Rabbit Health

Cutting rabbit's nails

Cutting Rabbits Nails

Have you ever carried your rabbit, only to see long scratch marks down your arms?

Rabbit nails can be really sharp. They can hurt you or accidentally break your skin, even if the rabbit doesn’t intend to. 

In the wild, a rabbit’s nails will easily get worn down during their day-to-day life. Digging burrows and running on rough dirt and rocky spots gives the necessary wear-and-tear to keep their nails from becoming too long.

But as pets, rabbits don’t do the same rough activities to stop their nails from overgrowing. We have to do our part as pet owners and pay attention to the condition of their nails and clip them when necessary.

Before trimming a rabbit’s nails, though, look for the vein that goes up each nail and try to avoid clipping it. If you cannot find this vein, pinch gently on the clippers before making a cut. If the rabbit pulls their foot away back, try clipping their nails closer to the tip. This is a lot easier if done by two people, but can also be succeeded by yourself.

Understanding the Rabbit Nail Anatomy

Like their teeth, rabbit nails are continually growing. They have 18 toenails, 4 on both of their back feet and 5 on both of their front feet.

The fifth nail on both of the rabbit’s front paws is on the inside of their foot. It looks slightly like a thumbnail, although rabbits don’t have opposable thumbs. That’s why this is often the most challenging nail to clip because it has a tendency to lurk in the rabbit’s fur.

Rabbit toenails are claws but they are pretty similar to cat claws, which are extensions of a cat’s toes.

Other than the quick, rabbits do not possess these nerves or pain receptors in the nail. The purpose of their nails is essential to make it easy for the rabbit to dig holes, protect their toes, and stay safe on slippery surfaces.

Their claws can also be used to defend themselves against predators when cornered.

The quick

Rabbit nails have a vein called “quick” that goes into the base of all of their nails. This is what you should avoid when clipping your pet bunny’s nails. Otherwise, it will be bloody painful for your pet. 

You can easily notice this vein in the rabbit’s nails if they are a lighter color, but it can be hard to see on darker colored nails.

For these dark-nailed rabbits, many pet owners suggest using a flashlight. This can be challenging, but what you need to do is hold the light at the back of the nail to help you find the quick.

Another tip is to squeeze a little pressure on the clippers before you cut all the way through. If the rabbit flinches a little, this indicates you are too close to the vein and need to cut it a little further out.

Avoiding cutting the quick

There is no need to turn your rabbits upside down just to cut their nails. If their nails are very long and the quick is quite high, you can help it recede by what’s known as nibbling.

Clip your rabbit’s nails twice a week or even every other day, just by nibbling a little bit off. As the rabbit’s nails get shorter, the quick will too.

How long should rabbit nails be?

There is no perfect length for a rabbit nail. The indicator that most pet owners use to identify when it’s time to clip their rabbit’s claws is when the nails start to come out beyond the fur of their feet.

For most breeds of rabbits, this is the most reliable way to determine that their nails are getting a little long. However, for short-haired and long-haired breeds of rabbits, this might not work.

Short-haired rex rabbits tend to possess nails that begin to turn sooner than other rabbit breeds. For these rabbits, you should consider clipping their nails as soon as you see that little curl start to build.

On the other hand, long-haired angora rabbits will have nails that are too long if you wait for them to reach their fur length. Monitor their nails and clip them as needed. 

Another sign that it’s time to clip your rabbit’s nails is you’re seeing that their claws are curling. The same thing goes if they can’t seem to hop around easily.

What Happens if I Let My Rabbit’s Nails Grow?

Overgrown rabbit nails can cause more than scratch you up. They can get snagged on a carpet or other flooring, making the nail or toe break. Their nails can also start curling in, making the rabbit walk in an abnormal way.

For your rabbit’s health, it’s essential to monitor their nails and clip them every couple of months.

The quick grows along with the nail

If you just let your rabbit’s nails grow, the quick will grow along. This will make cutting their nails more difficult.

Clipping too much off of the end of the nail will indicate you’re cutting into the quick.

To get the rabbit’s nails down to a perfect length, you’ll have to clip a little bit off the end of the nail each week or so. This will provide the vein some time to adjust to the size of the nail again.

It will stress your rabbit’s feet

Rabbit nails, when left growing, start to curl inward. This can cause a lot of stress on their feet.

What happens is that your pet will have to downshift its weight and walk in an abnormal way. This can slow your rabbit down and prevent them from binking around, which is essential for their health.

The unnatural movements caused by overgrown nails will also place extra strain on a rabbit’s leg joints. It can also put stress on the more sensitive parts of their feet. This can be a contributor to conditions like arthritis and sore hocks (when a rabbit gets sores on the bottom of its heels), making it very painful for the rabbit to move around.

Likely to snag and break

Overgrown nails are also pretty likely to get snagged on something, such as the carpet, and break off. Although not life-threatening, this can be bloody and frightening. 

Getting one of their nails snagged on something can also make a rabbit’s toe break. This is something that is very hard to detect but can create pain for your pet. To avoid this, it’s essential to keep your rabbit’s nails clipped and trimmed.

How to Trim a Rabbit’s Nails?

Clipping a rabbit’s nails can be very difficult. It’s one of the most challenging tasks of grooming a rabbit. That’s because they will usually kick and struggle as you patiently try to keep them still and get their nails trimmed.

If you ever sense that you can’t get your rabbit’s nails clipped on your own, or you’re worried that you’ll clip the quick, consider going to a vet instead.

Tools you need

If you are working with a partner, the only tool you need is a pair of animal nail clippers. You can use a spring-loaded clipper for a quick cut or just use a smaller handheld clipper for more control.

But remember, you should NOT use scissors or human nail clippers. These will make it hard to get a clean-cut, and you are likely to end up ruining the nail.

Clippers

Rabbits have round nails, so clippers that have a rounded edge are excellent. Human nail clippers are created for thin, flat nails, but will somehow work in a pinch.

Many pet owners prefer safety scissor-style clippers. If you can’t find nail clippers built for small animals, those designed for cats are often a safe bet.

