Sun 6th Apr 2014

Calling All Easter Bunnies

If like me you have young children, then any mention of rabbits at Easter time means just one thing…CHOCOLATE! In fact chocolate bunnies have recently become the bribe of choice to get our children to co-operate during the supermarket shop! At Estcourt Vets it has to be said chocolate is also quite high on the list of priorities most days but if you are talking about rabbits, then at the moment there’s two things that we’re talking about: Rabbit Awareness week (12th-16th May) and more ominously the approaching fly strike season! (warning, this may put you off your chocolate!)

Every year between 1st May and 1st October the number of rabbits seen at the vets increases dramatically due to fly strike. As flies emerge with warmer weather, they are attracted to the soiling that can accumulate around the back end of rabbits. The flies then lay eggs which develop into maggots which go on to eat away the surrounding body tissue, releasing toxins in the process. A rabbit can succumb to this invasion with horrific speed and the end result is gruesome, painful and life threatening. Most people are of course shocked and upset that it should happen to their rabbit, but no one should think their pet is immune, not even those with ‘house’ rabbits! Unfortunately, fly strike happens very quickly, and if we are honest about it, rabbits often aren’t examined as frequently as some other household pets, and they tend not to outwardly vocalise or show pain in a way which makes it obvious to owners that there is a problem. Overweight rabbits and those with bad teeth are most at risk from fly strike and both these issues are commonly linked to poor diet. The diets that are frequently fed to rabbits are often misguided (carrots for example!) and even those muesli style rabbit foods sold commercially and brought in good faith can actually do our pet rabbits harm. At Estcourt Vets as well as offering rabbit health and dietary advice, our fly strike ‘prevention is  better than cure’ policy includes the application of a product called ‘Rearguard’ to help prevent flies from actually laying eggs on your rabbit in the first place! The Rearguard should be applied at the beginning of May and then again 10 weeks later so as to provide protection throughout fly strike season. Rearguard is not expensive and is sold at the practice, our kind nurses are happy to apply it for you free of charge to help you out as much as possible.

If you or a friend have a rabbit then please come and see us during Rabbit Awareness Week, where we are holding free rabbit health checks between the 12th and 16th May, not only can you have your first Rearguard applied should you wish,  but you can also pick up some important tips and information packs on rabbit health and welfare all completely free of charge. Hopefully it will go a long way to ensuring that your rabbit is less at risk of fly strike this year!

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