4 Warning Signs Your Rabbit Might Have Ear Mites

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Rabbits are famous for their long soft ears, but those ears need to be well cared for. Unfortunately, ear mites are a relatively common problem for domestic rabbits. Known more properly as psoroptes cuniculi, these small parasites are not inherently dangerous to your rabbit, but they can make their lives far less pleasant by irritating their ears. In some cases, they may also lead to secondary infections.

Your vet should be able to treat the problem, but it's always best to catch it as soon as possible. While the ear mites that can attack your rabbit are usually too small to be seen by the naked eye, there are some warning signs you can watch out for.

Here are just four of these signs.

1. Headshaking and Ear Flapping

Ear mites like to crawl deep into a rabbit's ear canal. This makes it harder to dislodge them while also hiding them from view. This early irritation will often cause your rabbit to repeatedly shake their head or flap their ears – it usually looks just like they are trying to shake something away. This is often an easy sign to ignore, but it's usually the first symptom that something is wrong.

2. Excessive Scratching

As ear mites start to thrive and cause irritation, your rabbit is likely to start scratching excessively at the affected ear. They might only pay attention to one ear at first, but it's relatively common for ear mites to spread to both ears over time. Even if you don't catch them scratching, you may notice scratch marks around the ears or thinning hair along the edge of their ear flaps.

3. Behavioural Changes

Some rabbits will remain the same when they get ear mites, but others may show behavioural changes. You may notice a more subdued demeanour, and your rabbit may suddenly not like being petted as much as they did before, especially around the head. In some cases, your rabbit will start to eat less. Such behavioural changes are not necessarily caused by ear mites, but they should always prompt a trip to the vet.

4. Crusting

Over time, ear mites will produce a crusting along the ear canal and the upper part of your rabbit's ears. This will look much like a build-up of earwax, and such build-ups are sometimes known as 'cankers'. Such crusting is a sign that your rabbit's ear mite problem has become serious, so you should see your vet as soon as possible.

For more information, contact veterinary services near you.

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