Mange is a skin condition caused by mites that affects many animals, including rabbits. In rabbits, mange (also called mite dermatitis) is most commonly caused by the Cheyletiella parasitovorax mite. Mange can range from a mild irritation to a life-threatening disease if left untreated. Here's what rabbit owners need to know about mange.
Symptoms of Mange
The most common sign of mange in rabbits is intense itchiness, redness, and irritation of the skin. Rabbits may scratch themselves raw in an attempt to relieve the itchiness. You may see dandruff, scaly skin patches, and hair loss concentrated on the back, neck, ears, or feet. Crusty skin lesions can develop. Weight loss may occur if the condition worsens.
Transmission of Mites
Mites spread through direct contact between rabbits or contact with contaminated hutches, bedding, grooming tools, etc. Mange mites cannot survive long without a host. Rabbit-to-human transmission is very rare. But mange can quickly spread among a multi-rabbit household.
Seriousness of Mange
For mild cases caught early, mange is very treatable. But left unchecked, the incessant scratching can cause skin damage, secondary infections, weight loss, and decline of health. Severe mange can progress to hyperkeratosis - a thickening of the skin that restricts movement. Advanced mange can be fatal if the rabbit's condition deteriorates.
Veterinarians often prescribe injectable or topical antiparasitic medications to kill the mites. Treatment may need to continue for a few weeks. Anti-itch medications can provide relief while healing. Be diligent about cleaning and disinfecting the environment to prevent reinfection. Schedule follow-ups to ensure the mites have been fully eliminated.
To protect your rabbits from mange, adopt good biosecurity measures. Quarantine and treat any new rabbits before introducing them. Disinfect hutches between residents. Avoid exposure at rabbit shows or fairs. Check rabbits weekly for any skin irritations. Treating mange at the first signs prevents more severe infestation.
Disclaimer: We are not professional veterinarians or medical doctors. We created this blog based on our experiences with pet rabbits, volunteered hours in the rabbit shelter, extensive pet product research, and experienced peers. The purpose of this blog is to provide information about properly taking care of rabbits. Please know that it is still best to visit the vet regularly. For medical emergencies, contact a rabbit-savvy vet. Always observe your rabbits around new products or environmental changes.
Mange is highly contagious among rabbits and requires swift veterinary treatment. Left unaddressed, it can pose serious health risks. But with proper care and medication, rabbits generally recover well. Be vigilant for skin irritations and take your rabbit to the vet at the earliest signs of mange. Together we can keep our rabbits happy and healthy.
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