It all comes down to what is most convenient for you and to your rabbit. 

Towel

It’s common for your bunny to get antsy at grooming sessions. You know how those autonomous types can be. Nonetheless, you can use a towel to safely restrain them in a burrito style. 

Flashlight

Rabbits with light-colored nails impose less of a challenge because their quick is easy to recognize. Meanwhile, you can use a flashlight to find the quick of your dark-nailed bunny. 

Styptic Powder (Magic Dust)

In case you cut the quick accidentally, styptic powder and applying a few seconds of pressure will end the bleeding. This is an investment you won’t regret.

Treats

Need we say more? Treats can be used as a distraction for a squirmy rabbit, a bribe, or a peace offering.

Clipping the nails with a partner

Clipping your rabbit’s nails with a partner is by far the easiest choice. If you have anyone who can lend you a hand, we recommend asking them for help.

One of you should have the task of keeping the rabbit still and calm, while the other works the clippers to trim the rabbit’s nails.

The person carrying your pet should place the rabbit with its paws facing outward. That way, the other person can access all of the nails. Alternatively, you can set them in a half cradle in your arms. Your task is to keep the rabbit calm and as still as possible.

With all the rabbit’s nails facing outward, you should be able to simply clip them one by one. Sometimes you’ll need to stop while the rabbit is calmed down or is repositioned. Doing so will allow you to reach the claws easily.

Clipping the nails by yourself

We won’t sugarcoat this, but clipping a rabbit’s nails all by yourself will not be an easy task. Keeping your rabbits calm while you handle their feet and find their nails is surely a great challenge. This whole procedure can take a lot longer than it seems it should. 

If you have a calm rabbit, you will likely be able to succeed through this process without too much trouble. However, most rabbits are feisty and you will have to constantly go back to step one just to calm your rabbit down again.

Despite this, we can say that with patience, you will surely succeed.

Put your rabbit on a table 

Make sure you have a towel on the table so your rabbit will be more relaxed. Pet your rabbit and give them a relaxing massage.

Wrap around and pull 

You want to place your rabbit on the end of the table against your body so they will feel secure. Make sure that you always keep yourself between your rabbit and the edge of the table. You don’t want them to fall off. Place your hand on top of your rabbit’s head to encourage them to stay calm during the next step.

Clip the nails on the first front foot

Try to finish all five nails. The “thumbnail” on the inside of the foot is always the most difficult to find. This step will surely take a long time because your rabbit will keep dragging their leg back.

If your rabbit does not cooperate at all, you can try setting them in a half burrito in a towel. Make sure that their front legs are hanging out in front of them. Repeat the second and third procedures with the other front paw.

Hold your rabbit up on its hind legs

Carry your rabbit underneath their chest, keeping them held up against your body so they will feel secure. Then slowly clip the nails on your rabbit’s back feet.

Most rabbit owners find the hind legs are easier to clip than the front legs. But if your rabbit keeps getting out of your grasp, rearrange how you’re handling the rabbit and try again.

After you’re done clipping their nails, give your rabbit a yummy treat and let them stroll around as they please.

Most rabbits will certainly be very mad at you for a short time after clipping their nails. Just leave them alone for a while until they are ready to forgive you. Over time, as you manage your rabbit more and get used to clipping their nails, this method will get easier and your rabbit will get used to it.

What if the Nail Starts to Bleed?

Cutting into the quick and making your rabbit’s nails bleed can happen. Mind you, this can be bloody and frightening. None of us want to hurt our rabbits or any of our pets, so seeing them bleed so much can be unsettling.

While it is a little uncomfortable for the rabbit if you clip into the quick (kind of like when we humans break a nail), this is not a life threatening situation. Your rabbit will surely recover in no time and wonder why you are causing such a fuss. 

If you accidentally clip into the quick and the rabbit’s nail starts to bleed, just use a cotton ball with a little cornstarch to help stop the bleeding.

Apply a little pressure to the cotton ball against the nail for a couple of minutes. After the blood has stopped flowing, let your rabbit go free.

They will lick their nails to wipe the “wound” and then proceed to hop around like normal.

A Note About “Hypnotizing” or “Trancing” a Rabbit

Some rabbit owners will carry their rabbit on its back so it goes perfectly still, as if in a trance, when clipping their nails.

This is in fact very cruel as the rabbit is scared and playing dead is part of its prey animal response. Please, never do this to your rabbits.

You can either carry your rabbit with its backside while being supported, as if it is sitting up to cut the nails. You can also place it on a towel on a countertop, and very carefully pull the foot to the side to get to the nails.

How Often Should I Trim My Rabbit’s Nails?

Most rabbit nails will be required to be trimmed every 1 to 2 months.

Rabbits that are provided areas with rough flooring or places they can dig into enable them to normally wear down their nails a little bit in their everyday life. Therefore they might not require their nails to be trimmed as often.

It’s best to monitor the length of your rabbit’s nails every month or so, just to make sure that they are not at risk of growing too long.

Other Ways to Keep Your Rabbit’s Nails Short

You can also help your rabbit keep their nails short, so you don’t have to clip them frequently. To do this, you’ll need to provide your rabbit with a variety of rough surfaces to walk on, not just soft carpet.

For example, letting your rabbit some space to hop on hardwood flooring can be helpful. You can also provide your rabbit with some digging surfaces to help them wear down their nails. You can use cardboard boxes, cat scratcher mats, and corrugated cardboard cat scratchers for your rabbit to have fun digging into.

This will also provide your rabbit a chance to use its natural burrowing abilities without causing any damages to your house or furniture.

Giving a rabbit these other materials will not entirely replace the need to clip their nails, but it should reduce the need to trim their claws frequently.

Final Thoughts

A rabbit can kick and hurt its back when struggling. So, handling them with care is extra important during nail trimming.

They’ll feel more secure when held close to your body or on a solid surface. When possible, ask another person to hold the rabbit, carrying their back end, while the other person performs the clipping. This is also where using a towel comes in handy. 

Remember, if your pet bunny becomes too worked up, it’s okay to take a break for some petting or treats until it calms down. 

