Warning: pictures of animal ear infection!
Recently we received a momma rabbit and her kits from someone who has since turned into a wonderful friend. Unfortunately, the stress of integrating into a colony setting allowed ear mites to take hold. With everything else going on, we didn’t notice for a few days, allowing it to get pretty bad.
Looking online, I found a home remedy for it, and we handled it. She’s doing well and her ears already look better. One almost looks back to normal. But for anyone else raising rabbits, I felt that our experience might be helpful.
First thing first, how to diagnose. It’s not hard. The inside of the ears gets crusty, and it happens fast. I wish I’d taken a picture before we started, but believe me this is already an improvement.
The first thing you do is hold the rabbit securely but gently. Some petting to calm her down can help. Remember, she is already uncomfortable, and probably doesn’t want to be held. Take some coconut oil and smear it onto the crusty stuff. It will be gross. Please don’t vomit on the rabbit, she’s having a bad enough day. Let that sit for a few hours.
Get some cotton balls, makeup pads, or q-tips, and some warm water. Depending on how bad it is, tweezers might also help. The crustiness might be flaky. This part is MUCH easier with two people. One holds the rabbit and the other gets the gunk out. She will not like it. She will probably bleed. She will try to get away. She may scream.
The instructions I read basically say to do this, then apply neosporin and observe for a few days. However, if it’s bad or you just want to make the process easier on the bunny, do what we did. We got the outer most stuff off, reapplied the oil, and went back to it several hours later.
Here’s where it got really gross. This is the gunk we pulled out of one ear. I guess as the flaky crusty nasty gunk formed, it was falling down into her ear and getting stuck. Well, she didn’t enjoy it but we got it all out.
It really helps to wrap her up in a towel to avoid getting scratched. One hand holding her head gently reduces the head shaking. If tweezers are in her ear and she shakes hard, it could injure her so be very careful.
We reapplied coconut oil and kept her in isolation. The last thing she needs now is to get into fights.
The final step, once you’re sure all the gunk is out, is to clean and disinfect. Gently wipe out the oil and apply neosporin or something similar. The coconut oil will suffocate most of the mites, but ear mite drops certainly wouldn’t hurt.
All the instructions I’ve seen indicate that you should expect a kicking, screaming rabbit. However, she was so calm and sweet that it was shocking. Sure, she tried getting away a few times and ground her teeth a bit, but not nearly as bad as we expected. She has earned a name.
Sugar Cookie is recovering nicely.
Even though it’s raining (thank goodness! We needed rain so badly) we recently upgraded the rabbit pen with a party canopy so she will stay nice and dry while everything heals.