Ear mites are tiny little parasites that feed on the inside of the rabbit’s ear, irritating the membrane and causing the ear to itch. Trying to stop the itching, the rabbit uses its hind legs to scratch in the ear, causing an infection. If the ear mites are caught and treated quickly, they will be easily eradicated. However, if the infestation is allowed to continue, the mites will continue down the ear canal and up out onto the face, which can eventually cause brain damage, wry neck, and scabbing of the face.
- Rabbit is repeatedly scratching at one or both ears.
- Scabs down inside the ear.
- Rabbit shaking ears trying to dislodge the mites.
- In particularly bad cases, scabs covering face and twisting of the neck are likely.
Treatment consists of applying 2-3 drops of lukewarm oil (mineral, coconut, or olive oil) into the inside of the ear on the scabs (or if it has spread onto the face, apply the oil there as well), then massaging the base of the ear to allow the oil to settle and coat the scabs. Apply the oil in with a 3-3-3 treatment plan: first three days in row, then three times every other day, then lastly once for three weeks. The first three days are to drown all the adult mites, then the next set of treatment is to drown any mites hatched from eggs as the eggs can last for three weeks. If the scabs are bad, use a cotton ball or Q-tip to coat with oil and if possible, gently use to remove any loose scabs. **If an infection has set in, use an antibiotic cream in the ear.
To prevent further ear mite infestation, give your herd a monthly treatment of oil in the ear and keep a vigilant watch for scabbing and scratching.
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