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Do rabbits get fleas?

Can Rabbits Get Fleas?

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Sometimes, pet owners forget that rabbits can get fleas too! Although it does not happen often as with dogs and cats, rabbits are not exempted from getting infested with these critters.

But in order to know how to get rid of fleas on rabbits, it is important to know how rabbits get fleas in the first place and how to spot them.

What Are Fleas?

What Are Fleas?
What Are Fleas?

Fleas are small, wingless pests that can travel tremendous distances by jumping. In order to survive, fleas must consume warm blood, and they aren’t surely fussy. Most household pets can be attacked by fleas and humans are at risk too. 

Did you know there are over 2,000 varieties of flea? However, your pet bunny is likely to get cat fleas despite the existence of rabbit-specific fleas.

Do Rabbits Get Fleas?

Yes! They sure do. And guess what? Fleas are no joke.

Rabbits are more inclined to getting fleas if they move outside or if there are other rabbits in the house. This is why many pet owners should be educated on how to deal with them and help prevent your pet rabbit from getting hurt by these vicious little creatures.

Flea Reproduction Cycle

  1. An adult flea lays eggs and she must have fed to lay (an adult flea that cannot obtain food will die before laying). She can produce up to 500 eggs in her lifetime! 
  2. The eggs are tiny and white, and while they are usually laid on the host, they aren’t attached in any way. This means that as your pet travels around your home, the eggs will slide off and could get inside the carpet fibers, cracks in the floor, soft furnishings, hutch corners, and pet bedding. It is considered that if you have fleas in your home, half of the population will surely be in egg form. 
  3. Flea eggs will hatch into flea larvae within 12 days. These larvae are the same as the caterpillar stage of butterflies, although they feed on organic debris instead of blood. They don’t like the light, so they tend to go deeper into wherever they are hiding. That’s why you rarely see them despite knowing that they can make up about 35% of the flea population in your home. 
  4. After about 1-3 weeks, larvae will turn themselves into a cocoon and start to change into adult fleas. The developing larvae inside its cocoon are now called pupae, which makes around 10% of the flea population in your house. 
  5. It is the pupae that make fleas so hard to eradicate. In favorable situations, pupae will hatch into adult fleas just within days to weeks. But in unfavorable situations, pupae can rest dormant in their cocoons for months! They are also sticky, so it can be challenging to remove them with light vacuuming or sweeping. 
  6. When conditions are right, an adult flea will appear. They must find a new host quickly to feed and lay their eggs. These adult fleas are not fussy, and can easily jump on a rabbit, even if they originated from a dog or cat! 

Myxomatosis and Fleas

Flea on a human skin. Super macro

Although fleas are uncommon in rabbits, they do occur with great risk. Fleas are capable of giving the rabbit the virus myxomatosis, which is almost always deadly. Thankfully, rabbits can be vaccinated against myxomatosis.

How Do Rabbits Get Fleas?

If you like to provide your rabbit with outdoor time, you must be extra cautious againts fleas. Just like with several animals, it is quite easy for a rabbit to pick up the wayward flea in the vast outdoors.

Keep in mind, fleas are also great hitchhikers. They can jump onto your pants and then come into the house and locate their way onto your pet rabbit. You can even let fleas get inside your home by just opening your windows. Those little buggers can jump high enough to reach your house through the screens. There may also be a history of fleas on other animals in your home

At the beginning of the infestation, there may be no indications that your rabbit had already caught fleas. Your rabbit may or may not seem to be itchy depending on its sensitivity to flea bites. But some signs to watch out for are biting, licking, chewing, or scratching..

Fleas drop their feces on the skin or in the rabbit’s fur. These are called flea dirt. Flea dirt is tiny, comma-shaped black debris the size of pepper grains. Fleas or flea dirt may be detected on a fine flea comb used for grooming. But most commonly, rabbits will incur fleas from one of the other family pets, especially dogs or cats.

The bottom line is that your rabbit can still get fleas even if he never runs outside his enclosure or sees another animal.

Small red bite marks or sores may be observed on the skin of your pet that will occasionally become infected and form into a secondary bacterial skin infection. All fleas take a small blood meal, and young rabbits with dense infestations may even become anemic over time.

Proper veterinary examinations (at least once a year) help with the initial identification of the problem and proper treatment. Your veterinarian will check the rabbit’s fur and skin for a sign of fleas and other external parasites and determine the suitable treatment.

Diagnosis

Although flea infestation can be quickly visible by the presence of the insects on your rabbit’s body, your veterinarian may require to differentiate the insects from ear mites, skin mites, or other parasites. If your rabbit has signs of severe itching (biting, licking, and scratching), your veterinarian will also want to separate the reaction from other allergic reactions, infections, or reactions to injections.

For diagnosis of flea infestation, your doctor will perform a flea combing. That’s because fleas and flea dirt are normally found in infected rabbits. An examination of skin scrapings will conclude whether bacterial infections or other skin parasites are present.

A study of discharge from the ear, meanwhile, will verify whether an ear infection is concerning your rabbit or whether ear mites are present. And a full blood profile will be carried as part of a standard physical examination.

How to Detect Fleas on a Pet Rabbit?

It is much more difficult to spot fleas on rabbits because their fur is so thick and lush. These pesky little insects will go deep down to the skin and stay hidden.

Sometimes, you may be able to see small, dark grains that seem just like specks of dirt. These bits can flea poop (aka flea dirt). And finding flea poop is a telltale indication that your pet is suffering from a flea problem. 

If you are uncertain whether a speck is dirt or flea debris, you can put it on a paper towel and put a drop of water on it. If it is flea dirt, a red ring (blood) will appear within several minutes around the speck. This will work whether you spot the speck on your rabbit, dog, cat, or other pet.

Another indication that your rabbit might have fleas is itching. Some rabbits will be very itchy and may sometimes even generate sores or bald spots in their fur from scratching.

But remember that even if you don’t notice any signs of fleas on your bunny, that doesn’t suggest that she doesn’t have fleas. Some rabbits are so good at grooming that they find and eat the fleas well before you can detect any signs of a problem.

