Fly strike prevention and treatment in rabbits

With Spring upon us we’ll be soon entering the risk period for fly strike or myiasis (from 1st May to 1st October).

All veterinary surgeons are familiar with this particularly unpleasant condition, however, will frequently come across rabbit owners who try to assure them that prevention is not necessary – because their rabbit/s “live indoors”, or they are fastidious about hygiene and would surely know and treat any issue quickly enough!

The reality is that even an animal as large as a sheep can succumb to myiasis within 24 hours of maggots being laid.

Therefore treating after the event will rarely be good enough and even if the rabbit survives, it will certainly suffer.


The Animal Welfare Act 2006, makes it quite clear that not only is every animal owner or keeper obliged to prevent unnecessary suffering or cruelty, but that they are also obliged to provide “good practice” in respect of husbandry.

Whilst “good practice for rabbit husbandry” is not defined in law, fly strike prevention should be an essential recommendation and there are a number of products available for this.

As an exotic service we use “Rear Guard”, as one application lasts for 10 weeks (so long as the rabbit is not washed in the interim) – one application should be made on 1st May and then repeated mid-July, this will then last the risk season through. If, as is relevant in some rabbits, regular washing is necessary due to genital soiling, then an alternative product should be used that requires weekly applications (after washing). In such cases we use “F10 Insecticidal Spray”.

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As far as treatment is concerned, these cases are extremely toxaemic and typically critical. We advocate standard support care, comprising:

  • fluid therapy (shock levels of 100ml/ kg/ hr in the first hour)
  • analgesia (buprenorphine)
  • anti-inflammatory  (meloxicam)
  • covering antibiosis and pro-kinetics (e.g. ranitidine – to address the inevitable concurrent stasis)
  • force feeding with a suitable critical care product (Oxbow, or if not well received then Lafeber Emeraid Herbivore)
  • a suitable parasiticide

The only product licensed for use in the control of myiasis is “F10 Insecticidal Spray” (available from standard wholesalers) as mentioned previously.