Tuesday, June 7, 2011
Preventing "Fur Mites" In Your English Angora - Part I
You will often hear English Angora breeders make comments about “fur mites”. Although I do not know what type of creature our fur mites actually are, I do know there is some sort of parasitic creature that cannot be seen with the naked eye that loves to wreak havoc on the English Angora’s coat. A good English Angora will rarely matt or web badly while the coat is in its prime or building to its prime if consistently blown, but fur mites can take your beautiful best in show rabbit and turn it into one that is webbed and matted, especially behind the ears and on the shoulders.
In fact, if your rabbit is matting or webbing in those areas even though you are doing a good job at upkeep otherwise, your problem most likely is that these creatures are inhabiting your bunny. While I believe all rabbit breeds are susceptible, and their presence can lead to poor coat condition on a normal furred bunny, they are far more noticeable on our breed. So, one of the most important “grooming” routines you can have in your barn is the routine where you prevent fur mites.
Show rabbits are exposed to fur mites frequently, and I therefore am far more aggressive on treating show rabbits then I am in treating my stock that sits at home in the barn. The first thing that should be done with show rabbits is to treat internally, using ivermectin. You can use the ivomec wormer that is for pigs or cows, like I do, or the paste that is made for horses. You should review the label or speak to your vet to find the correct dosage for the brand that you use, but typically, the dosage would be .018 cc per pound of body weight of the liquid wormer. I do use more than that for the adult show rabbits – personally I administer .25 cc and have had success with that dose. Some people that use the paste state that the dosage is the size of a pea.
To administer, remove the liquid ivomec with a syringe, remove the needle and then give orally. If the English Angora actually has symptoms of fur mites, then do a second dose 10-14 days later to kill eggs, however, for maintenance on a show rabbit, I give once per month during show season. I administer it to my babies upon weaning, and to my breeding stock and anyone else that does not go to shows every three months. Stay tuned for Part II, which will address using sprays and powders in addition to the ivermectin.