A pesky parasite, ear mites are unfortunately very common and will pop up in even the best-managed rabbitries. They may be easily brought into the rabbitry from rabbit shows or even in hay. Thankfully, they are also easily and inexpensively eradicated. 

Ear Mite Life Cycle: 

To fully understand how to eliminate ear mites, knowing the basics of the life cycle is a tool of inestimable help. First off, the mites lay their eggs in the excess ear wax or dead skin in the rabbits ear. The eggs hatch after four days into a larvae. After another four days, the larvae then undergoes a molt to become a protonymph. The mite stays in the protonymph stage for 3-10 more days before becoming an adult mite capable of laying more eggs. 

Symptoms of Ear Mite Infestation: 

  • Crusty buildup of dead skin and mite excrement in the ear canal. In severe cases, the mites may spread outside of the ear. 
  • Rabbit may repeatedly shake and scratch their ears. 
  • Scabs in ear caused by the rabbit’s repeated scratching. 

Treatment: 

Ear Mites can be easily treated with just oil and Q-tips. As soon as the mites are discovered, treat the infected rabbit and any other bunny that could possibly be exposed. Note that mites can live without a host for 4-6 days. To treat, dab mineral or olive oil on the scabs with a Q-tip. Don’t try to scrape off the scabs, the oil will soften the crust in the ear, drowning the eggs and mites and allowing the rabbit to shake out the crusts on its own. For even better results, warm the oil up slightly, but not too hot! Treat like this for three days straight. Then every other day for another three days. Lastly, to ensure complete elimination, treat once a week for three weeks, monitoring your rabbits ears for any sign that the mites are coming back. 

Prevention: 

To make sure the ear mites don’t come back, be sure to inspect your rabbits ears regularly. Additionally, some rabbit breeders like to treat their rabbits monthly, adding an extra level of protection against any future outbreaks.  

Further Reading: 

“Ear Mites [solved thank you!]” – http://rabbittalk.com/post294176.html#p294176

“Rabbit Illnesses Resulting from Parasites” – https://www.raising-rabbits.com/rabbit-illnesses.html

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