If you aren’t sure, a veterinarian will be able to verify whether or not your pet rabbit has fleas.

What to Do When My Rabbit Has Fleas?

If your rabbit was attacked by fleas, don’t panic! Although an infestation can take time to exterminate, your vet will help you with everything you require to get rid of this infestation on your pets and in your home. 

For Indoor Rabbits

  • Treat all rabbits, cats, and dogs in your home with flea treatment. 
  • Examine other furry family members thoroughly to check they are not also infested, and treat them if required.
  • Examine ALL through your home.
  • Treat cats and dogs with flea treatment frequently going forward.

The first population of fleas can be reduced by:

  • Flea treatment for every pet.
  • Flea-killing house spray (make sure to read safety instructions).
  • Carpet cleaning.
  • Routine hoovering and sweeping, including in the darkest and most difficult to reach areas. Don’t forget to toss away the dust bag from your vacuum cleaner after each use, else the flea larvae may jump back out! 
  • Hot washing fabrics at over 60 degrees will kill any fleas.

By completing all of the above, you can dramatically lessen the number of fleas in your home.

The flea treatment for your pets will change them into walking ‘flea killers’ and indicates that adult fleas will die without producing any more eggs. By treating the house, you will kill or eliminate many of the eggs and pupae that are settling in your home.

For Outdoor Rabbits

  • Treat all rabbits, cats, and dogs in your home with flea treatment. Examine other furry family members carefully to check they are not also infested, and treat them if needed.
  • If any indoor pets have fleas, make sure to treat the whole house as well as the outdoor hutch.
  • Clean and disinfect the hutch completely. Make sure to read the warning instructions carefully on any cleaners, and do not place your rabbit back into a treated hutch until it is safe to do so.

How to Get Rid of Fleas on a Rabbit?

Rabbits are very hard to treat because makers of flea and tick meds do not release any products specifically for use on bunnies.

However, this does not imply that we have no reliable medications for rabbits to use to keep fleas away. It is just a matter of finding a product that is safe for rabbits.

Are There Safe Flea Treatments for Rabbits?

Rabbits possess very sensitive systems. Applying the wrong flea treatment medication can prove to be very dangerous to your bunny. It can make them sick or can even be deadly.

Thus, it is always recommended to consult a veterinarian that has experience with rabbits. They will be able to prescribe a rabbit-safe product, as well as instruct you with the proper dosage. 

Knowing the product dosage is important. That’s because rabbits differ from tiny, little 1-pound minis up to 18-pound giants. Meaning, a topical product intended for cats may still be an overdose for some rabbits and unacceptable for larger rabbits.

Various flea and tick medications, such as Advantage for cats and Revolution, appear to be safe and effective against rabbit fleas. In most instances, pet owners choose to use Revolution because of the recommended dosing that has been established for rabbits. It also has the chance of treating other parasites such as ear mites, which may also be a concern for your bunny.

Always check with your veterinarian before supplying your pet with a new flea and tick medication.

When Should I Apply Flea Treatments for My Rabbits?

It is recommended to treat all animals in the house (including rabbits) year-round. Rabbits treated in this procedure will generally not produce any significant flea infestation. If you already have fleas, the same topical remedies will treat and eradicate the fleas.

The amount of time it takes to eradicate the fleas will vary depending on the time of year your house becomes infested.

During the colder months, it may take many months to completely get rid of the fleas. In the summer, it is a much faster process because the eggs and pupae require less time to hatch when the weather is warmer.

Treat the Whole House to Prevent Any Fleas From Infesting Your Rabbit

You can also speed up the process of flea removal by treating your house.

What you can do is pick up all the pet beddings and wash them regularly. The dryer heat will help to dry out and eliminate those pests hiding in the fabric. Vacuuming the whole house—even hardwood floors—and then emptying the canister into a garbage bag that is then sealed and brought to the outdoor garbage receptacle can also help to get rid of flea eggs and larvae or pupae.

An ounce of prevention is always worth the weight of cure. Fleas can transmit several different diseases, so it is well worth the work to prevent them from affecting your pets and your household in the first place.

It is highly recommended to treat all furred animals in the household every month with a quality flea and tick medication that will disrupt the flea life cycle. Your veterinarian can help you determine appropriate products for all of your pets.

Risk of Fleas in Human Health

In severe infestations, fleas may bite humans and may produce problems in people sensitive to insect bites. Bite marks may be seen around the ankles. Thus, anyone experiencing skin problems in a flea-infested house should consult with their physician.

Flea bites can also create more than itchy skin. Bartonella (also called cat-scratch disease) can be carried by flea feces. It can be due to accidental ingestion or by going into small breaks in the skin.

Causing a low-grade fever and swelling of the lymph nodes, Bartonella infection can frequently be mistaken for the flu. In several cases it resolves on its own. In some people, however, Bartonella infection can grow and cause chronic fatigue and headaches and may become very dangerous.

Final Thoughts

The fleas and flea dirt, as well as itching and fur loss, should decrease with efficient flea control. If signs still persist, you must return to your veterinarian for an evaluation of other causes.

Introduce measures for flea control for all other pets in the household, particularly dogs and cats. If you are living in year-round warm weather, be especially careful of flea infestation all year long. Start having aggressive flea control as early as April or May.

Exercise extreme caution when dipping or bathing rabbits in medicated flea-killing shampoos. Due to the high risk of skeletal breaks and extreme chilling, sudden death may occur. If you are employing topical spot-on products, make sure that the product has dried before providing your rabbit’s freedom to groom themselves or their mates. 

Secondary bacterial infections and adverse effects to flea-control products may transpire. If any indications of toxicity are seen or if your rabbit should show any signs of behavioral or physical transformation, you should bathe the rabbit completely. This is to eliminate any remaining chemicals and treat the rabbit appropriately.

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Ear Mites in Rabbits

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Ear mites create a disease called ‘ear canker’ in rabbits. The mites cause inflammation, irritation, and discharge that can drive the infection to reach into the middle and inner ear. To stop this, early identification and treatment are necessary.  

