As many of our rescue friends are having new rabbits come to them, the rabbits will often have ear mites. Sometimes these cases are very bad, to the point they don't know if the rabbit will make it. What is going on when this happens and what does it look like? What should we look for? Will my rabbit get this?
Rabbits kept outside are likely to come in contact with ear mites. Ear mites are not likely to be serious, but left untreated, they can lead to infection and deafness.
Here is the rabbit mite...Yuck! Can I say, NO LOVE!
Microscopic view of the crust taken from an ear infested by ear mite. The eggs and adult mites can be clearly distinguished.
The ear mite is a parasite, known under the name of Psoroptes cuniculi. they are a member of the arachnid family, which includes spiders and scorpions! (At least for me, again YUCK!) The average life span of an ear mite is 21 days.
Symptoms and clinical signs
Itching ears, frequent shaking of the head, and scratching up to the stage of auto-mutilation. In the beginning, small, tightly adherent skin scales appear deep in the ear canal and the earlobes and are surrounded by alopecic (balding) regions. Those yellow-gray scales can become rather thick. They carry large numbers of the parasite, mite feces, skin cells, and blood.
If no treatment is started at this stage, the scales will grow into crust and may reach a thickness of 2 cm in extreme cases. The ear is no longer able to stand up, and droops. The scales/crust should not be removed; if removed, they leave bloody eroded skin. The crust will fall off within 10 days after the first administration of oral or injected ivermectin. Earlier removal is also very painful, and may lead to screaming.
Treatment (See an exotic vet! Bunny will likely need something for pain.)
The scales/crust should never be removed !!!
Removing them is horribly painful to the rabbit, leading to screaming (see video).
Ear mites are effectively eliminated by avermectins:
• Ivermectin: 400 mg/kg, PO (oral) or SC (subcutaneous injection), 3 times at intervals of 14 days (life cycle of Psoroptes cuniculi is 21 days); 200 mg/kg has been found ineffective.
• Selamectin: Revolution® (US) or Stronghold® (Europe) - Pfizer, 6-18 mg/kg. A single topical (local) dose should be sufficient; if not, repeat after 30 days. If the affected rabbit presents severe anemia, a transfusion of blood can be attempted from a healthy donor rabbit.
• Moxidectin (Quest® or Equest® - Fort Dodge). Secondary effects have not been observed when the medication was administered orally, on the contrary to subcutaneous administration.
These avermectin compounds are non-ovicidal (will not kill the eggs), but the drug remains in the tissue long enough to kill the larvae that emerge from the eggs. Ivermectin diluted in mineral oil, applied directly on the ear, is less effective than injected or oral ivermectin.
Very good video: WARNING TO SENSITIVE VIEWERS: Bunny shown has very bad ear mites and is in vet office, does make scream, but is treated very well. Do not be shocked. Bunny heals wonderfully at end and is beautiful. INFORMATION IS A REALLY GOOD.
This bunny came into Red Barn Rescue in Oregon in February this year. The transformation in Nutmeg so far is amazing. She is an inspiration to us all.
Complete MediRabbit info found at: