice.  Many rabbits can be saved but if the maggots have eaten their way through the skin layer and into the flesh it is usually kinder to put the rabbit to sleep.

If the maggots are successfully removed, your vet will treat your rabbit with antibiotics and painkillers.  It should then be housed indoors and any wounds bathed until healed to prevent the possibility of the flies attacking again.