This is a photo of maggots taken off a guinea pig suffering from fly strike. The owner is very conscientious and checks her guinea pig regularly, so was horrified to see wriggling maggots around her guinea pig’s back end. She brought her pet straight to the vets where we removed the maggots, and guinea pig is now absolutely fine. But this is an unpleasant reminder of how important it is for all owners of small furries (rabbits and guinea pigs) to check them twice daily during warm weather for any signs that they could be suffering from this painful and often fatal condition.
What is flystrike?
“Flystrike” is when flies lay eggs on an animal, the eggs hatch into maggots and the maggots then feed off the animal’s flesh. This process can take as little as 24 hours and flystrike is often fatal which is why a fast response is crucial.
Is my pet at risk?
Any rabbit or guinea pig can be affected, and the condition is especially common during the summer. Flies are particularly attracted to wounds, damp fur or if your pet is prone to having a dirty bottom. If your rabbit or guinea pig has any of the following, they have a higher risk of flystrike: weight issues; long hair; dental problems; runny eyes; tummy trouble; wounds; folds of skin around their bottom or tummy; an unclean hutch. Old rabbits and guinea pigs are also more prone to flystrike.
How to spot flystrike
High risk small furries should have their bottoms checked twice daily.
Check for eggs/ maggots immediately if:
They are quiet or unresponsive
They are agitated and are showing signs of discomfort.
What should I do if I find maggots?
Don’t panic, but do call the practice immediately as your small furry will need urgent veterinary treatment. If it doesn’t delay seeing the vet, you can remove any visible maggots with tweezers.
Flystrike is a very serious condition and sadly many rabbits and guinea pigs do not survive. However, if caught and treated quickly, they can make a full recovery.
There are lots of things you can do to reduce the risk of flystrike:
Provide a healthy diet
Change soiled bedding daily
Disinfect your hutch weekly
Check small furries daily, especially in the warmer summer months. High risk pets should be checked more frequently round their bottom
Add fly screens to hutches and runs
Ask us about preventative treatments available