Last Updated on May 21, 2023 by keno
Ear mites or Psoroptes cuniculi are a common health issue that affects most rabbits as a result causing discomfort and irritation. The infection mainly affects a rabbit’s ear and may also spread to other parts of a bunny’s body if left untreated. Rabbits may pick up the infection through contact with contaminated hay or straw bedding that contains the mite eggs. So how do you treat ear mites in rabbits? In this article, we talk about ear mites signs and symptoms, treatment as well as preventative measures to take.
Rabbit ear mite symptoms
An ear mite infestation is usually characterized by irritation in your rabbit’s ear canal. This, as a result, leads to the formation of brown crusts which leads to infections that may be severe if left untreated. Some of the common symptoms that your rabbit has an ear mite infection include:
- Excessive ear scratching
- Head or Ear shaking
- Red and inflamed ears
- Hair thinning around rabbit ears
- Flinching away when your bunny’s ears are touched
- Ear canal ear wax-like substance build-up
- Crusting on the ears
- Scales developing in the inner ear
- Sudden weight loss
Treating Ear Mites in Rabbits
Treatment options for ear mites include systemic and tropical. The former includes using injectable or oral anti-parasitic drugs. Tropical treatment on the other hand involves the direct application of anti-parasitic medications on the infected areas. This can be through the use of powder or liquid medication.
The most preferred treatment is systemic since it is easier to administer and needs only a few dosages to be effective. Ear mites can be treated with ivermectin and selamectin drugs. Alternatively, you can also clean your bunny’s ears using a topical treatment. This involves gently applying a few drops of the anti-parasitic medication into the ear canal, then massaging the ear base to loosen the debris. The next step is to use a soft cloth or cotton ball to wipe away the dislodged dirt. Avoid inserting any object into your bunny’s ear canal when cleaning as it may cause injury.
Normally treatment takes 14 days either through oral dose or injection. In severe cases, you’ll notice substantial scaling which causes discharge on your rabbit’s ears. Avoid removing the crusting as it may cause pain which may result in bleeding. In other words, the crust will start to fall off on its own toward the end of the treatment.
Cleaning and disinfecting a rabbit’s environment
Since ear mites can for 21 days hosting on a rabbit and they’re highly contagious, cleaning and disinfecting your rabbit’s living area is usually recommended. This is mainly because anything your infected bunny comes into contact with may harbor the mites and their eggs.
To prevent re-infestation after medication you’ll first need to temporarily relocate your bunny to a new enclosure or living space. This should be around 4 to 6 weeks, enough time for the mites and their eggs to die off. Place them in a playpen or seclude a comfortable area before you start to clean their main living area.
When it comes to cleaning your rabbit’s environment, dispose of all their bedding and disinfect their housing and toys, using organic or chemical-free insecticide. If your bunny’s hutch is made of porous wood that’s difficult to clean thoroughly, introduce your rabbit back to its housing after a couple of months. Alternatively, you might also replace their housing to avoid re-infestation from the mite’s hatched eggs that were not disinfected when reintroducing your rabbit. Additionally, regularly clean and vacuum your rabbit’s play area to remove any mites or eggs that may have found their way there. Finally, if you’re keeping more than one rabbit, as a precaution, treat all of them and thoroughly clean their living space as well.
Preventative measures against ear mites in rabbits
Maintaining proper hygiene and preventive care for your rabbit is something worth considering if you want to reduce the probability of an ear mite infestation. As such ensure that your bunny living environment is clean, dry, and properly ventilated. On top of that, clean your bunny’s ears regularly by applying a few drops of olive oil on a clean soft cloth.
Finally, avoid exposing your rabbits to other new rabbits as they likely carry the ear mites, and closely monitor your bunny for any signs of re-infestation. If the symptoms persist consult your veterinarian for guidance, evaluation, and treatment.
Although ear mites are a distress for rabbits, with timely treatment, proper rabbit care, and maintaining a clean environment, they can be effectively managed. Nonetheless, the best solution is to seek veterinarian assistance, whenever there are any ear mite signs or symptoms.