Fly Strike

What is Fly Strike?

Fly Strike is a condition where rabbits become infested with maggots. Usually this occurs where flies are attracted to dirty/smelly/wet/warm conditions – they then lay their eggs on your bunny, the maggots hatch and they unfortunately feast on flesh.

Whilst horrid, Fly strike is surprisingly common, especially during warmer Summer months. The condition is very distressing, painful for your rabbit and can be fatal. So it really does need to be taken very seriously.


Hutch hygiene is paramount at all times, but especially in the warmer months. Higher risk bunnies are females that are unneutered, those that are overweight and so struggle to clean, those suffering with diarrhoea or urinary incontinence or those with dental problems where grooming is hindered.

To prevent fly strike you should:

  • Ensure your rabbit is not overweight – regular weighing is advised as small changes may indicate a health problem. Our nurses are on hand to give advice on dieting if necessary
  • Clean out daily in Summer months, at least the area where your pet goes to the toilet. Try to get them litter trained if possible
  • Use a fly repellent to your rabbit’s bottom during the Summer months. Bring your bunny to see a nurse to be applied if you are not comfortable doing this yourself
  • Use fly strips around the hutch area (not inside as your bunny may eat them!)
  • Use citronella candles or coils in the Summer – on top of the hutch or nearby, but out of reach of your rabbit. These should be supervised and placed where they are not a fire hazard
  • Place a bowl of sweet liquid nearby such as a strong syrup or cordial to distract flies
  • Check your rabbit’s bottom regularly – once daily is not adequate. If your rabbit is dirty, get them cleaned or bring them to see a nurse who can clip the fur to minimise risk. It only takes a few minutes but it could save their life!
  • Make sure your rabbit is kept groomed, especially long haired breeds. Matted fur makes the skin sore and sweaty which can again be tempting to flies
  • Rabbits that have dental problems, arthritis or diarrhoea and can’t clean themselves need to be bathed regularly, or have ‘Rearguard’ applied. This is a which repels flies for 10 weeks.

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