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Old 06/27/07, 12:38 PM
turtlehead's Avatar  
Join Date: Jul 2005
Location: Central WV
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Bot Fly larva - how to prevent?

We had a kit that had a couple of sore spots on his side. I noticed them a little over a week ago, when something got into the colony and killed another one of the kits. I thought perhaps this kit with the sore spots got wounded in the melee.

At the time, I thought about catching him and spraying him with Blue Kote or something but figured that'd stress him and I'd best just leave him alone but keep an eye on him.

He did okay for a while then deteriorated rapidly the last couple of days. Got skinny, and the sores turned into lumps.

We dispatched him, then cut open the lumps.
Bot Fly larvae are dark and BIG. Gross gross gross.

The adult lays eggs in the entrance to a burrow and the eggs hatch when the temps warm up and when they're brushed by a rabbit. Eggs can also be laid directly on the rabbits' fur, according to some sources. At any rate, the larva usually enters through the mouth or nose but can also enter through wounds, even tiny ones.

It's not related to clean/dirty living conditions; fly paper wont' work - the adult only lives about two weeks, long enough to mate and lay eggs. It does not eat (hasn't even got a mouth, apparently) so is not attracted to any particular color, odor, etc.

Does anyone know any way to prevent them? I have been googling my fool head off and can't find anything about prevention.
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Old 06/27/07, 08:45 PM
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Cuterebra - yuck!

No idea how you'd prevent them in a colony situation. Both my barn kittens last year had one.

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Old 06/27/07, 09:00 PM
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Location: Idaho
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I would suggest diamacious earth dusted around the entry of the burrow. My only concern is if it got in the rabbits eyes.
Thats the only thing I use around here and only when I have no other option.
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Old 06/27/07, 10:05 PM
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Location: Louisiana
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Chances are that there was a dead baby in the nest, that the maggots took over. They can then spread to the live babies or lay eggs on the live ones when they hatch.

This is why it is pertinent to check nests daily. I realize it may be difficult in a colony, but it's only part of good management.
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Old 06/28/07, 07:49 AM
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Pookshollow, yuck is right. How'd you treat your kittens? Now that I know this nasty exists, I'll catch it sooner next time.

Squashnut, I did put DE up there, after the fact. I scattered it on the poo because I didn't yet know they lay their eggs at burrow entrances, but next time I'll focus on the burrows. I didn't know if it would help but I had some on hand and figured it wouldn't hurt. You're right about the dust though. I worry about their eyes and their lungs.

Reauxman, if it were flystrike I'd agree with you. Cuterebra is different in that it is usually only one to three larvae. Plus this kit was out of the burrow already. I should have mentioned that in my original post.

You raise good points about management. I don't know how I'd check a burrow. So far my does have dragged out any dead kits and left them at the entrance to the burrow, and I get rid of them. Thanks for your input, it's good food for thought.
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Old 06/29/07, 04:07 PM
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Both kittens went to the vet - the first one because I thought he'd been kicked in the head, and he had a huge lump under his jaw. For some reason, they get this "poleaxed" look with the infestation. The second one was going in for his shots, and he had a lump on his side.

Now I know to check if the lump has a breathing hole, in which case I would cover it over until the thing had to come up for air, then I'd grab it with forceps. <shudder>

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Old 06/29/07, 11:08 PM
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Location: Mid MI
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Be very careful when removing it though that you do not crush it. If it is crushed it will releash a toxin that will send the animal into shock. We have had one removed from one of our cats. NASTY!!! The wound was on her cheek near where our lower ear would be......It never fully healed and she drooled out the "hole" that was left up until I had to put her down a year later for twisted intestines. Miss her terrible...she was such a lover and slept next to my head every night
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Old 06/30/07, 09:40 PM
Join Date: Dec 2004
Location: New Jersey
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There is a product called DeFlea that is natural and safe for even day old kittens so I imagine it would be safe for rabbits. The product melts the ectoskeleton on the flea, tick or lice so it would probably melt the bot eggs. The company is really nice and can probably help you if you call them. They helped me with my lice problem on my goats.
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Old 07/01/07, 09:26 AM
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There are different kinds of bot flies.

The kind that you are dealing with is called a warble

Go to Yahoo and put in warble and you will find help.

They attack rabbits, squirles, rodents, cattle.
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Old 07/02/07, 08:59 AM
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Thanks all!
Pookshollow, they get that "poleaxed look" (great description) because the larvae like to settle around the neck or legs. They do make a big old lump eventually.

