Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Cuterebra (Bot Fly Maggot) - WARNING GRAPHIC PHOTOS!

WARNING GRAPHIC PHOTOS - please do not continue reading if you do not want to see a graphic photo of a bunny after a sedated removal of a dead cuterebra (bot fly maggot)

Anyone who raises rabbits will see their fair share of rabbit related health problems and illnesses. I've had rabbits for a very long time now and have seen and experienced first hand some of the worst illnesses and problems rabbits can have. I've dealt with pasteurella causing upper respiratory and lower respiratory infections, I've gone through GI stasis on a number of occassions and have seen some instances of parasites. Today was my first experience with a truly horrible parasite the cuterebra, the larvae stage of the bot fly.

Gem had a small abrasion I had noticed on her back a few days ago which quickly escalated into a large sore, about a few inches up on her back. Yesterday I noticed a "hole" of sorts that looked like a nick. I knew immediately it was probably related to some sort of maggot infection so I took her into work today where she was sedated the nick enlarged and the cuterebra was removed. Following its removal the Veterinarian removed the capsule of the abcsess underneath and allowed as much builup to drain out, luckily there was little to no pus since she was able to remove the capsule intact. It was a disgusting thing to watch as a near inch long fat and dead maggot was pulled from the tiny wound..

For me its agonozing to think she had this brewing and I had no knowledge, up until a few days ago there were no clinical signs, she's been eating normally, playing, drinking and generally doing very well. The cuterebra has a numbing property which makes it mostly unnoticeable to the host, and luckily in Gem's case there was only one large larvae instead of many... It is hard to say how she got the parasite as bot flies are everywhere out here in the country. My rabbitry is indoors and fly free, it is a nearly controlled environment... now all of my rabbits play outside, they exercise in the grass and absolutely can pick up parasites out there. I do keep my rabbits on topical revolution to help control parasites but clearly this is not enough to prevent a cuterebra from getting under the skin... How Gem got the bot fly larvae will probably be a mystery but I am thankful I was able to have her treated. In her case, the larvae was too large to remove at home and did require sedation (especially since Hares are an excitable breed) she is now on oral and injectible antibiotics to help prevent the wound from re-abscesing, I am using a topical sulfa cream to dry the area and the other raw spot on her back. The wound must be left open to drain and she's constantly bothering it so she has to wear a soft e-collar, not that its done much good to prevent her from scratching at it with her back foot.. She is also on pain meds to keep her comfortable and while the photos below may be graphic this is a necessary part of the healing process.

Since I'm on the topic of health problems I thought I would mention Jasper also... he's been worrying me lately since he's been unable to maintain and is even losing weight despite being free fed and having a very good appetite.. what is the cause I do not know but I'm monitoring him closely..
Apart from these two bunnies things are okay at the rabbitry otherwise, I'm going to be shearing the Angoras down again this weekend (Didn't I just do that?) and working more on my various other projects although I think I'll be scrapping my outdoor enclosure ideas for the rabbits after my experience with bot fly larvae....
Jasper showing off his thin frame... not sure why he's so skinny..

Gem after the sedated removal of the larvae recovering in her cage, the significant amount of bloody discharge is unfortunately from her scratching at the wound with her rear foot. The e-collar prevents licking but cannot stop her from scratching. Her nails were trimmed while she was under but it can't prevent her from scratching. She is eating and drinking normally and will hopefully be protected with the antibiotics she is on. I'll post on her progress.


  1. What feed do you have them on Whitney? When I was on Fiber3, I had several perfectly healthy animals starving to death on a cup- 1 1/2 cups of feed- and for hollands thats 2- 3x what they should be fed. Thankfully we caught it.

    I'd consider putting a bit of apple cider vinegar into the water, just in case he's picked up some kind of bacteria.

  2. i think my rabbit has bot flies because it started out with a bald bump with the pencil size whole but after about a week his fur started to grow back and it seems to be better.Do you think that the bot flies are in him or maybe they left?

  3. My dog just had a cuterebra. Yuk