Our family has had pet rabbits for decades, and some of those rabbits have stayed both inside and outdoors. With this arrangement, we too have worried about our pet bunnies getting fleas. Over the years, here is what we’ve learned about rabbit fleas.
So, can your pet rabbit get fleas? Yes, rabbits can get fleas. They are an animal with fur just like a dog or cat, so, it is a warm nesting ground for those nasty fleas. Both indoor and outdoor rabbits will most likely get fleas from another animal as fleas are jumpy in nature.
The nature of fleas
There are over 2,000 types of fleas.
For rabbits, it is more common to get a cat flea; however, there is a more rare rabbit flea too.
Fleas are tiny and wingless insects, but they can jump far with their long legs. They can jump as far as 13 in and as high as 7 in. That means they can easily jump from one animal to another.
Fleas on cats and dogs may be more common, but depending on where you go with your rabbit and who your rabbit hangs out with, they can get them too.
Going to a place like another person’s house or the vet where there are other animals, you must be wary of what is there.
Even going outside in an outdoor rabbit playpen (or even living outside and eating only grass as we talk about in this article), your pet bunny may come in contact with a wild rabbit. Even if they are friendly with each other, you do not know if that friend has fleas.
How do I know if my bunny has fleas?
Now, after that interaction, you need to check if your bunny got any fleas. To do this, you need to check the signs. It may not show any signs at first, but a flea infestation will show.
The Signs of Fleas
#1 Seeing the Fleas
Fleas are super-fast and may be hard to spot. You can try stroking the fur backward and looking around the spine or neck areas.
A clear sign is when your cute little bunny is suffering from itchiness. The poor guy cannot help but nibble on their skin. You may even find yourself itching.
Rabbit fleas on humans can bite as well, but they are normally harmless to humans unless the person is very sensitive to insect bites. On humans, flea bites can easily be mistaken for a mosquito bite.
#3 Flea Dirt
Reddish-brown specks may be seen on the skin called flea dirt, which is a mixture of flea poo and dried blood.
Grab a damp paper towel and nicely wipe up what you think is flea dirt. If the paper towel turns reddish-brown (from the dried blood), then it is indeed flea dirt and not just normal dirt.
If you have not checked your pet rabbit for fleas in a long while then it might already have turned into an infestation.
When this happens, your poor rabbit could be suffering from blood loss. This will turn the rabbit into anemic and it will look weak with pale gums.
#5 Losing hair and scaling
Another severe condition is the loss of hair. The skin can turn dandruff looking too.
What to do if you see signs of fleas on your rabbit?
Although there are many different conditions that can cause these signs of fleas, seeing any of these signs means you should really figure out what’s going on and fix it!
If you’re not sure it’s fleas, then it is best to get a vet to check your pet and get the correct diagnosis and treatment.
How to treat fleas on a rabbit?
Going to a vet will help you get everything you need, but you can also treat your pet yourself if you are educated enough.
Make sure you are treating any other furry animals living in your home at the same time.
When the flea’s habitat is becoming hostile, they will try to jump onto the next livable area. Make sure you are flea checking and treating all your pets.
What to stay away from
Treating rabbits will be different than treating pets like dogs and cats. For them, it is common to you a flea killer called Fipronil, but it is toxic for rabbits!
You must pay attention to the ingredients.
Other bad ingredients to avoid are Permethrin and Pyrethrin.
Frontline Flea Treatment is not safe for rabbits, it contains Fipronil.
Keep in mind that you should equally careful with flea dips and shampoos for rabbits.
Topical Skin Medication
The first solution for fleas is to use topical skin medication. They are usually used for dogs and cats but work well on rabbits too.
These treatments are different from general topical treatments (more on these later) because they are administered on the back of the animal’s neck only (instead of the whole animal as in general topical treatments)
You can get these from your vet, a pet store, or even on Amazon. Here is an Amazon affiliate link to my favorite skin flea treatment for rabbits. In my experience, it’s been mild to our bunny yet effective.
Popular topical treatments available are called Advantage, Program, and Revolution. Most rabbit owners use the puppy or kitten dose, but if in doubt consult with your vet.
When you apply the medication, make sure you put it on the rabbit’s neck, so they cannot lick it.
This is not a complete cure for fleas, but it can still help get rid of them faster.
A flea comb is unique in that it has a series of metal prongs that are nearer to each other than a standard comb.
You simply comb through the hair, getting as close to the skin as possible, and the fleas will be raked out of the hair.
After every stoke, make sure you drown the comb in warm soapy water to kill any fleas that you may have picked up.
Rabbit Flea Treatments to Be Avoided
General Topical Treatments
I consider general topicals anything that covers the whole bunny. This includes sprays, shampoos, dips, and powders.
These products should only be used after talking with your veterinarian.
Rabbits, just like other animals, love to groom by licking their fur. You do not want them ingesting any potential harmful chemicals that might be in these products.
Flea collars are a huge NO for rabbits.
It is so easy for your pet rabbit to get trapped or even choked by a collar. Just don’t do it!
Flea Treatment of Your Pet’s Environment
Not only do your pets need to be treated, but so does the area where they live as well.
Especially carpets need cleaning as they are a breeding ground for fleas! That’s pretty gross to think about.
When Fleas grow older, they attach to a host and become parasitic. As young fleas, they’ll happily live in your carpet or grass.
Treating carpets for fleas
Begin with vacuuming, and then use the powder on the carpet. Mix it in and leave it for at least 30 minutes.
Other areas they tend to hide in are the furniture, beds, and floor cracks. Make sure when cleaning and using things like the flea bombs or sprays; that you keep your rabbit safe and sound, away from the area for at least 24 hours (or follow the directions on the product).
If you are scared that fleas may still live in your home, then you can always hire a professional. Although, make sure they are not using any chemicals that are dangerous to your pets in their products.
Rabbit Flea Prevention
The best way to get rid of rabbit fleas is to never get rabbit fleas. So how can we go about preventing our beloved bunny from every bringing fleas into our homes?
#1 Keep your home and other pets clean to prevent your rabbits from getting fleas.
#2 Reduce the chance of a few fleas becoming an infestation with vacuuming or steam cleaning.
#3 You can even consider using sprays, flea bombs, or boric-acid treatments to have a flea-free zone.
#4 Check your sweet bunny regularly for any signs of fleas. If caught early, it’s much easier to get rid of the fleas.
#5 As always, keep your rabbits safe and loved.