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View Full Version : Mites on healthy buns, is it really 'a thing'?!



Squishies
14-02-2017, 10:47 PM
I took my pair to the vets last Monday for the RHD2 vaccine, and while we were the there the vet checked them over including teeth, ears etc. All was well and both buns are their usual selves, playing, running, eating, pooping, destroying my furniture, etc!

This evening, post-playtime, I have just taken them back outside to the aviary for evening feed, a last run around the grass, and bedtime...

Coming back in to the house there was a small tuft of hair from (I think) girl bunny's foot, which I picked up to put in the waste, but for some reason stopped to look at it and marvel at how soft it was: There are some tiny tan-brown flecks, almost indiscernible to the naked eye, a bit like dust on some of the fur, and (although it's pretty hard to tell and I may be freaking out and imagining things!), it looked like some were moving.

Naturally I am super-worried and will be taking the fur sample to the vets tomorrow for a look under the microscope and some advice.

In the meantime, I am little stumped as to where this may have arisen and if it is an issue -- the buns are in great shape, good bill of health, good coats and skin with no patchiness of fur, no itching/scratching and no dandruff, no flakes, nor any other symptoms usually associated with mites that I can see.

I will still be going to the vets of course, and will do everything necessary and more if there is an identifiable or suspected problem, but after a precautionary reading up on mites, my questions to those who may be more knowledgeable than I, are:
1. Is it possible for perfectly healthy buns to have low level or occasional mites? ...one of the articles I have just read quotes "Rabbits typically have a small number of benign fur mites even when healthy"... really? really?! Is that really 'a thing'?
2. if this is a new thing for my buns, where on earth has it come from?
...from hay? ...at the previous visit to the vets? ...from living outside where other animals/vermin like rats may potentially pass by?
Could be any of the above I suspect? Could they have always been there even?
3. If it turns out to be mites, are my buns likely to be in any discomfort despite having no symptoms?
Another article says "It should be quite apparent, if your rabbit has any form of fur mites, since the rabbit will scratch, be uncomfortable and there will be fur loss" ...um, no, no symptoms whatsoever!
4. Am I panicking over nothing? I am worried about my fluffy babies!

As ever, any thoughts/advice welcome -- off to run a bath, I now feel itchy and stressed just thinking about it!

MightyMax
14-02-2017, 11:05 PM
I took my pair to the vets last Monday for the RHD2 vaccine, and while we were the there the vet checked them over including teeth, ears etc. All was well and both buns are their usual selves, playing, running, eating, pooping, destroying my furniture, etc!

This evening, post-playtime, I have just taken them back outside to the aviary for evening feed, a last run around the grass, and bedtime...

Coming back in to the house there was a small tuft of hair from (I think) girl bunny's foot, which I picked up to put in the waste, but for some reason stopped to look at it and marvel at how soft it was: There are some tiny tan-brown flecks, almost indiscernible to the naked eye, a bit like dust on some of the fur, and (although it's pretty hard to tell and I may be freaking out and imagining things!), it looked like some were moving.

Naturally I am super-worried and will be taking the fur sample to the vets tomorrow for a look under the microscope and some advice.

In the meantime, I am little stumped as to where this may have arisen and if it is an issue -- the buns are in great shape, good bill of health, good coats and skin with no patchiness of fur, no itching/scratching and no dandruff, no flakes, nor any other symptoms usually associated with mites that I can see.

I will still be going to the vets of course, and will do everything necessary and more if there is an identifiable or suspected problem, but after a precautionary reading up on mites, my questions to those who may be more knowledgeable than I, are:
1. Is it possible for perfectly healthy buns to have low level or occasional mites? ...one of the articles I have just read quotes "Rabbits typically have a small number of benign fur mites even when healthy"... really? really?! Is that really 'a thing'?
2. if this is a new thing for my buns, where on earth has it come from?
...from hay? ...at the previous visit to the vets? ...from living outside where other animals/vermin like rats may potentially pass by?
Could be any of the above I suspect? Could they have always been there even?
3. If it turns out to be mites, are my buns likely to be in any discomfort despite having no symptoms?
Another article says "It should be quite apparent, if your rabbit has any form of fur mites, since the rabbit will scratch, be uncomfortable and there will be fur loss" ...um, no, no symptoms whatsoever!
4. Am I panicking over nothing? I am worried about my fluffy babies!

As ever, any thoughts/advice welcome -- off to run a bath, I now feel itchy and stressed just thinking about it!


Hi Marie

Yes, mites can live happily on a rabbit, and they only become a pest when the rabbit's immune system is lowered and they can proliferate. But dust on the underside of feet doesn't sound like mites. Mites cause something looking like 'walking dandruff'.

Black/brown specks could be fleas, but to be honest, could be just dirt?

Why not have another look tomorrow, in daylight. Are they indoors overnight?

