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Rabbit ear mites

Rabbit Ear Mites

Rabbit ear mites are caused by Psoroptes cuniculi, a highly contagious, tenacious and painful ear mite.

Ear mites belong to the class Arachnida, which includes ticks, the dust mite, and the mold mite. Rabbit ear mites form a crust inside the ear canal which causes intense itching, such that the rabbit often develops secondary sores, scabs, and infections of the ear.

The rabbit ear mites initially invade the deeper regions of the rabbit's external ear canal. Because of this, early infestations of ear mites in rabbits are often missed by rabbit owners.

Symptoms of rabbit ear mites

  • Intense scratching of the ears and head
  • Excessive head shaking
  • Redness of the skin inside the ear
  • Thick reddish-brown crusts in the ear
  • Bleeding ear canals (in case severe mite infestation).
In case you see these signs and symptoms, immediately see a vet before the condition gets worsen.

Generally, the vet will prescribe selamectin, to kill the mites. Along with the recommended medications, you must take proper care at home for effectively treating rabbit ear mites. If left untreated, ear mites can permanently damage your rabbit’s ears due to excessive scratching.

Diagnosis of rabbit ear mites

The veterinarian performs a complete physical examination, including direct visualization of mites within the ear using an otoscope and microscopic examination of swabs taken from the ear. It is vital to clean your rabbit’s ear regularly but as the animals are active it’s hard to make them sit calmly for long. Here are the steps for treating rabbit ear mites at home.
  • Firstly, you must wrap your rabbit gently in a towel, as it will prevent the animal from biting, kicking, or running away.
  • Warm some mineral oil to a lukewarm temperature. Use a cotton ball dipped in oil and carefully squeeze a few drops into its ears.
  • Gently massage the base of the animal’s ears as it will help in loosening the crust formed deep inside the ear canal.
  • Remove the crust using a cotton swab. Make sure that you do not pull the crust out of your rabbit's ears as this can tear the skin, leaving open abrasions that are susceptible to infection.
  • The crust will easily come off when it becomes saturated and your rabbit shakes its head.  
  • You can repeat the steps in case you find the crust is very thick.
  • In order to prevent a re-infestation from occurring, you must use a medicated shampoo during the entire treatment period. Also, thorough cleaning of the area with a preparation approved for fleas should be done at least twice for four weeks. It is vital to take proper care and treat rabbit ear mites promptly to prevent severe damage to the ear canals and the eardrum. Otherwise, animals have been known to permanently lose their hearing as a result of the ear mite’s infestation.
  Submitted on May 7, 2010  

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