Fleas are small insects that use animals as their hosts. A Flea is a parasite. Parasites live in or on other organisms and depend on them for their survival.
Fleas, also known as Spilopsylluscuniculi or rabbit flea, is a species of insect that belongs to the family of Pulicidae. The flea lives on rabbits as an external parasite.
When rabbits have fleas, these insects are almost always contracted by other animals. Dogs and cats or other rabbits that already have a flea problem are responsible.
The most favorable temperature for the insects to overgrow is around 70 degrees Fahrenheit to 85 degrees Fahrenheit or 21 degrees Celsius to 30 degrees Celsius.
The flea can be found on the rabbit all over his body, but usually, it resides around the ears.
It is located in clusters around the ears. Fleas can be treated and prevented if you take care of your rabbit.
If your rabbit gets fleas, you can get rid of them by either using a topical medication, a flea comb, or applying a spray, powder, or dip.
These are the methods that can be used to get rid of fleas in rabbits.
Symptoms that Your Rabbit Has Fleas
The common symptoms that will help you detect insects in your rabbit are:
Nibbling or biting on the skin (Excessive Grooming)
If you see your rabbit nibbling or biting on parts of his body, it can indicate that he has fleas.
The rabbit may also have itchiness, and not just rabbit; you may also be itching because of fleas.
Rabbits love to groom. But a panicked and frantic grooming session with a biting and not licking of their fur can indicate a flea problem.
Bald Patches (Hair loss/Scaling)
If you notice bald patches where your rabbit has lost fur, it is often a sign of fleas or worms.
Skin scaling and hair loss on the rabbit can also be an excellent sign to detect fleas.
Flea Eggs and Dirt
Flea eggs are white socks, and flea dirt is reddish-brown specks on rabbit fur.
The wet paper test can be an excellent test to see if it is the soil on the hair or flea dirt.
Get a damp paper towel or wet cotton wool and wipe the specks. If the area turns reddish-brown around the flea, then you are dealing with an insect in your rabbit.
Presence of Live fleas
it is not easier to spot an insect because they are fast, but if you part your rabbit’s fur or stroke them backward, you might see live fleas on the hair of your rabbit.
Around the neck is an excellent place to check for fleas.
Salt and Pepper Fur
Flea droppings usually show in rabbit fur like little black dots that can give the rabbit a salt-and-pepper appearance.
If your rabbit suddenly has little black dots on them, it indicates fleas.
Should your rabbit already have a salt and pepper fur kind, you may struggle to see the flea droppings, and you will then have to rely on touch.
Flea droppings are rough to the touch and will stand out in your rabbit’s smooth fur.
Weak Rabbits (Anaemia)
A rabbit that suddenly weakens and seems listless may have anemia.
The blood loss that rabbits suffer due to a large flea burden is a clear sign that something is wrong. It can also indicate the start of myxomatosis.
Your rabbit will turn pale and weak.
Also read: Do You Know about the Hairless Rabbit?
When Should Flea Treatment be Applied to Rabbits?
All animals should be treated for fleas the year around; this includes the animals that you have kept in the house, including rabbits, as well.
In this way, the rabbits will not be invaded by fleas because they will be getting treatment regularly.
The time that is taken to get rid of fleas depends on the time that your house gets invaded by insects.
During the warmer season, it is a faster process because the pupae and eggs hatch in much lesser time as insects overgrow during the warmer season.
During the colder season, it takes more time than in warmer seasons.
If the rabbit has fleas, then they can be treated by using the methods that are explained under treatment to get rid of fleas.
Treatments to Get Rid of Fleas in Rabbits
It is common to have fleas in rabbits.
If this is the case, you can use these treatments to get rid of fleas in your rabbit.
The necessary therapies are:
- Using a topical medication – topical medication can be used to treat fleas in rabbits. Typically, these medications are for dogs and cats, but after consulting a vet, it can be used on rabbits as well. The conventional topical medicines that can be used are Program, Advantage, and Revolution. These medications should be applied at the back of the rabbit’s neck so that they cannot lick it off. A vet should be consulted before using these medications.
- Using a flea comb – flea comb can also be used to get rid of fleas. A flea comb is a specially designed grooming tool for this purpose. You can comb your rabbit’s fur to take the insects off him. After searching, the comb should be kept in warm water with soap or alcohol before using it again.
- Applying spray, powder or dip – a flea spray or powder can be used to get rid of fleas, as well. The vet or the groomer can tell you the ones that are safe for your rabbit. Only the sprays or powders that are safe should be used. Some vets may ask you not to use these because rabbits do not like baths.
Treating Fleas in the Environment
The environment in which the rabbit is the rabbit lives also should be addressed to prevent the rabbit from getting fleas.
This includes an outdoor and indoor environment.
- Indoor treatment – the house should also be treated to save the rabbit from getting fleas. The carpets and the bedding should be washed and dried in the dryer heat to kill the pest if they are hidden in them. The entire house, including the carpets and floors, should e vacuumed. The bag of the vacuum cleaner should also be cleaned properly. Some products are available that can help with killing the fleas. An effective product is the one that contains an ingredient for killing adult flea and any other stage of the life cycle.
- Outdoor treatment – sprays and pelleted insecticides are used for outdoor control of fleas. A regulator for insect growth can also be the right choice. Pyriproxifen is more suitable for outdoors as it lasts in the sunlight. One of the best non-toxic options, which is safe for vegetation and children’s play area is Diatomaceous.
Can Rabbits Die from Fleas?
It is not very common for rabbits to die from fleas. However, a condition known as Anaemia can occur, which may eventually lead to the death of the rabbit.