Squishies
15-02-2017, 12:27 AM
Hi MM and thank you for the reassurance/wise words as ever! It's just a bit of a mystery given their beautiful coats and good health, there's no dandruff, no patchiness or itching; nothing at all.

It's minuscule flecks that are a tan-y colour, way way too small to be fleas, <0.5mm - I really hope it's dirt or sawdust (I was sawing chipboard in the garden a few weeks ago) and I'm just overreacting - I could well be over-tired and imagining the movement, but still. ...I don't like the idea of mites though, it worries me for the bunnies; I'll definitely take a second look in the daylight and take the sample to the vets to be sure.

The buns are outdoor rabbits, they live in big aviary style outdoor housing so they can safely run in and out of their hutch and hideaways as they please.
They only come indoors (unheated) in the evening for extra playtime, in the months when it's too dark for them to be safely watched loose in the garden. They believe they own the house, the garden and indeed their actual home... Of course, this is going to make sterilisation of everything, should I need to, rather difficult!

I can't be sure it's a piece of fur from girl bunny's foot, but it looks a lot like the little white fur tufts she occasionally gets on the side of the feet (along the side, not the underside; see this thread, a bit like a less extreme version of this I think - http://forums.rabbitrehome.org.uk/showthread.php?386844-fur-clumps-on-feet); minilops can have very furry feet apparently; it's very cute, but when they hop across wet grass or mud I end up with little damp footprints across the carpet!

JessBun
15-02-2017, 12:37 AM
In all honesty, if they were moving then yes it's highly likely it's mites. There doesn't need to be any missing fur, scabs or flaky skin for them to be present. The mites are small, and having witnessed it on Autumn when I first got her - it does make you think you're going mad as you do a double take. Hers were very small and off white/tan coloured, and just looked like slowly moving specks. She had no missing fur or scabs. I only noticed as I noticed her scratching and whilst it wasn't entirely excessive it was still not a normal amount of scratching IMO. So I looked in her fur, took me a good while to get down to the 'root of it', excuse the pun, and see them though. This was very shortly after I first got her.

It's easily treatable, and with no missing fur or scabs not a huge cause for concern, your plan of taking the fur and mites along to the vets is exactly what I would do and they will advise what treatments best :wave:

MightyMax
15-02-2017, 12:39 AM
Hi MM and thank you for the reassurance/wise words as ever! It's just a bit of a mystery given their beautiful coats and good health, there's no dandruff, no patchiness or itching; nothing at all.

It's minuscule flecks that are a tan-y colour, way way too small to be fleas, <0.5mm - I really hope it's dirt or sawdust (I was sawing chipboard in the garden a few weeks ago) and I'm just overreacting - I could well be over-tired and imagining the movement, but still. ...I don't like the idea of mites though, it worries me for the bunnies; I'll definitely take a second look in the daylight and take the sample to the vets to be sure.

The buns are outdoor rabbits, they live in big aviary style outdoor housing so they can safely run in and out of their hutch and hideaways as they please.
They only come indoors (unheated) in the evening for extra playtime, in the months when it's too dark for them to be safely watched loose in the garden. They believe they own the house, the garden and indeed their actual home... Of course, this is going to make sterilisation of everything, should I need to, rather difficult!

I can't be sure it's a piece of fur from girl bunny's foot, but it looks a lot like the little white fur tufts she occasionally gets on the side of the feet (along the side, not the underside; see this thread, a bit like a less extreme version of this I think - http://forums.rabbitrehome.org.uk/showthread.php?386844-fur-clumps-on-feet); minilops can have very furry feet apparently; it's very cute, but when they hop across wet grass or mud I end up with little damp footprints across the carpet!


You're welcome :D

Yes I know those little fur clumps on mini lops feet :) It could be anything, but it's great that you're so observant. I tend to pull out the tufty bits that look like they're getting in the way. You have to be careful not to interfere with the integrity of the fur on their feet. That said, I shouldn't worry until you've more info :)

I also remembered that the other night I said I would PM you with my whereabouts. If I forget again, give me a nudge! Did the girl come over yet who's going to look after your babies?

MightyMax
15-02-2017, 12:49 AM
In all honesty, if they were moving then yes it's highly likely it's mites. There doesn't need to be any missing fur, scabs or flaky skin for them to be present. The mites are small, and having witnessed it on Autumn when I first got her - it does make you think you're going mad as you do a double take. Hers were very small and off white/tan coloured, and just looked like slowly moving specks. She had no missing fur or scabs. I only noticed as I noticed her scratching and whilst it wasn't entirely excessive it was still not a normal amount of scratching IMO. So I looked in her fur, took me a good while to get down to the 'root of it', excuse the pun, and see them though. This was very shortly after I first got her.

