Or if you want to sound more scientific – Ms. Glee is infested with Cheyletiella parasitovorax.. It started with her losing some fur on her shoulders. That began growing back, when she lost some fur in another area. And then when I clipped her nails, she scratched the heck out of herself. A trip to the vet was in order.
What are fur mites?
Fur mites are an ectoparasite which means these little critters are found on the outside of the body. Along with rabbits, they also affect dogs, cats, guinea pigs and even humans (though they don’t reproduce on humans).
What are the symptoms of having fur mites?
Hair loss was what I first noticed on Glee. She also began scratching her back and her head. Dandruff is another sign and why another name for fur mites is walking dandruff. Glee didn’t have much dandruff or I might have caught it earlier.
Where did Glee get fur mites from?
I’m still not sure. In researching I’ve found a few ways rabbits can get them.
One way is from coming in contact with another animal that has them (isn’t sharing nice?). Ms. Glee hasn’t met any new bunny friends and she doesn’t hang out with my dogs or cats (luckily none of them are showing any signs of having them). I also haven’t handled any bunnies or other animals lately to have brought them home to her.
Another way is from bedding or the environment. Female mites can live for a few days off the rabbit so could be picked up by a passing critter. Ms. Glee’s been living in the same room for the last 4 years so I ruled out her room. The only bedding I use is paper pellets in her litter boxes, but that is packaged up and shipped to the store so I think that process would be too long for any mites to survive.
I also read that it is felt some rabbits just have the mite, but don’t show any symptoms until their immune system is affected by stress or disease (like demodex mites in dogs). Ms. Glee’s life is pretty easygoing and she hasn’t shown symptoms of any other illness, but perhaps I was late 1 too many times with her evening meal of greens.
How are fur mites diagnosed?
Along with taking all the symptoms of fur mites into consideration, your vet will also try to find the mite in some of the debris from their fur. They may collect some by using a flea comb or sticking clear tape to the skin in hopes of catching a few mites. In Glee’s case, my vet did a skin scraping. And jackpot, he was able to find one of the critters by looking through the microscope.
Mites can be tricky little things and it’s possible a mite won’t be seen. Your vet may decide to go ahead with treatment just based on the skin symptoms.
How are fur mites treated?
Rabbits are very sensitive to chemicals. Some products that might work on mites and be okay for other pets can kill your rabbit so it’s important to have your bunny seen by a vet and treatment discussed before applying anything to them.
Glee is receiving invermectin injections- 1 injection every 2 weeks for a total of 3 injections. The invermectin kills the adult mites. Since it doesn’t do anything to the eggs it needs to be given at 2 week intervals to kill any mites that hatch out.
Revolution is also used as a treatment for fur mites. A vet will need to determine a dosage based on weight and treatment schedule.
Because Glee has free run of my spare bedroom I washed her blankets and sprayed the floor with flea spray (giving it a chance to dry while we were at the vet) to help with any mites that might have gotten into the environment.
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Glee’s fur is almost all grown back and her scratches are gone. She goes for her last injection on Friday. It will be nice to get back into the Diva Bunny’s good graces again.
For more information on fur mites, please visit: