Infestation of Mites in the Ear Average Cost

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What is Infestation of Mites in the Ear?

The rabbit ear mite, called Psoroptes cuniculi, is common in domestic rabbits. The ear mites, which are easily spread among rabbits and their environment, may infect one or both ears of your rabbit, causing irritation and crusting to occur in the infected ears. This condition can lead to significant discomfort for your rabbit and if it is not treated can lead to secondary infections in its advanced stages. Fortunately, treatment is straightforward and effective.

Ear mites in domestic rabbits cause irritation to the lining of the ear and lead to the formation of thick brown crusts, often called a “canker”.

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Symptoms of Infestation of Mites in the Ear in Rabbits

A rabbit that has ear mites may or may not show symptoms of infestation and one or both ears may be affected. Symptoms of ear mites in rabbits include the following:

  • Scratching and/or shaking their head or ears
  • Chewing their ears
  • Inflammation and crusting of the external ear canal of one or both ears
  • Crusting on the pinna flaps of one or both ears
  • Evidence of scratching at the skin of the neck, cheeks or base of the ears
  • Drooping of one or both ears
  • Hair thinning along the edges of the ear flaps
  • Weight loss

Types

Early stages -  In early stages of infestation, the ear mites enter the deeper parts of the rabbit’s external ear canal. At this stage, the mites won’t be visible and you may not realize there is a problem. A veterinarian looking into the ear canals of your rabbit may notice the first crusts which will lead to early diagnosis. 

Moderate to advanced stages - If the mite infestation is not diagnosed and treated, it will worsen and the issue will be easily visible. The ear mites will multiply, leading to more crusting and inflammation and extending from your rabbit’s ear canal to its pinna. If left untreated, it may lead to a secondary bacterial infection of your rabbit’s skin.

Causes of Infestation of Mites in the Ear in Rabbits

Ear mites are very contagious and are spread the following ways:

  • Direct contact with a rabbit that is infected. The mites will climb from one rabbit to another
  • Spending time in the environment where an infected rabbit has been (an uninfected rabbit may contract mites from flakes of the crust the infected rabbit has scratched or shaken off); mites are able to survive away from their host animal for days to weeks depending on humidity and temperature
  • Through the hands and clothes of the rabbit owner or caretaker from handling more than one rabbit
  • The risk of transmission is higher when many rabbits live close to each other in overcrowded quarters (hutches, pet shops, shelters, breeding facilities)
  • Infestations are typically worse when rabbits are living under stress (internal or external stress)

Diagnosis of Infestation of Mites in the Ear in Rabbits

When diagnosing ear mites, the veterinarian will first do a visual exam. Depending on the location of the ear mites, this may or may not be enough to confirm the diagnosis. The veterinarian may then use an otoscope to look far down into the ear canals of your rabbit for signs of crusting or to see the actual mites. Another option is to get a sample of the skin through scraping of the crust or scab from your rabbit’s ear or through taping. The veterinarian will then look at the sample under a microscope. Your rabbit’s ears may be painful and the veterinarian and you, as the rabbit’s owner, should be careful when handling them.

Treatment of Infestation of Mites in the Ear in Rabbits

While your rabbit is treated through medication, his environment should also be treated so that your rabbit is not re-infected.

Treating the Rabbit

Avermectins are able to successfully treat ear mites in rabbits. Options include:

  • Ivermectin: Given as an injectable at a dosage of 200-400 mcg/kg, in two or three treatments from 10-21 days apart
  • Selamectin (also called Revolution in the US or Stronghold in Europe); this will usually be given in a 20 mg dose applied topically every seven days
  • While avermectin compounds do not kill the eggs of the ear mites, the medication will stay in the tissue and kill the larvae.  

Treating the Environment

Rabbit ear mites can live for up to three weeks away from the host animal, therefore it is imperative that your rabbit’s environment be treated to avoid re-infection. 

  • First, set up temporary quarters for your rabbit, using a large box or crate and bedding that can be thrown away
  • Remove and dispose of any bedding in your rabbit’s environment
  • An insecticide that is safe for rabbits can be used on the hutch or cage. Make sure to read the label or speak with your veterinarian to be sure that what you are using is not toxic to your rabbit; in the case of wood hutches, replacement may be the best option as it is hard to clean and remove mites that are in the wood
  • No rabbits should be in the environment for 4 to 6 weeks to make sure that the mites are gone

Recovery of Infestation of Mites in the Ear in Rabbits

Treatment is typically effective and unless a secondary infection has developed, the veterinarian may not request a follow-up appointment. Should your rabbit have a secondary infection, additional follow-up and treatment may be required. Once treatment is underway, the medication administered should lead to the crusts falling off on their own or being easy to remove. 

The infected rabbit should be moved to temporary quarters while his regular environment is treated. Your rabbit should remain outside of its environment for four to six weeks, to allow time for the mites and their eggs to die off, preventing your rabbit from being re-infected once treated.

Infestation of Mites in the Ear Questions and Advice from Veterinary Professionals

Rodger
French Lop
1 Year
Mild condition
0 found helpful
Mild condition

Has Symptoms

Ear mites and not eating

Hello don't known if you can help but I have too rabbit's both lop rabbit's diagnosed with ear mites and have been to the vets and have been given injections but have now stopped eating and drinking very little, they don't seem to have moved their bowels.

Dr. Michele King, DVM
Dr. Michele King, DVM
1220 Recommendations
Your rabbits may have larger problems than ear mites if they are not eating or drinking, or defecating. Rabbits can quickly develop a stagnant intestinal tract if not moving around and eating, and it would be best to have them rechecked by your veterinarian to try and determine what is wrong.

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Biggie
Rabbit
2 Years
Moderate condition
0 found helpful
Moderate condition

Has Symptoms

loss of fur around the ear
crust on the nipples
crust on the feet
Itching
Ear Crust

My rabbit has all of the symptoms of ear mites. She has crust in her ears and it has started to spread to her feet. If I use the ear drops to get rid of the mites, will her outer body heal as well? When will I know that I absolutely need to get her to a vet?

Dr. Callum Turner, DVM
Dr. Callum Turner, DVM
2691 Recommendations
You should try treating the mites with a topical spot on containing ivermectin, this should help clear up the mites everywhere; see the link below for more information. If there is no improvement or Biggie is itching to be point of self mutilation you should visit your Veterinarian. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM www.dechra.co.uk/therapy-areas/companion-animal/exotics/antiparasitics-antifungals/disease-information/ear-mites-in-rabbits

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Max
n/a
1 Year
Moderate condition
0 found helpful
Moderate condition

Has Symptoms

Itching

I've noticed scabs and a large clump in his ear. Where do mites come from? I just noticed he had them,
Should I remove the canker? I've started using tea tree oil and coconut oil. My other rabbits are in a cage with there mom, That's all i have to add. thank you

Dr. Callum Turner, DVM
Dr. Callum Turner, DVM
2691 Recommendations
You should remove any dirt or debris from the ear as gently as possible and use an approved ear mite medication and not tea tree oil as rabbits are sensitive to it. I cannot confirm that what you’re seeing are ear mites so you should have the diagnosis confirmed by your Veterinarian to be on the safe side. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM www.dechra.co.uk/therapy-areas/companion-animal/exotics/antiparasitics-antifungals/disease-information/ear-mites-in-rabbits

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