It's easily treatable, and with no missing fur or scabs not a huge cause for concern, your plan of taking the fur and mites along to the vets is exactly what I would do and they will advise what treatments best :wave:

Hi Jess :wave: Lovely to 'see' you again :)

A couple of articles on mites:

http://www.rabbitwelfare.co.uk/resources/content/info-sheets/RWAF%20Skin%20Problems%20in%20rabbits.pdf

http://www.medirabbit.com/EN/Skin_diseases/Parasitic/furmite/fur_mite.htm

Underneath a rabbit's foot isn't the prime area to find mites, but of course anywhere would be possible x

Squishies
15-02-2017, 08:08 AM
Thanks MM, thanks Jess... I will take the sample to the vets and see whether they tell me I'm a mad lady or not ;), and will report back!

Great articles, I see one of them mentions this theme that I have seen elsewhere "most rabbits have low grade infestations that are not detectable until either something triggers the mite population to flare up from time to time, or the rabbit can no longer keep the mite population in check by effective grooming.". It seems strange to me that they would carry something like this, but I suppose we all carry all kinds of asymptomatic bugs half the time!

I can't see anything on the fur on their bodies, and there's no scratching at all that I've seen, but I think, like Jess, if anything whatsoever is visible on the fur sample I would be inclined to do a full treatment -- let's see what the vets say then!
...Jess, was it Ivermectin you used, and did you use anything on the living quarters beyond a deep clean with rabbit-safe disinfectant?

Mx

SarahP
15-02-2017, 08:13 AM
Thanks MM, thanks Jess... I will take the sample to the vets and see whether they tell me I'm a mad lady or not ;), and will report back!

Great articles, I see one of them mentions this theme that I have seen elsewhere "most rabbits have low grade infestations that are not detectable until either something triggers the mite population to flare up from time to time, or the rabbit can no longer keep the mite population in check by effective grooming.". It seems strange to me that they would carry something like this, but I suppose we all carry all kinds of asymptomatic bugs half the time!

I can't see anything on the fur on their bodies, and there's no scratching at all that I've seen, but I think, like Jess, if anything whatsoever is visible on the fur sample I would be inclined to do a full treatment -- let's see what the vets say then!
...Jess, was it Ivermectin you used, and did you use anything on the living quarters beyond a deep clean with rabbit-safe disinfectant?

Mx

Yes, the same seems to be true of all small furry critters. I think this is even the case for humans (bleurgh!), eg. demodex mites.

MightyMax
15-02-2017, 10:26 AM
Thanks MM, thanks Jess... I will take the sample to the vets and see whether they tell me I'm a mad lady or not ;), and will report back!

Great articles, I see one of them mentions this theme that I have seen elsewhere "most rabbits have low grade infestations that are not detectable until either something triggers the mite population to flare up from time to time, or the rabbit can no longer keep the mite population in check by effective grooming.". It seems strange to me that they would carry something like this, but I suppose we all carry all kinds of asymptomatic bugs half the time!

I can't see anything on the fur on their bodies, and there's no scratching at all that I've seen, but I think, like Jess, if anything whatsoever is visible on the fur sample I would be inclined to do a full treatment -- let's see what the vets say then!
...Jess, was it Ivermectin you used, and did you use anything on the living quarters beyond a deep clean with rabbit-safe disinfectant?

Mx

Ivermectin is the drug of choice :D It's three doses, spaced a fortnight apart.

Vets used to advocate lots of spraying with chemicals to get rid of mites, but that seems to have dropped out of favour. You will need to treat all rabbits together though. The vet normally does a 'spot on' or an injection of Ivermectin.

Really odd she should have mites (if it is?) on just one foot?

Squishies
15-02-2017, 09:03 PM
Well, it's quite probable she (or he, if the fur was from somewhere on him) doesn't! There's nothing to be found on their bodies/coats, and as before, no symptoms or scratching. ...in fact they are being particularly naughty and active today, so they are clearly fine and so I am going to try to calm down and relax!

I had a long chat with the vet this afternoon and have taken away some Xeno 450 (Ivermectin is indeed the active ingredient) to do a precautionary treatment with, as you say, both buns. ['spot on' two doses, with 10-14 days between]
...I'd like to be 100% sure they're fighting fit and with nothing lurking, even at a minor level, so I may as well. I've never treated them for anything before; the vert said that some owners do a yearly treatment as a matter of course, which I never knew before.

One interesting thing the vet did say (as I was asking loads of questions as usual :oops:), was that most bunnies have mites which grooming keeps in check and so never ever flares up, unless during times of illness or stress; and the latest thinking is that it's passed on from the mother (rather than being brought in on an external vector e.g. hay).
...well I have learnt something today!

Thanks MM, thanks Jess, thanks Sarah for all your wisdom on these things as always - Sarah, bleurgh indeed, I am such a clean-freak that that makes me itchy just thinking about it!

Mx