If this had been a dog I'd have taken it to the vet. But for a meat rabbit kit, it wasn't worth the expense.

Wildfire Jewel, I had read about that toxin being released; I think if this ever happens to us again I'd try removing the larva anyway. If it can be removed intact, the animal might fully recover. If not, you can still euthanise it and you're no worse off than if you hadn't tried.

I'm sorry about your cat. Pets leave such a hole in our lives when they go.

Deetu, that's an idea worth looking into. Thanks for the suggestion!

Bumpus, I use Google instead of Yahoo but you're right, there's a lot of info out there about these things. I've not found anything on how to prevent them, though, just on how to treat them.

Folks say to put vaseline or vapo-rub on the hole and when the larva can't breathe it will wriggle partway out and then you can grab it with tweezers or forceps. Yuck. It seems to me vapo-rub might be painful to the rabbit.

Thanks for all y'all's input!
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Old 11/25/08, 02:02 AM
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Fly invasion

Those maggots that invade rabbits and cats are Cuterebra. They call this fly strike...I am a vet and I was just researching anecdotes about different animals infected by them.

I felt bad for the nice lady who lost her pet or was it a rabbit? to fly strike. You were discussing how to prevent it. I thought I would join the forum to let you know that since these are insects, repellants (made for pets) on the fur work great. One great brand is Frontline's topspot plus. Use it on rabbits which are several weeks old (follow the same guideline as for kittens on the box, I think you can use it on 7 weeks or older) or use it on your cats. It stays on the fur about 30 days repelling fleas, ticks and other insects.

The maggots will most probably be killed by it. And yes, the person who said not to squish them is right. The pet will react badly to the dead maggot in its flesh. I have heard you can put very thick vaseline on them and smother them and then pull them out with a forceps. Do not break the maggot though. It must come out in one piece.

Still, preventing it with the easy application of TopSpot Plus seems ideal.
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Old 11/25/08, 09:36 AM
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You cannot use Frontline on rabbits, it can cause seizures and death. As these are meat rabbits I don't think I'd want to put a spot on product on them, and then eat them. Fear of warbles are one of the main reasons that I don't have a colony, their just one of those things that you can't avoid. I'd try the DE, I'd be cautious with powders, sprays, research if they can be used on rabbits and on animals meant to be food and what the withdrawel period is.

I did a little research and it appears that you can dust Sevin on rabbits, and Advantage spot on stuff, but its the only one that appears to be safe for rabbits. Still don't know if I'd put it on meat rabbits, and I certainly wouldn't use it on a rabbits that has warbles.

Last edited by Honorine; 11/25/08 at 09:40 AM.
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Old 11/25/08, 11:28 AM
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Thanks for joining the forum. It will be interesting having a vet here. We have the same warble problem. Had them in a litter of kittens, and the mom had one in her nose which had to be removed. The kittens don't do very well once they have them. If you can, pull the larvae out and then use a syringe with no needle to flush the abscess out. Saline or peroxide and water will do o.k.

Check out fly predators. These things really help with all kinds of flies. They have drastically cut down the amount of flies we have on the property, and I haven't had a case of warbles since we've been using them. The flies that lay this type of larvea tend to feed and lay eggs in flesh, so make sure there's no rotting carcasses around the property. We had the carcass of a calf near the property and it really made the population explode. I later learned that they multiply thousands of time in rotting flesh, creating an explosion of these nasty things.

An essential oil repellent might work.
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Old 11/29/08, 11:42 AM
Duchess of Cynicism
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Location: NE Ohio
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I had no warble problem this year---put out the fly traps real early, well away from the rabbitry--
now Wild Child did develop the 'flystrike' while she was out on her own-- but as it turns out-- looks like she was actuallay the victim of "screwworm"-- Ohio has an active scerwworm protocol in place right now-- it is present this far north!!!

I found that by keeping the rabbits OFF THE GROUND-- they are less apt to be bnothered by fly larvae---

Living in the present is staying ahead of the past.
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Old 11/29/08, 05:10 PM
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15 years ago, we lived in a very dry oak savannah biome about 3 hours south of here, on a walnut farm. Our two dogs LOVED chasing squirrels and digging into their burrows. Our dog developed a lump on his side and I thought it was a foxtail abcess. Imagine my surprise and horror when a warble larva peeked out at me as I was getting ready to go digging for a foxtail. ICK! The vet said the eggs are attached near the entrance to burrows and mistook the dog for a very large rodent He never got another one, but holy buckets it was groooooooosss.
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