Ear Mites in Rabbits – Causes and Treatment:- The way you care for your rabbit is very important. The ear mites or the Psoroptes cuniculi are one of the common issues that you should watch out for as an owner. Any breed of rabbit could suffer this infection, irrespective of age.
This mite could affect either one ear or the two together. In some cases, it could also spread to other parts of the rabbit’s body. Yet, the rabbit ear mite is a moderate condition. But when left untreated for some days, it could lead to a big issue. For instance, it could lead to bacterial infection of the skin of the inner ear or loss of hearing.
In this article, you will learn about rabbit ear mite causes, symptoms, and other useful tips. Keep reading for more information.
What are rabbit ear mites?
Rabbit ear mites are caused by the parasite known as Psoroptes cuniculi. It is found in either or both of the ears and will spread to surrounding areas of the ear. It is usually in large oval shape and it could be seen on the body of the rabbit, especially when it is on the external part of the ear. These mites would feed on the body of the rabbit by piercing the skin with their suckers. This will then result in severe itching for the rabbit.
Rabbit ear mites could live up to 21 days and also reproduce by laying eggs in the ear wax of the rabbit. They thrive well when the rabbit’s body and the environment are conducive. They spread from one rabbit to another through direct body contact from an infected rabbit to a non-infected one. Ear mites could also be transmitted through environmental contact. The rate of transmission is usually high when a large number of infected rabbits share the same shelter and other facilities with those that are not infected.
You might not notice or diagnose that the rabbit is infected at the early stage unless you are a vet. This is because they are very small and they stay deeper in the ear canal. If not treated early, rabbit ear mites will multiply. But when you take your rabbit to a vet for regular inspection, the infection could be discovered early. Moreover, it could lead to severe skin infections and deafness in the infected ear.
Symptoms of Ear Mites in Rabbits
Discovering rabbit ear mites at the early stage could be difficult unless you take the rabbit to a vet. The good news is that it is not something critical at this stage. Besides, there would be visible signs at the later stage of the infection but it varies. Here are some of the signs that will suggest a rabbit has been infested by ear mites.
- Ear scratching at the early stage.
- Periodic shaking of the head.
- Swelling or redness of the ear canal.
- The rabbit becomes agitated due to pain and discomfort.
- Damaged skin due to severe itching and scratching.
- Hairless skin.
- Loss of appetite.
- An unexpected weight reduction.
How to treat rabbit ear mites?
You should not panic if you discover that your rabbit is infested with ear mites. The good news is that you can easily treat your animal. For effective treatment, you should treat both the infected rabbit, the shelter, and the environment. The following are some of the ways of treating rabbit ear mites.
Separate the infected rabbit
Ear mites easily spread from the host to other animals through body contact. You can begin the treatment and recovery process by separating the infected animal from the rest. You should also separate the infected animal so that the ear mites and the eggs in the shelter would die off when they do not have what to feed on. You should create an alternative conducive shelter for the infected rabbit.
Consult a vet for Ear Mites in Rabbits
You need to see a vet to ensure effective treatment. In most cases, the vet would prescribe medication. This might include pain relief and antibiotics, depending on the extent of the infection. You should also give your vet the progress report. Seeing a vet would ensure that the rabbit gets adequate medication and treatment for other sicknesses that could be caused by ear mite infections.
Decontaminate the environment
Rabbit ear mites could live up to three weeks. There could be a residual on some items in the rabbit’s cage. If possible, you should identify all the likely contaminated items in the shelter. You can then decontaminate them. Nevertheless, you can replace all the contaminated items with new and fresh sets.
Stay away from the shelter
As a precaution, it is recommended that you leave the rabbit in its new house for at least two months. Doing this will ensure that the residual mites and eggs are dead. It will also ensure that the environment is safe for the animal, especially when you have used chemical decontaminants.
Things you should not do while treating rabbit ear mites
The steps highlighted above are effective when you want to treat rabbit ear mites. However, it is important to also highlight some of the things you should not do during the treatment period. Though instinct might suggest it, here are some of the things you should avoid when you are treating an infected rabbit.
Be mindful of the medication
Many medications are marketed for rabbits and other animals in the store. It is recommended that you should not use any medication that is not prescribed by a vet for the treatment. This is because some of the over-the-counter medication contains toxic chemicals. In the long run, the issue could be complicated or even lead to death.
There are many DIYs and home remedies for treating rabbit ear mites on the internet. It could involve the use of vegetables or oil to smoothen the skin of the rabbit. Though this might not be harmful, the reality is that it might not be an effective method of treating rabbit ear mites. It is strongly recommended that you see a vet for proper treatment.
Avoid peeling the skin
If you love your pet, the sight of some dried skin on it will be unappealing to you. While treating the infected rabbit, you might be tempted to peel off the dry and ugly skin from the rabbit’s ear. The truth is that the ugly skin adheres to the rabbit’s skin. Peeling the skin will be a painful experience for the rabbit. It could also lead to a cut or torn skin. With time, the skin will peel off. You can also facilitate the quick removal of the dried skin by using mineral oil to soften the skin of the rabbit.
How to prevent rabbit ear mites
Rabbit ear mites are a common infection for rabbits. When infected, the rabbit becomes uncomfortable. It could have severe consequences when left untreated. You can be proactive by preventing it from happening. Highlighted below are some of the ways of preventing rabbit ear mites.
Periodic cleaning of the ear
Regular cleaning of the rabbit’s ear could help prevent ear mites. You can use baby oil or safe ear-cleaning products. All you need to do is to clean the places where you can easily access the rabbit’s ear. Baby oil will smoothen any invisible mite on the rabbit’s ear. This is not harmful in any way. The use of cotton swabs is strongly discouraged.
Avoid mixing your rabbits with unknown rabbits
Rabbit ear mites are not easily noticed on the body of the infected animal. You should not allow your rabbit to mix with unknown ones. This will reduce the risk of infection. Only you know where you keep and how you care for your rabbit. If your rabbit must mix with others, make sure you only allow such if you know the status of the other rabbits.
Watch out for the symptoms
The aim is to prevent rabbit ear mites in the first place. You can also prevent it from happening by watching out for some of the symptoms that have been highlighted earlier.
Have a clean shelter
A dirty rabbit hutch is a good habitat for bacteria and other things that could cause infection. To prevent rabbit ear mites, you should clean the cage of your rabbits regularly. If possible, you can also temporarily relocate the rabbit to a new shelter. This will allow you to decontaminate the old shelter.
Stop the spread
If you have had contact with an unknown or infested rabbit, make sure you clean yourself before handling your rabbit. You should wash your hands and even change your clothes.
Keep your rabbit safe
Rabbits that roam around have a higher risk of being infected by rabbit ear mites than those that stay indoors. You can prevent the infection by keeping your rabbit safe indoors.
Keeping an eye on the rabbit is a good way to prevent rabbit ear mites and detect early symptoms. Doing this will help you tackle any potential issue.