During the warmer months, pet rabbits can be affected by maggot infestation. This is a life-threatening condition that can develop very rapidly and often go unnoticed until it is too late.
Flies are attracted to fur that is soiled by urine or faeces, or to skin that is infected. Here flies will choose to lay their eggs; these eggs will quickly hatch as maggots and the maggots will feed on the rabbit's flesh. Fly strike often occurs at the rabbit's rear end as this can be a difficult area for a rabbit to groom, especially if the rabbit is elderly or overweight.
Rabbits with fly strike should be taken to a vet straight away. The affected area needs to be clipped and cleaned and all maggots removed. Rabbits will often require supportive treatment, antibiotics and anti-inflammatories to help them recover.
In the summer months rabbits should be checked at least twice a day to ensure they are clean and dry and that no maggots are present. Their bedding and hutches should be cleaned out regularly to prevent attracting flies. If your rabbit is elderly, overweight or prone to faecal soiling then speak to your vet about treatments that are available to help prevent fly strike.