Rabbits are known to be very healthy animals. They also have very long life spans that’s why they make for perfect animal companions. Rabbits however need proper nutrition, the right amount of exercise, and regular grooming.
Some owners hyper-focus on only keeping their rabbit’s fur well-groomed that they forget that other parts of the rabbit’s body are important to pay attention to as well.
For example, if owners do not clean their rabbit ears or if they do not check them ofter rabbits can suffer from ear mites.
In this article, I will be discussing all you need to know about treating ear mites in rabbits. However, remember that prevention is better than cure. Thus, always keep your rabbit’s ears clean. You can also have them checked during vet visits.
- 1 What are Ear Mites in Rabbit?
- 2 How Do Rabbits Get Ear Mites?
- 3 What are the Symptoms of Ear Mites in Rabbits?
- 4 5 Tips to Treat Ear Mites in Rabbits
- 5 What if Ear Mites are Not Treated in Rabbits?
- 6 Conclusion
What are Ear Mites in Rabbit?
Ear mites in rabbits are caused by a certain parasite called Psoroptes Cuniculi. These parasites are the main reason for ear cankers or what is called Otitis Externa in rabbits. They tend to burrow in the hair follicles of rabbits and feed on lymphatic fluids.
They are also visible to the human eye when they are in the outer flaps of the rabbit’s ears. Although these parasites do not burrow they can still go deeper into your rabbit’s ears.
This could be dangerous because not only do they cause severe itchiness that in turn causes infection, but these parasites can also cause meningitis which is extremely fatal to rabbits.
The lifecycle of this parasite is usually 21 days. They start off as larvae and hatch after four days. At 10 days old these parasites are already sexually mature and thus can lay more eggs. They also live and thrive in humid temperatures.
How Do Rabbits Get Ear Mites?
Rabbits get ear mites from other infected rabbits. Mites can travel fast from one host or another. Therefore, if you have multiple rabbits sharing cages then you could expect that if one of them gets infected the others would too. Hence, it is better to isolate one bunny when they are showing symptoms.
Outdoor bunnies are also more susceptible to getting ear mites than indoor rabbits. This is because outdoor rabbits will tend to have more contact with other animals that might be carrying the parasite. Know that this kind of parasite can also affect other farm animals such as horses, sheep, etc.
Also one must be extra vigilant during humid days as these bacteria love humid temperatures.
What are the Symptoms of Ear Mites in Rabbits?
It is important to take action immediately if your rabbit is infected with ear mites. Knowing the symptoms are one step to addressing the problem.
The following are the symptoms of ear mites in rabbits:
Ear mites feed on a rabbit’s lymphatic fluids. They are also like any other parasite that has to excrete as part of their biology. Ear mites have mucus and excretions and these are all irritants that can cause extreme and annoying itchiness to your rabbits.
The itchiness that results from ear mite bites can also cause scabbing. Rabbits will always scratch their ears when it feels itchy, and you can’t stop them. Sometimes this incessant scratching, especially if your rabbit’s nails are long will also pierce their skin and will scab over when it’s healing.
Swelling of ears
Ear mite bites can also cause swelling on the outside of the ears. This is another result of irritation. Swelling ears will appear reddish and bigger than the other ear. It would also mean that your rabbit might be averse to letting you touch their head or their ears.
Foul smell to the ears
Because of the scabbing, itchiness, and swelling of the ears, bacteria can also grow and cause infections in your rabbit’s wounds. These bacteria would cause your rabbit’s ears to smell foul.
Rabbits do not have a body odor so there should not be any foul smell coming out of their ears. If any foul smell is coming out of your rabbit’s ear this is always a sure sign of an infection.
Head tilts and head-shaking
Rabbits will try to shake their head in an effort to relieve the itchiness or the blockage caused by scabbing in their ears. However, for very advanced stages, rabbits will exhibit behaviors such as head tilting.
Head-tilting in rabbits means that they are losing balance some might even exhibit other symptoms such as eye flickers. It usually means that the ear mites have already migrated to the inner parts of your rabbit’s ears. This should require immediate veterinary attention before it gets worst.
Hunching, Grinding of Teeth or Screaming
Because can cause swelling and infections, your rabbits might find these very painful. Rabbits are good at hiding their discomfort but extreme pain will still be shown in their subtle body language.
Rabbits who are in pain will hunch (pulling their hind legs close to their body and closing their eyes), grind their teeth loudly, and scream when you touch their ears. Rabbits will scream if they are in extreme pain.
If this is the case with your rabbits then you need to take them to the vet immediately.
5 Tips to Treat Ear Mites in Rabbits
1. Prevention is key
Remember that prevention is better than cure. Grooming is an important factor in avoiding your rabbits from getting ear mites or catching the sickness early before it gets worse.
It’s also important to know that lop ear bunnies are more susceptible to getting ear mites than other rabbits. This is because their turned-down ears trap more moisture that is conducive to bacterial growth.
2. Visit your Veterinarian
Regular visits to a veterinarian also go a long way toward preventing ear mites. Try not to self-diagnose and treat your bunnies yourself.
You might be able to identify the symptoms of ear mites but you would need a veterinarian to confirm as well as to prescribe the right medication for your bunnies.
3. Give Ivermectin
Ivermectin is an anti-parasitic medicine that can be injected or ingested via tablets. You would need to have your bunny seen by your trusted vet to get the right dosage as well as the right application for your bunnies.
A vet will also teach you the best way to treat your rabbits with ivermectin that is less stressful both to you and your pet bunny.
4. Treat Secondary Infections
Since ear mites can cause secondary infections such as itchiness in other parts of the body, then it is important as well to treat these secondary infections to prevent them from getting worst. Antibiotics might be needed to treat these infections. However, you will still need vet advice for these.
5. Do not use OTC medicines
This is another major no-no when it comes to treating your rabbits. I cannot emphasize more the importance of veterinary expertise.
Always align your rabbit’s medications with vet advice. OTC medicines can cause toxicity in rabbits and thus could prove to be dangerous to them.
What if Ear Mites are Not Treated in Rabbits?
If ear mites are not treated immediately, this could prove fatal to your rabbits because they can cause secondary infections and sicknesses. First, the inflammation that is caused by the ear mites can travel throughout the body.
Remember that mites can travel, so they can travel from your rabbit’s ears to other parts of their body. Which means your rabbit will not just be itching in their ears, they will also be itching all over. This will then cause fur loss and other skin issues.
Aside from spreading into other external parts of a rabbit’s body. REar mites can also go deeper into their ear canal and cause havoc there. Ear mites can cause rupture of the tympanic membrane and in really worst cases they can travel to the brain and cause different neurological problems.
Also, rabbits who are sick will tend to be lethargic and lose their appetite. Food is important to a rabbit’s well-being.
You can prevent ear mite infestation with your rabbits. With consistent grooming and the right knowledge, it’s possible to not even suffer from this problem at all.
Ear mites can be life-threatening to rabbits and should be taken seriously. Any symptoms should merit a vet visit.