Fleas are a huge problem for many pet owners, and they can infest your pet and your home seemingly overnight. They can be difficult to control, so it’s important to find ways to prevent them.
It’s important to know if fleas are actually a threat to your pet, though. If you have rabbits, you may have wondered if they can even get fleas. As is the case with most wildlife, fleas can indeed infest rabbits. Keep reading to learn more about this.
Can Rabbits Get Fleas?
Yes, rabbits can get fleas from cats and dogs, as well as wildlife, like wild bunnies. They are also susceptible to other parasites from other animals, like ticks and intestinal parasites. Rabbits are susceptible to fleas at any age, and all breeds of rabbits can acquire fleas.
Are Fleas Dangerous to Rabbits?
Flea infestations can be dangerous for rabbits. Fleas act as a vector for transmitting serious and often fatal diseases. These include, myxomatosis, tularemia, and even the plague! Fleas can lead to anemia when present in large numbers due to their consumption of blood from their host animal.
In most cases, fleas are a nuisance, but they can lead to notable problems for your rabbit, even if there are not many of them. Flea infestations can lead to infectious disease, excessive itchiness, which can lead to overgrooming, hair loss, and even skin infections.
Some rabbits are allergic to enzymes in the saliva of fleas, which can lead to extreme discomfort with flea bites. For animals with flea allergies, even one bite can lead to a skin flare-up.
How Can I Tell if My Rabbit Has Fleas?
Fleas are small (around 1-2.5mm) black jumping parasites that are visible to the naked eye. If you look through the coat of your rabbit you may see little creatures running through the hairs or tiny dark specks which are flea droppings or “flea dirt”. In Europe there are species of rabbit fleas that attach tightly along the ear margins in clusters. Itching, chewing, licking, biting, and excessive grooming all may indicate that your rabbit has fleas. Using a flea comb on your rabbit is the easiest way to find fleas on your rabbit.
How Can I Treat Fleas on My Rabbit?
At this time, there are no products on the market in the USA that are specifically formulated to prevent or treat fleas on rabbits. In European countries there are licensed products available. There are options that are safe for your rabbit, though. These products are formulated for dogs and cats but can be used off-label for rabbits.
It’s extremely important to only use products under the guidance of a veterinarian who is familiar with treating fleas on rabbits. Using the incorrect products on a rabbit can be deadly.
It’s also important to treat your rabbit’s environment if fleas are present. This is likely to be a multiple-step process involving changing bedding, vacuuming, and treating surfaces. Make sure to use rabbit-safe products. It is quite likely that the fleas are coming from your dog or cat and so these should also be treated for fleas as well.
Will Fleas Bite Me?
Fleas might bite you, but you aren’t going to end up with a flea infestation on your body. Humans are not ideal hosts for fleas. If a flea happens to jump onto you, it may bite you. In cases of heavy infestations, you may find yourself being bitten regularly, especially if your rabbit lives near your bed, couch, or other places where you spend time where fleas may be able to hide.
Rabbits are susceptible to fleas, in fact around 10 species of fleas can be found on rabbits. It can be difficult to treat fleas on your rabbit so prevention is better. Prevent wild animals from coming into contact with your rabbits and keep any cats and dogs up to date with their parasite medicines too. Contact your veterinarian for guidance on flea treatment products that can be used safely on your rabbit.
Treating your home and environment is necessary to fully eliminate fleas, and they can be quite difficult to get rid of, so be prepared to take multiple steps to eliminate fleas if your rabbit gets them and to persist for around 3 months.