If your pet rabbit is itching and scratching, he may have a common ecto-parasite called lice. The word is terrifying and probably makes you itch just thinking about it.
Don't worry! There are ways you can avoid this gross little parasite and safely treat your pet if he contracts it. Pet lice can be treated and eliminated safely if you know what to do.
01 of 05
First, Kill the Lice!
If you suspect your pet rabbit has lice, seek medical attention from your exotic pet veterinarian immediately. Your exotics vet can diagnose your pet with lice and treat it appropriately, possibly using a drug like ivermectin or selamectin off-label (meaning the drug is not intended for this purpose but veterinarians routinely use it).
Do not attempt to buy over-the-counter medication from a drug store or pet store to treat rabbit lice. Human lice treatments are far too strong for a small pet and... can kill your rabbit. Pet store treatments can be dangerous in their own right, causing seizures or just being ineffective and a waste of money. It's better to rid the lice from your pet than the pet from the lice, so play it safe and speak with your vet.
02 of 05
Clean the Cage Thoroughly
After your rabbit has received proper treatment from your vet, and before returning your pet to his enclosure, thoroughly clean and wash the cage, dishes, and any toys in the cage with water and some mild dish detergent. Be sure to rinse all the soap off before putting fresh bedding in. Throw out any bedding and food that could have been previously infected, and freeze any remaining materials to kill any insects that may be hiding out for at least 24 hours.
If it is below freezing outside you can... also place the cage and belongings (without the bunny in it, of course!) outside to freeze and then replace the food, water, and bedding the next day.
03 of 05
This means humans get human lice, mice get mouse lice, guinea pigs get guinea pig lice, and rabbits get rabbit lice. So don't worry about you or your child getting lice from their pet rabbit with pediculosis (lice infestation).
If a rabbit louse jumps on you, it won't bite you and it won't survive. You can't get lice from your pet rabbit, and you can't give lice to him either.
04 of 05
Mites Vs. Lice
Simply put, mites are arachnids like spiders and ticks, and lice are insects like ants. There are also two kinds of lice, sucking lice and biting or chewing lice. The sucking lice are more worrisome than the chewing lice because of the possibility of blood-borne disease transmission and anemia (excessive blood loss).
Regardless of the type of lice your rabbit has both are quite itchy. Don't delay getting treatment for your rabbit! The only way you'll know what kind of lice your rabbit has... is if you look at a louse under the microscope and have it identified.Continue to 5 of 5 below.
05 of 05
Pets at Risk
Rats, mice, guinea pigs, and gerbils are the most common pets to acquire lice. Oddly enough, as popular and overbred as they have become, hamsters are not widely known to get infected with lice, but guinea pigs commonly do.
Rabbits will occasionally become infected, especially if they have spent time with other rabbits, such as at a fair or a rabbit show.