What are They?

Rabbit ear mites, or Psoroptes cuniculi, are a natural parasitic problem that causes the condition known as ear canker. Considered as one of the most prevalent mites of rabbits, it also produces infection in cavies, horses, goats, antelopes, sheep, and cattle.

If left untreated, canker can lead to secondary bacterial diseases of the skin or penetrate the middle and inner ear, leading to neurological disorders and fatal meningitis.

This mite can be seen in brown or black color. It is just large enough to be noticeable to the naked eye. The saliva and feces of the mite create damage and inflammation in the delicate skin of the ear. There may be up to 10,000 mites in a single infected ear, so the damage can be very harsh.

Type

P. cuniculi is a large, non-burrowing mite, rounded to oval in shape, which can be observed by the eye of an infected animal. Oftentimes, however, the mites penetrate the deeper regions of the external ear canal where they are not noticeable.

The mite is only evident when on the external folds of the ear and inside the ear pinnae (ear flap).

Mites enter the skin at the base of hairs and use bell-shaped suckers to feast on the host’s lymphatic fluids. The mucus and fecal substance from the mites cause an inflammatory reaction resulting in harsh itching.

Life Cycle

Depending on environmental circumstances, the cycle of P. cuniculi is about 21 days.

Mites will lay their eggs in the ear wax or dead skin of the host. The eggs will hatch into larvae in about four days. At this point, the larvae have six legs and will dwell in this stage for four days and then begin to molt. After another three to 10 days, and they will become eight-legged protonymphs. 

The protonymphs will then molt into adults, which will mate with one another and lay eggs.

The mites can last on the host for four to 21 days. The survival rate is highest when the temperature is low and the humidity is high (greater than 75%).

Early stages

In its early stages of infestation, the ear mites penetrate the deeper parts of the rabbit’s external ear canal. At this stage, the mites won’t be noticeable and you may not realize that there is a problem. A regular visit to the veterinarian can lead to early diagnosis by examining the ear canals of your rabbit and noticing the first deposits. 

Moderate to advanced stages 

If the mite infestation is not diagnosed and treated immediately, it will worsen and the problem will be easily visible. The ear mites will multiply, pointing to more crusting and inflammation and spreading from your rabbit’s ear canal to its pinna. If the condition is left untreated, it may lead to a secondary bacterial infection of your rabbit’s skin.

Transmission

A rabbit can catch the disease from contact with an infected rabbit or food, bedding, or objects that bear the mites or its eggs. People cannot get the disease but can pass it by carrying mites or eggs on hands or clothes after touching an infected rabbit.

It is believed that pre-existing moist dermatitis produces a suitable environment for the mites to infest.

Rabbit ear canker is very contagious and commonly spread by direct contact from an infected to a non-infected animal. Mites easily crawl from one to another. The mites can also be spread through contact with the environment when an animal scratches or shakes, creating flakes of the mite-infested canker.

Transmission is more apparent when large numbers of rabbits, or other susceptible hosts, are housed near to one another. Excellent examples would be overcrowded hutches, pet shops, shelters, rabbit breeding facilities, and wild rabbit warrens.

What Breed of Rabbits is at Most Risk?

Ear mite infestations are highly infectious. Care is needed to restrain the infestation by isolation, as it can be very damaging to litters of young rabbits.

Lop-eared rabbits, especially Dwarf Lops, can be affected more seriously. That’s because the dropped ear flap provides a warm, moist environment for the mite. 

Signs and Symptoms

An initial infestation may be overlooked if it starts deeper in the ear canal. Owners may see ear scratching and head shaking at this initial stage. Other signs involve redness, heat, and inflammation of the ear canal.

As the mites reproduce, the infestation extends to the outer ear flap and, at this point, is obvious. It is not uncommon to have only one ear infested.

The host animal will usually be very agitated at this stage, itching and scratching at its ears and head repeatedly. The self-trauma of itching and scratching wounds the ear skin even more, resulting to inflammation, itching, and scratching.

The inflammation also makes the serum and white blood cells to ooze onto the skin surface confining the mites, feces, and skin cells and then drying out. This leaves the crusting, scabbing, and dense scale or gray, flaky skin debris connected to the inside of the ear flap. Underneath the crust, you will notice that the skin is moist, hairless, and raw.

The crusting and scabbing can reach the head and neck, as well as other parts of the body. Ear drooping can also be the effect of the weight of scabbing around the outside of the ear.

Skin inflammation 

Initially, you will notice scaly, peeling skin in the ear as rabbits tend to scratch their ears with their hindlegs. Eventually, this will lead to fur loss, skin inflammation, and wounds. The forelimbs may become engulfed with discharge and inflamed from rubbing at the ears. 

Head or ear shaking

As the mite bodily fluids aggravate and inflame the skin. A rabbit cannot scratch their ears, so they shake their heads to try and relieve the discomfort they’re encountering.

Thick discharge around the ear base

The yellow or brown discharge adheres closely to the skin and fur. Eventually, due to pain and the weight of the discharge as it progresses, their ears start to sag.

Head tilt

This severe sign may be present if a secondary bacterial infection happens. If very sick, or the rabbit is critically affected, they may stop eating and hide. 

If left untreated, ear canker can start secondary bacterial infections, in addition to the pain and discomfort. A foul smell to the ear is also an indication of an infection.

Head tilt and hints of being off-balance are also symptoms you should look out for.

Treatment

Visit your vet as soon as you notice any signs of disease. Your vet will perform a thorough examination of the ears to ensure that this is an ear mite infestation, as it is only visible with an otoscope. Alternatively, a sample of earwax may be inspected under a microscope to confirm the presence of mites or eggs.  

It is also essential to treat the infected animal and its environment to prevent re-contamination.

While treating the animal, it is advised to also transfer the infected animal from its living environment to give the mites and eggs a possibility to die off. A large-sized box or container with clean, disposable bedding makes an ideal temporary housing.

