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What are Pinworms?

Pinworms can live undetected in a rabbit’s colon, cecum, and small intestines, even in large amounts. They are usually only found by the erratic itching behavior they may cause, or the visible worms in feces that can sometimes be seen. The only way to transmit this parasite is through direct contact with the feces of an infected rabbit. Generally, if an infected rabbit lives alone, it probably became infected at the pet store or breeder. It can be contracted at any age, and is a common parasite found worldwide.

Pinworms, or Passalurus ambiguus, are an intestinal parasite that infects only rabbits. While not lethal, they can cause secondary symptoms, such as itching, skin irritation, and intestinal problems, making your rabbit uncomfortable.

Pinworms Average Cost

From 388 quotes ranging from $100 - $200

Average Cost

$150

Symptoms of Pinworms in Rabbits

Though many rabbits infested with pinworms will show no visible signs of the infestation, some symptoms to look for include:

  • Constant itching
  • Biting and scratching of infected areas
  • Irritated anus
  • Rectal prolapse
  • Inflammation and redness in infected areas
  • Self-inflicted trauma
  • Visible small white worms near anus or in feces
  • Poor weight gain
  • Slow growth
  • Decrease in activity
  • Increase in stickiness of feces
  • Coat in poor condition
  • Lack of appetite
  • Diarrhea and enteritis around the time of weaning
  • General poor body condition
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Causes of Pinworms in Rabbits

A pinworm infestation is caused by the ingestion of pinworm eggs, usually by way of your rabbit eating the feces of an infected rabbit. After ingestion of pinworm eggs, the larvae can begin to hatch after only 30 hours. The eggs can remain active and in the environment for years, even at room temperature. Rabbits with diminished immunity may be more susceptible to pinworm infestation.

Infestation can occur from:

  • Ingestion of pinworm contaminated feces
  • Ingestion of pinworm contaminated food, water or debris
  • Ingestion of pinworm eggs
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Diagnosis of Pinworms in Rabbits

After a physical exam, and taking into consideration any symptoms that may be present, your veterinarian may suspect a pinworm infestation. A sample of your rabbit’s feces will then be tested by a microscopic smear, fecal float test, or centrifuge technique to determine the presence of eggs. Eggs can sometimes be collected by pressing clear tape to the skin near the anus. Adult pinworms, which can range from 2-11 mm in length, may also be visible near the anus of your rabbit, or directly in its feces.

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Treatment of Pinworms in Rabbits

Fatal cases of pinworms in rabbits are very rare, and treatment is easy to obtain. Treatment can prove difficult, however, because rabbits are coprophagic, meaning they eat their own feces, thus re-infestation can easily occur. A common occurrence among rabbits is the ingestion of night pellets, or cecotropes, nutrient dense pellets that come from the cecum and are essential for your rabbit’s health. The time of day this occurs varies, and is often out of sight of caregivers. Either type of pellet ingestion can cause a re-infestation. Therefore, treatment of the rabbit and its environment must occur simultaneously.

Antiparasitic drugs are usually prescribed, and can often be dosed by adding to food or water. These may include piperazine dosed in water, fenbendazole dosed in food, or ivermectin as a topical treatment. The treatment regimen may need to be repeated to completely eradicate all pinworms and their eggs. Some antiparasitic drugs can be toxic to some of the new breeds of rabbits, or run the risk of altered reproduction and behavior in treated animals, so discuss these issues with your veterinarian if they are a concern.

Then, to prevent reinfection, all the areas in which your rabbit lives, plays and roams need to be diligently cleaned. By keeping up with this cleaning, and eliminating all eggs present in your rabbit’s environment, re-infestation can be prevented, and the elimination of the pinworm infestation in your rabbit can be successful.

If any secondary symptoms are causing malnourishment or digestive complaints, an altered diet may be suggested, or assisted care to get your rabbit back to a healthy state may be administered. Pinworms in rabbits are species specific, and are not transmittable to humans.

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Recovery of Pinworms in Rabbits

Keeping your rabbit’s environment clean and sanitary is the best chance to avoid re-infestation and ensure a complete recovery. If your rabbit shares any spaces with other rabbits, make sure to have them tested as well, as they have likely been infested too. Diets high in fiber have been known to reduce pinworm populations. An altered diet may also be prescribed to help with any secondary symptoms.

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Pinworms Average Cost

From 388 quotes ranging from $100 - $200

Average Cost

$150

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Pinworms Questions and Advice from Veterinary Professionals

Need pet health advice? Ask a vet

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Ask a Vet

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Rex rabbit

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3-6 months?

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Unknown severity

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0 found helpful

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Pinworms

Hi! I’m just wondering somethings concerning pinworms in my bunny. We have 4 cats who are always around my bunny as she is free roam. I have been reading up on pinworms in bunny’s and have come across something saying that the pinworms that affect bunny’s will not affect a human. I would like to know if that’s true and if my cats could get them as well. Also what would be the best medication. I’m really worried about finding the right one

Aug. 4, 2020

Owner

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Dr. Michele K. DVM

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0 Recommendations

Thank you for your question. People cannot get pinworms from animals, but it is likely that your cats could get them from your rabbit. Pinworms are not really that common, however, and there are other parasites that are much more common. Since I cannot see your rabbit or what parasites you may be seeing, it would be a good idea to take a fecal sample to a veterinarian and have your rabbit examined and the fecal sample analyzed to see what parasites may be there. They will be able to get you the correct medication to clear up any parasites that are there. I hope that all goes well!

Aug. 4, 2020

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Rabbit

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Three Months

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Unknown severity

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0 found helpful

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Unknown severity

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Sudden Death

Have had multiple deaths of young rabbits. Age 6 weeks to 3 months. Even with my best momma rabbit. These are large meat rabbits babies. Mostly New Zealand Breed. My daughter saw a small worm in the rectum of a dead 8 week old baby when she was removing it. We give all rabbits ice bottles daily, fresh water, and they have a fan. Each have a back box to get out of the fan. The temps are in the 90’s. I live in Alabama. I have never lost so many juvenile rabbits. We have lost almost two liters. Any suggestions? Treat for worms? They mostly get rabbit pellets and hay. Have stopped all outside food

July 30, 2020

Owner

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Dr. Michele K. DVM

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0 Recommendations

Thank you for your question. There are many causes for sudden death in baby rabbits, including parasites, infectious disease, or bad feed. Since this seems to be somewhat of an epidemic at your place, it would probably be best to have them seen by a veterinarian at some point. They will be able to examine your rabbits, see if there are parasites or other obvious infections happening, and get treatment for anything that might be happening. I hope that all goes well.

July 30, 2020

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babblu

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Rex

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5 Years

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Critical severity

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Circum-Anal Warts

my rabbit is pooping continuously and the butt area has red big bumps Another discovery is that of circum-anal warts in this female rabbit. She had been licking these warts red. like its bleeding what should i do??

March 6, 2018

babblu's Owner

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Dr. Michele K. DVM

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Thank you for your email. Since I cannot examine Babblu or determine what might be going on with her, it would be best to make an appointment with your veterinarian to have her seen. They will be able to look at the area, determine what might be going on, and recommend any necessary testing or treatments for her.

March 6, 2018

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Pinworms Average Cost

From 388 quotes ranging from $100 - $200

Average Cost

$150

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