Itching and scratching, which is also known as pruritus in rabbits is a sign of illness that needs immediate attention. Severe itching could be due to parasites on the skin, in the ear, or fur. Dry skin coats, infections, or allergies can also cause pruritus in rabbits.
Parasitic causes of pruritus in rabbits
Fur Mites: Mites are microscopic organisms that live in the hair of rabbits. They are blood-sucking parasites that cause severe itching when they bite your rabbit. They are called walking dandruff and can easily spread to other rabbits and pets.
Ear mites: In addition to severe itching, ear mites also cause head shaking, flopped ear, or head tilt. It may present as hair loss or scabs around the ear.
Lice: Lice infestation in rabbits is species-specific, thus, it can’t be transmitted from an infected rabbit to humans or other pets. They cause itching by biting and feeding on the rabbit’s coat.
Fleas: They are also blood-sucking parasites that cause itching when they feed on the rabbit.
Other causes of pruritus
Allergies: Rabbits do have allergies like other pets and humans presenting with severe itching and scratching. Most allergies in rabbits are environmental-based and rarely food-based. Parasites can also cause an allergic reaction for your rabbit.
Dry skin Coat: Poor diets, dusty environments, bathing your rabbit too often, putting your rabbit in a room with low humidity, and inappropriate shampoos can cause dry skin in rabbits which would lead to pruritus.
How to prevent pruritus in rabbits
- Regular Ecto-parasites (Lice, Flea, and Mites) control.
- Avoid or remove the source of allergy from the environment.
- Use appropriate and recommended shampoos.
- Don’t bathe your rabbit too often.
- Contact your veterinarian if pruritus is present and it persists.