Two main treatment alternatives are available for treating ear mites. Systemic treatments employ oral, injectable, or dermal absorbed antiparasitic drugs. Systemic treatments are typically preferred because they require fewer repetitive dosages, ease of giving, and better results. On the other hand, topical treatments utilize antiparasitic medications directly to the infected spots as drops, powders, or oils.

P. cuniculi can be treated with avermectin drugs, including Ivermectin and Selamectin. Injections or oral doses of Ivermectin must be repeatedly done for at least 14 days for better effectiveness. Moxidectin, another avermectin, has also shown effectiveness against ear canker mites.

Eliminating the crust and scabs can be very painful to the animal and there is discussion as to whether or not this should be done. If treated precisely, the medications will support easy removal of the crust within a few days or it will start to fall off on its own within 10 to 14 days of treatment.

Because rabbit ear mites can last for up to three weeks off a host animal, it is essential to decontaminate hutches, cages, burrows, feeding sources, and other items in the infected animal’s habitat.

Physically eliminate all contaminated and potentially contaminated bedding. That’s because it is almost impossible to chemically disinfect the large surface area of bedding. And it doesn’t matter if you use paper, straw, hay, or wood chips.

It is best to just take it all out and replace it with fresh, clean bedding.

Leaving your pet’s environment free of all rabbits, or other animals, for 4–6 weeks will make sure that it becomes mite-free. Treat the hutches, cages, and bedding with an insecticide that is suited and harmless for the animal. Always read the description carefully before applying any insecticide chemical, as some insecticides are considered toxic to rabbits and cavies.

Some hutches, particularly those made of porous wood, can be challenging to clean. In these cases, it might be easier to just replace a hutch or cage. If the animal’s housing is near and accessible to wild animal groups, consider transferring or modifying it to prevent wild mite-carriers from coming into contact with your animals.

Nursing

During the treatment process, all bedding and food must be disposed of and provide fresh ones. Shredded paper bedding may be used since it is easy to destroy and replace each day.

Hutches, brushes, toys, food bowls, and drinkers should be sanitized daily and thoroughly washed. That way, the rabbit is not affected by the cleaning agent. Wash any blankets or fabric toys at 60 degrees. In this way, any mites or eggs will be eliminated, preventing re-infection.

Do this for a month, as rabbit mites tend to linger in environment for 21 days.

All close-contact rabbits should also be examined and treated because, as mentioned earlier, mites are very contagious.

After the treatment process ends, your rabbit should still be checked to ensure that there is no more sign of disease remaining. 

Treating the environment

Rabbit ear mites can survive for up to three weeks away from the host animal. Therefore, your rabbit’s habitat must be treated to avoid re-infection.

  • First, set up temporary enclosures for your rabbit, using a large box or crate and bedding that can be thrown away each day.
  • Remove and throw off any bedding in your rabbit’s environment.
  • An insecticide that is safe for rabbits can be applied to the hutch or cage. Make sure to read the label first or speak with your veterinarian just to be sure that what you are using is not harmful to your rabbit; in the case of wood hutches, replacement may be the best choice as it is difficult to clean and remove mites that are in the wood.
  • No rabbits should be in their habitat for 4 to 6 weeks to make sure that the mites are completely gone.

Medications

Medication is frequently topical, in the form of a spot-on. It eliminates mites but not eggs so it is necessary to kill the new larvae as they hatch. This means treating your pet bunny fortnightly for six weeks. 

The crusting discharge near the ear makes the skin very sore. However, you mustn’t try and take the crusts out yourself. This will create ulceration of the skin beneath and is very painful for your pet.

When the infection is managed, the crusts will dry out and fall off, enabling the skin beneath to heal slowly and without producing any discomfort. 

The rabbit may require oral or injectable antibiotics if there is still a secondary bacterial infection. If you think that there are eardrum ruptures, you can have your pet sedated and x-rayed to confirm.

Pain relievers in the form of anti-inflammatory medications may also help. In some cases, nails can be trimmed to reduce the trauma associated with scratching. 

Prevention

Check your pet rabbit’s ears frequently for any dry skin, scaling, or peeling. Be alert for any progress in scratching or head shaking. An early indication could be scratch marks and wounds around the ears.  

Watch your rabbit’s behavior, be aware of their normal activity levels, appetite, and temperament. That way, you can pick up shifts quickly. 

Examine any new rabbits thoroughly before introducing them to your existing herd. Keep their enclosure clean and collect your hay and bedding from a reliable source. Be very vigilant if they have any contact with wild rabbits. 

How to Stop Re-infection?

Mites can survive off the host and can exist within the environment for 21 days. If an ear mite infection is verified, full decontamination of the enclosure is required. Treatment of the rabbit should continue to cover a period exceeding 21 days. 

For example, the prescribed Ivermectin protocol is one treatment topically. Apply the correct size of Xeno® 450 Spot-on or Xeno® mini Spot-on for the weight of the animal every 14 days. Do the treatment at least three times.

Any new rabbits joining a group or household should have a careful clinical examination to ensure they are parasite-free.

Final Thoughts

As with any common ailment, prevention has always been the best medicine. Ear mites in rabbits occur and spread most quickly in overcrowded situations, so don’t try to house too many animals in one enclosure.

Another significant factor for ear mites seems to be stress. The animals get stressed out, and all of a sudden ear mite infections begin to pop up left and right.

Straw bedding tends to shelter mites, so shift to a different kind if that’s what you use. You can also pre-treat the animals with a mild mixture either once a week or whenever you do other necessary grooming, like nail trimming. A fusion of mineral oil with a few drops of apple cider vinegar, and a few drops of healing essential oil (e.g., tea tree oil) can surely stop mite infection.

More than anything, keep in mind that a mite infection is not comfortable for a rabbit to go through. Making sure it’s taken care of is an animal health and safety concern.

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do snakes eat rabbits

Do snakes eat rabbits?

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Are you confused about living your rabbits outdoor or indoors due to the danger from predators such as snakes?

I will explain why you shouldn’t keep your rabbits outdoors even if you think they are safe in a rabbit cage.

