There are three types of mites that rabbits can be commonly infested with; Cheyletiella parasitivorax “Walking Dandruff”, Psoroptes cuniculi “ear mites” and Neotrombicula autumnalis “harvest mite”.
Cheyletiella is known as the “walking dandruff” due to the appearance of thick flaky skin, usually from the nape of the neck, down the spine and around the base of the tail.
Tufts of fur may come away easily, and in the most extreme cases the rabbit may start to self traumatise. The bite marks of these mites appear in clusters of three.
Contact your vet for appropriate medication to treat the mites and ensure that you conduct a deep clean of your rabbit’s environment, including removing all bedding and hay.
When rabbits become infested with ear mites the ear will weep a serum which dries to a brown crust, resulting from the ear mites irritating the ear canal.
Severe cases of ear mites can even destroy parts of the rabbit’s ear canal.
Any initial signs of ear mites may be noticed in excessive scratching of the ears and tilting of the head, when they are more advanced they can be seen with the naked eye and have a salt and pepper appearance.
Never attempt to pick off the crusts within the ears, as this will be extremely painful for the rabbit.
Ear mites are very contagious and can spread through contact, so it’s essential you check all your rabbits.
Secondary bacterial infections within the ear are not uncommon and can lead to Vestibular Disease (disease of the neurological system).
If your rabbits have ear mites seek veterinary assistance. Medical treatment will be required and any chance of secondary infections eliminated.
This mite is orange/ red in colour and will be visible to the naked eye. It is believed this mite occurs most with outdoor rabbits and is also found in hay and straw.
This mite irritates the skin and veterinary treatment will need to be sought to help clear the infestation.
It is important to remember that Myxomatosis and VHD is spread from rabbit to rabbit through blood sucking insects. So it’s important to be vigilant and ensure that you are aware of what mite infestations look like and take immediate action should you notice an infection.
All of the above mentioned mites are surface dwelling and are not burrowing mites. In fact burrowing mites are uncommonly found in rabbits.
If you have any concerns contact a rabbit savvy vet immediately.