A rabbit may suffer from Anaemia if it has a massive flea infestation.
The fleas keep on taking the blood from the rabbit’s body, and it causes a lot of blood loss from the rabbit’s body.
This makes the rabbit weak and his gums pale. In severe cases, this leads to the death of the rabbit.
Another disease that can be transferred from fleas is known as myxomatosis. This disease is fatal.
It is also viral and highly contagious. The rabbits can be vaccinated against myxomatosis. Only vaccination against myxomatosis can save the rabbit’s life.
If a Rabbit has Fleas, Should Other Animals be Treated as Well?
If your rabbit has fleas, there is an excellent chance that other animals in your house have fleas as well.
Fleas can fly and jump from one animal to the other.
They will live on any animals that they can feed on. Check your dogs and cats to see if they have fleas.
If they have fleas, get them treated for fleas as well. Not just animals, they can even bite humans but will not live on humans.
Watch around your entire house to see if there are fleas and get rid of them wherever you find them.
Dogs and cats with fleas can also give rabbit fleas.
The rabbit can even get fleas by visiting a yard or home with fleas or the vet’s office where there are other animals present that has fleas.
Sources of Fleas for Rabbits
There are several ways in which your rabbit can catch a case of fleas. Knowing where your rabbit can contract a flea infestation can help you keep your rabbit safe.
Wild rabbits and other rabbits can easily cause the spread of fleas. If your rabbit run or hutch is too close to a local wooded area, you may find wild rabbits socializing through the fence.
Proximity can lead to the spread of fleas.
Cats and dogs can carry fleas to your rabbit. It’s unusual for rabbits to directly play with other furry pets.
Yet, they can catch fleas from your cat or dog in other ways.
Your rabbit may hop over your dog’s blanket or bed, where fleas gather or flea eggs become lodged in their feet.
If your other pets have fleas, then your home’s carpets and furniture become an infection zone.
Even birds can carry fleas that may start to infest your rabbits.
If you have taken over a chicken coup or a bird aviary for your rabbit, then you should thoroughly sanitize and treat the whole area.
Should your rabbit share their cage with a pet chicken or other type of poultry, you should take care to check the birds carefully for fleas.
Treating birds and other pets for fleas is easier than treating your rabbit.
Often, rabbit owners are devastated when their rabbit catches fleas and dies in a new home.
The cause of their rabbit’s death is frequently a sudden occurrence of fleas.
These fleas are dormant in the new house’s carpets and floorboards, and when the rabbit explores the new house, these fleas, and eggs attached to the rabbit’s paws.
Wild Rabbits and Fleas
Spilopsylluscuniculi, the rabbit flea, is found on domesticated rabbits as well as wild rabbits.
Just like pet rabbits, wild rabbits can also have fleas. The lifecycle of wild rabbit and rabbit fleas is in synchronization.
After the birth of the newborn rabbit, the eggs are laid inside the nest. The humidity for the development is already present in the nest.
They feed on adult flea feces for survival.
Fleas are parasites that live on animals and depend on them for their survival.
Spilopsylluscuniculi, known as the rabbit flea, is found in rabbits.
If a rabbit has an infestation of fleas on it, it can be treated by topical medication, by using a flea comb, or by using sprays or powder.
These treatment options can help you get rid of fleas on your rabbit.
Fleas can fly or jump from one animal to the other, so if their other animals living in the house, they can also have fleas on them.
The common signs to detect fleas on the rabbit include nobbling and biting on the skin by the rabbit, looking for flea eggs or dirt, looking for live fleas, hair loss or scaling, and Anaemia.
To prevent your animals from getting fleas, outdoor and indoor environments should be treated.
The house should be appropriately cleaned, and sprays and medicines should be used for the outdoor environment to avoid insects.
Anemia is a disease that a rabbit can suffer from as a result of fleas on him.
Another condition that is fatal and contagious and can be transferred from insects is known as myxomatosis.
The New Rabbit and Fleas
Getting a new rabbit that you are going to introduce to your other rabbits also carries the risk that the new rabbit may be a flea carrier.
Be sure to isolate the new rabbit until you are sure they are clear of pests.
While you would in any case introduce two rabbits by placing two cages near each other, this is sufficient proximity for fleas to jump across and infect your current rabbits. Instead, keep the new rabbit apart for at least a week.
The isolation will give you a chance to notice any scratching behavior or signs of lethargy related to blood loss caused by fleas. Better to treat one new rabbit than all your rabbits.
Rabbit Fleas FAQs
How do I get rid of fleas on my rabbit?
A topical solution to kill off the fleas and drown eggs can be an effective way to remove flea eggs.
Combing your rabbit’s fur with a comb soaked in alcohol can also kill off flea parasites.
What natural cure for fleas is there for rabbits?
By adding one tablespoon of apple cider vinegar to your rabbit’s drinking water, you can help them fight off fleas from the inside out.
Spraying your rabbit with water and vinegar can also help repel fleas.
Can my rabbit’s food source be contaminated with fleas? Can rabbits get fleas from hays?
Rabbits need loads of fresh hay. Yet hay can also be the means of the flea infestation that will affect your rabbit.
Hay is a known insect carrier. Your rabbit may become infested with fleas after you buy a bad batch of hay.
How do you treat rabbit flea infestations with vet medicines?
Revolution topical flea application is safe for rabbits to use, and it will quickly sort out any flea infestations your rabbit may be struggling with.
Give your rabbit a good place to roll and add diatomaceous earth to their sand bath to help give your rabbit a natural way to eliminate flea problems.
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