Likewise, there are many precautions you can take to save your rabbits from snakes.

  1. You can have a sturdy hutch to raise rabbits outdoors;
  2. Regularly cleaning your rabbit habitat will not attract predators;
  3. Place your rabbit cages far from plants and bushes where snakes may hide.

Now let’s discuss the main point of this article, do snakes eat rabbits?

Snakes are carnivorous predators, and rabbits are prey animals. Thus rabbits are in danger from snakes. Although not all snakes can eat rabbits, any snake over two feet long can eat rabbit kittens. Similarly, adult rabbits are under threat from snakes above six feet long.

How do snakes eat rabbits?

Snakes are carnivores that typically swallow their prey.

Unlike other predators, snakes cannot chew before swallowing. Snakes either kill their prey before eating, or sometimes they consume them alive.

Once a snake swallows a prey alive, the prey animal dies inside the snake’s body due to muscle contraction.

The same goes for rabbits and their kittens.

If snakes find rabbits outdoor in a cage that is not sturdy, the snake can easily break into the cage and kill a rabbit.

Especially domesticated rabbits are a specific target for snakes.

If your pet rabbits are outdoors inside a cage with big enough gaps for a snake to pass through, your rabbits are vulnerable to a snake’s attack.

Once a snake is inside a rabbit cage outdoors, there is no way the pet rabbit can run or save its life.

The snake will either kill the rabbit before eating or may swallow it right away.

However, it is very likely a tiny snake will go inside the cage to eat a rabbit.

If it’s a giant snake, it can easily break into a flimsy rabbit cage to kill pet rabbits.

A rabbit sleeping outdoors at night is really in danger from snakes. There are several ways to keep rabbits safe from snakes. However, it is also essential to understand the behavior of snakes to keep them away from your pet rabbits.

What kind of snakes eat rabbits?

Rabbit kittens are in danger from any snake that is over two feet long. Any snake that is over six feet long can easily swallow an adult rabbit.

Rabbits in the wild know several survival techniques: To run in zigzag motion while being chased by a predator.

Domesticated rabbits never learn such survival techniques. Therefore, if they ever see a snake and the snake’s aggression, your pet rabbit can die just from the shock of the sight.

Instead of thinking about what kind of snakes eat rabbits, you must emphasize creating a safe habitat for your rabbit where they will be happy and relaxed.

Yet, I want to mention that pet rabbits are vulnerable to all types of predators, and all snakes can harm them in one way or another.

Do snakes eat adult rabbits?

In the wild, adult rabbits are not an easy target for snakes. Yes, a snake can eat adult rabbits, but rabbits are not an easy target all the time.

Wild rabbits run very fast and are intelligent animals. They can quickly sense a predator in the vicinity. Once they feel danger, they can hide somewhere in a flash.

On the contrary, domesticated rabbits don’t have much survival instinct.

If your adult pet rabbits are outdoors, regardless of free-range or inside a cage, they are always in danger.

Giant snakes can easily break into a flimsy hutch, and your adult rabbits will have nowhere to run or hide. Thus any snake over six feet long can break into a cage of your pet rabbits, and they will eat adult rabbits.

How do you protect your pet rabbits from snakes?

To protect your pet rabbits, you must keep your rabbits indoors or someplace where snakes can’t reach.

If your rabbit cage is outdoors and snakes can easily reach the habitat, your rabbits are vulnerable.

Place your rabbit cage in a clean place.

Keep the surroundings of your rabbit cage clean. Mow the grasses and clean up any bush. Doing so will not allow snakes to hide near your rabbit cage.

If the surrounding is clean, you can notice if there is predator close to your rabbit cage.

It is common for predators to visit places where they can find food. As snakes are carnivores, they will try to stay close to the rabbit cage and wait for the right time.

Typically snakes will attack your rabbits at night.

But not having any place to hide will allow you to protect your pet rabbits.

The best thing you can do is keep rabbit cages in a place where no predators can reach. Such as inside the garage or your house, which not indoors yet safe.

Another thing you can do is keep your rabbit habitat clean. Don’t keep water or any leftover food in the rabbit hutch for an extended period.

That will also attract snakes and other predators to the rabbit cage when they are hungry.

Check rabbit habitat at least two times a day and clean it.

Lastly, the most important thing to do is buy a sturdy rabbit hutch.

Commercial sturdy hutches are not enough.

Once you buy a hutch, you can still add some extra layers of mesh nets to the hutch for extra safety.

I can’t mention enough that caged pet rabbits are more vulnerable to snake attacks than their wild counterparts.

Thus the best thing to do is to build a hutch that a snake can’t break-in.

Also, check for any holes in your pet rabbit’s cage and block it with anything.

Small snakes can quickly get inside the cage through holes.

Any gap that is bigger than half an inch must be blocked.

The same goes for the mesh nets of your rabbit cage. Use sturdy mesh nets with gaps less than a half-inch.

Anything more extensive than that prevents other predators from attacking, but a snake can comfortably get inside the rabbit cage.

There are stories of snakes getting inside a rabbit cage to eat rabbits through tiny holes.

However, once they got inside the cage and swallowed a rabbit, the snake couldn’t go out back through the small gap anymore.

Also, place your rabbit cage high from the ground. There should be at least three feet of ground clearance for the rabbit cage. That way, the rabbit cage will be out of reach from many predators, including snakes.

If you are willing to be a good rabbit guardian, taking such precautions will allow keeping your rabbits with you years after years.

Can snakes eat indoor rabbits?

Rabbits are vulnerable to snakes regardless of where you raise them.

If you raise rabbits indoors, there are likely to be safer than outdoors. Nevertheless, if in your area there are snakes or if you have a pet snake at your place, then your rabbits are in danger.

Pet rabbits and pet snakes cannot be friends.

Rabbits are prey animals, and snakes are predators. Therefore expecting them to stay in harmony indoors will be a mistake.

Even if you believe that your pet snake might not harm your pet rabbits, you must find one day that a rabbit is missing.

Likewise, if in your area you see snakes often, it is best to block all the gaps in your house through which snakes can get inside.

