Friday, July 14, 2006

Mites & Fleas

If your rabbit has dandruff-like flaky skin, this could indicate mites

Rabbits can have a number of external parasites that can cause discomfort, hair loss and often disease. You should regularly check your rabbit’s coat to make sure there are no signs of mites or fleas and it is recommended that all outside rabbits are regularly treated for fleas as they can carry disease.

Hair loss, although often a sign of mites or flea infestation, can sometimes be due to over grooming caused by hormonal imbalances, especially in entire females. So if your doe is not responding to treatment for fleas or mites please have her checked out by a rabbit savvy veterinarian as it might be due to uterine cancer or ovarian cysts.

There are two types of fleas seen in rabbits. The common flea (Ctenocephalides canis or C. felis) is often seen on rabbits and if your rabbit lives closely with a feline or canine companion then they are very likely to get fleas occasionally. Fleas can cause skin irritation and over grooming and can predispose the skin to bacterial infections once the skin’s protective barrier is damaged with scratching and biting.

Rabbits can also get the Spanish Flea (Xenopsylla cunicularis smit). This is a flea that is specific to rabbits. It was released into Australia in 1993 to try and aid the spread of Myxomatosis in the wild rabbit population. This is a very real threat to our outside rabbits and I would strongly recommend regular monthly flea treatments to help prevent infection.

Ear mites
Psoroptes cuniculli are a small microscopic mite that lives in the ears of rabbits. Because rabbits have very long narrow ear canals it can often be difficult to see these creatures even though they are visible to the naked eye. These mites cause severe irritation and large numbers of crusty painful scabs that can be seen in the ear. Your vet can find these mites by examining the wax and crusting from the ear under the microscope. The damage that is caused in the ear of rabbits with an infection of Psoroptes cuniculli can predispose them to ear infection that can extend into the inner ear. Ear mites are treated with ivomec injections by your vet. Alternatively, monthly Revolution, a spot-on active against fleas and mites, has also been used to control ear mite infections.

Rabbit lice (Haemodipsus ventricosus) are rarely found on domestic rabbits, but can be occasionally found in their wild counterparts. They are quite large and at 1.5 – 2 mm in length are easily seen with the naked eye.

Cheyleteilla parasitovorax is commonly called walking dandruff, as the mites themselves can be visible to the naked eye. They live on the surface of the skin around the hair shaft and cause damage to the shaft. Hair loss, especially on the tail base can be a sign that you rabbit has mites. Cheyleteilla is a common condition in rabbits and is often brought into the home on hay and straw. If you are concerned that your rabbit might have mites then see your veterinarian as they will be able to check the presence of these tiny insects under the microscope. Treatment is often straightforward with an application of Revolution.
Burrowing mites that live in the hair follicles rather than the hair shaft can occasionally be found on rabbits. They are not very common and their presence can be diagnosed with a deep skin scraping or more often with a skin biopsy.

Unfortunately there are no treatments that are registered for use in rabbits, although there are a few products that have been used extensively and are known to be safe.

Revolution is a monthly flea treatment for cats and dogs and is helpful in treating fleas, mites and ear mites in rabbits. It should not be used in kits younger then 12 weeks. Please see your veterinarian for the correct dose.

Advantage is also safe for use in rabbits; again see your veterinarian for the correct dose. Be careful not to use in kits under 12 weeks of age. Advantage is only effective against fleas.

DO NOT use Frontline on rabbits, as it has been known to cause fatal seizures, even 5-7 days after application.

Other flea products such as washes, powders and collars should not be used in rabbits as some can cause severe illness and death. If in any doubt at all, do not use it until you have talked to a veterinarian.

Article written by Dr Narelle Walter, BVSc, MRCVS Hallam Veterinary Clinic, 55 Belgrave-Hallam Road, Hallam, Vic, 3803 Ph: (03) 9703 1776

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Previous Bunologist issues

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Saturday, July 01, 2006

Alex & Rose

Alex is a teenager with a gorgeous lop eared bunny called Rose. Rose is a two year old house bunny and lives the life of luxury with Alex & his family in Moonee Ponds.

BOING: How did you choose a rabbit to be a member of your family?
Alex: My mum had always loved rabbits and my brother Luke had been asking for one for over a year so we decided to get one.

What kind of pets have you had before?
We had a pet dog called Tasha. She was a whippet and 14 when she died. Our family loved her very much.

How did Rose end up living inside your home?
It was Autumn and it was starting to get cold outside. Rose came down with a bug (the snuffles) from the pet shop and the vet said he would not survive outside. We trained him to use the litter tray. After winter, mum didn't see why Rose had to go outside because he had become fully litter-trained. Rose had also got used to living indoors and was well behaved. He also liked cuddling on the lounge at night!

Do any of your friends have rabbits? Do their bunnies live inside?
None of my friends have rabbits as pets but my sister, Louise, has a friend who has one. It lives outside in a fly-proof cubby house. For what I know the rabbit gets no attention and is just left outside. Having your rabbit live inside with you will develop a bond with him/her. But if you have it outside you will not develop any bond and the rabbit will most likely be forgotten.

Alex, you suffer from allergies & asthma at times. Does Rose's fur or dander cause you any problems?
Rose does cause me problems but I try to keep it under control with 'Claratyne' which is an antihistamine.

Do you have any advice for other people that might be allergic to their rabbit?
You have to remember to wash your hands regularly and not get your rabbit too close to your face. This is difficult for me as Rose is so cute and cuddly.

I take it that Rose was thought to be a girl when he was little. How & when did you find out he was a boy?
Strangely, Rose was following around the girls of the family and chewing on their pyjama and tracksuit pants! When we were cuddling him one day his 'bits and bobs' had appeared! It was a great surprise as we were guaranteed by three of the pet shop owners that he was a girl. He now has a very boyish face. It took a lot of getting used to calling Rose 'he and him' instead of 'her and she'.

Rose was recently neutered. What made your family decide on this?
Rose was starting to spray. He was continually biting the bottom of pants and he was also biting mum's and Louise's ankles. Basically, he just never seemed to be able to relax!

Has his personality changed at all since his operation?
Rose has changed so much. He is a lot more cuddly and less aggressive. He has stopped spraying and being as boisterous as he was. He seems a lot more relaxed and has stopped his biting of ankles.

I know Rosie very well & know he is one hilarious bunny! What's something that Rosie has done that's made you laugh out loud?
Rose is always making us laugh with his antics! He always likes to be in the middle of whatever is going on. In the morning rush hour when we are all getting ready for work and school he likes to be in the centre of the action, even if it means being in the middle of the kitchen during the morning rush hour!! We just step around him.

He will follow us up and down the stairs. He likes to know where everybody is!

Before he was desexed he would chase a plastic bag around the house for ages. Also before he was desexed, he would get angry with dad when he was put in the laundry at night. He didn’t care how much smaller he was, he would still lunge at dad! We couldn't stop laughing at this little fellow attacking dad.

When mum was digging holes for some plants, he got all excited and was in there digging as well.
Thank you for this interview Alex. As a teenager living at home with your family, do you have one last piece of advice for other families thinking of adding a rabbit as a pet?
If you are thinking of getting a rabbit, please do not just put it in a hutch in the backyard and forget about it. Make it a member of your family and keep it inside. They can be toilet trained! You will be surprised what great indoor pets they make.