That way, your home will be safe for you and your rabbits.

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how to tell how old a rabbit is?

How to tell how old a rabbit is?

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Knowing the age of a house rabbit is not a difficult task for a professional.

Yet, for a house rabbit guardian, the task is generally unexplored.

Did you know a rabbit’s diet changes with its age?

As a rabbit grows up slight adjustment in their menu is required to keep bunnies in good shape.

A younger rabbit needs more protein in their diet, which is the opposite of older rabbits. Too much protein in an adult rabbit’s diet can be fatal.

Hence, knowing the age of a rabbit is often essential to make necessary changes.

You will have to tweak your rabbit’s diet and recognize when to visit the vet for neutering/spaying.

Thus let me explain in this post how to tell how old a rabbit is.

How to tell how old a rabbit is?

Not even a professional or an exotic pet vet can tell the precise age of a rabbit.

To find the precise age of a rabbit is impossible until the guardian can identify the exact date of birth of the rabbits.

Nevertheless, observing a few behavior changes can give you the idea of a rabbit’s estimated age.

In case a rabbit starts to leave its nest and return only to sleep, then you can say that your rabbits are 1-2 months old.

Once you see a rabbit has become very active and chewing on anything it finds, this rabbit has reached three months of age.

Between three months to six months old, your rabbits are crossing the adolescent phase.

I guess you can’t simply figure when your rabbit is between three months to six months old. One point is particularly noticeable at this stage.

During this time, the rabbit begins to become territorial and a guardian will see its rabbit spraying urine in various places.

An adolescent rabbit does this to mark its territory.

When my bunny was between two to three months old, I noticed my rabbit was growing in size.

Similar to the developing size, her tendency to spray urine in several corners of the house was becoming bothersome.

So indeed at that time, my bunny was somewhere between three to six months old.

However, it is difficult to recognize the age of any rabbit after it is six months old.

Assuming you own a pet rabbit and can perceive your rabbit is over six months old by seeing multiple characteristics of rabbits.

From six months of age until three years old these rabbits will be very lively.

Thus most active rabbits are over six months old. At this stage, bunny proofing your house is essential.

Once the rabbits are over three years old these rabbits begin to display less activeness.

If you adopt a rabbit at a very young age, I suppose you can certainly track your rabbit’s age.

Apart from their characteristics, you can check your rabbit’s teeth.

Rabbit’s teeth show signs of their age. Younger rabbits have whiter teeth. On the contrary, older rabbits have yellowish or brownish teeth.

Looking at a rabbit’s claw will give you signs of a rabbit’s age. Older rabbits have thicker, tougher and more flaky claws unlike smooth and fine claws of younger rabbits.

And the most common sign of age in older rabbits is they tend to sleep more than younger rabbits.

Rabbit age stages.

A new rabbit guardian doesn’t understand the importance of knowing a pet rabbit’s age. It is crucial to keep track of house rabbits’ age because as rabbits grow older, they begin to suffer from more health issues.

Rabbit guardians’ priority should be keeping their rabbit in good shape and lively forever.

How can you keep your rabbit in good health if you do not comprehend the essential changes in their diet according to the age?

To make the necessary changes in the diet, you have to catch the rabbit age stages first.

If you own a rabbit for some time now, you can compare your rabbit to the stages in its life.

Studying the stages in a rabbit’s life will enable you to use it as a guide in the future.

There is a very nice article in BunnyHugga, where it explains the rabbit age stages.

However, in this section, I have a summary from that article:

  • From zero to three months rabbits are still babies;
  • Three to six months of the span, rabbits are adolescence. During this period, changes in behavior are noticeable;
  • From six months to 1-year-old rabbits are maturing. At this age considering rabbits as teenagers is fine;
  • One to three years old: During this period, all rabbits are living through their adult life. This is the time when you will see your rabbits liveliest;
  • Three to five years old: Now, rabbits are not adults anymore. This is when rabbits start to become less active and sleep more often. They are now more like a middle-aged person.
  • Five to seven years old period is the late middle age for rabbits. At this stage, even very well cared rabbits are prone to diseases.
  • Seven to nine years old: Not many rabbits get to this stage due to poor care. However, this is the last phase of a rabbit’s life. At this age, rabbits indeed trust their guardians and the bonding is at its fullest. It is your duty as a rabbit guardian to do your best to take care of your pet rabbits in the last few years of its life.

What is the maximum age of a rabbit?

The maximum age of a rabbit varies from a wild rabbit and domestic rabbits.

Rabbits in the wild live only for two to three years. They have a pretty short lifespan compared to domestic rabbits. Reasoning rabbits are prey animals; I consider, wild rabbits are more vulnerable to danger from predators.

Similarly, there is no one to take care of wild rabbits. A wild rabbit may die from mere sickness before a vet can treat it.

On the other hand, house rabbits generally live between ten to twelve years.

Utmost time house rabbits are neutered/spayed. Being neutered and spayed prevents rabbits from several diseases. Though neutered/spayed rabbits can be sick, a rabbit guardian can promptly visit a veterinarian for correct treatment before it is too late.

So if you are adopting a rabbit then expect to have this rabbit at least for ten years by your side unless any unfortunate event occurs.

Domestic rabbits’ lifespan depends on their diet, right amount of exercise, and specific health issues.

The longest a house rabbit has lived is 18 years.

At what age is a rabbit considered old?

Rabbits in the will die before they pass the old age. By the time rabbits are two to three years, they meet their demise in the wild.

Nevertheless, a rabbit may live up to 12 years old and they become old by the age of 5 years.

Rabbits are considered to be geriatric from 5 years and onwards.

Thus that bunny of yours will not show much activity like before, once it crosses the three years age.

It is not easy to find out the age of a rabbit; the simplest way is by observing the rabbit’s behavior.

If your rabbit is becoming old it will show signs which you can read. An older rabbit is less active and prefers to sleep more often.

A 5 years old rabbit will have more gray hair, and changes in its fur coat.

Similarly, this rabbit will have changes in its nails. This older rabbit’s nails will become harder with age.

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