ISSN 2398-2969      

Flea control



  • Flea infestation Flea infestation is less common in rabbits than in dogs or cats. Less than 1% of rabbits presented to consult show pruritus, while this percentage is higher in dogs or cats.
  • Fleas can cause localized irritation to the rabbit and severe infestations can  → anemia and debility.
  • Fleas can transmit viral and bacterial infections among rabbits. Particularly the rabbit flea, Spilopsyllus cuniculi, has been implicated in the transmission of myxomatosis, rabbit hemorrhagic disease and Bartonella spp. In fact, introduction of rabbit fleas has been undertaken in Australia in order to spread myxomatosis and thus reduce the population of invasive rabbits.
  • The rabbit flea or European rabbit flea (Spilopsyllus cuniculi Spilopsyllus cuniculi) is found primarily on the ears and face of rabbits. Most often present where outside rabbits have contact with wild rabbits. However, most house rabbits more commonly get infested with the cat flea (Ctenocephalides felis Ctenocephalides felis). Occasionally, the dog flea (Ctenocephalides canis Ctenocephalides canis) can be found on rabbits. Infection with other species of fleas may depend on geographical location.
  • Preventative flea control is not commonly performed in rabbits; a study in the United Kingdom indicated that 80% of rabbit owners were not using flea control treatment for their rabbits.
  • Fleas are not host specific and the rabbit flea can be found in dogs and cats. In a study in the UK, 4% of cats and 2% of dogs with flea infestation harbored the rabbit flea Spilopsyllus cuniculi.

Uses of flea control strategy

  • Eliminate flea population on the animal.
  • Eliminate flea population in the environment.
  • Prevent re-infestation with fleas.

Flea control via animal

This article is available in full to registered subscribers

Sign up now to start a free trial to access all Vetlexicon articles, images, sounds and videos, or Login

Flea control via environment

This article is available in full to registered subscribers

Sign up now to start a free trial to access all Vetlexicon articles, images, sounds and videos, or Login


This article is available in full to registered subscribers

Sign up now to start a free trial to access all Vetlexicon articles, images, sounds and videos, or Login

Further Reading


Refereed papers

  • Recent references from PubMed and VetMedResource.
  • Dakroury M F & Darwish A A (2021) A comparative pharmacological study on moxidectin and propolis ointment in rabbits naturally infected with Psoroptes cuniculi. Iraqi J Vet Sci 35 (4), 725-731 IASJ.
  • Abdullah S, Helps C, Tasker S et al (2019) Pathogens in fleas collected from cats and dogs: distribution and prevalence in the UK. Parasit Vectors 12 (1), 71 PubMed.
  • Elhawary N M, Sorour S S G, Bazh E K et al (2018) Toxicity of fipronil in rabbits as a therapeutic drug for Psoroptes cuniculi: A preliminary observation. J Exper Appl Anim Sci (3), 260-265.
  • Chen C, Wang Y, Qian Y et al (2015) The synergistic toxicity of the multiple chemical mixtures: implications for risk assessment in the terrestrial environment. Environ Int 77, 95-105 PubMed.
  • ​Carpenter J W, Dryden M W & Kukanich B (2012) Pharmacokinetics, efficacy and adverse effects of selamectin following topical administration of flea-infested rabbits. Am J Vet Res 73 (4), 562-566 PubMed.
  • Scarff D (2008) Skin diseases of pet rabbits. UK Vet: Comp Anim 13 (2), 66-75 VetMedResource.
  • Hansen O, Mencke N, Pfister K et al (2006) Efficacy of a formulation containing imidacloprid and permethrin against naturally acquired ectoparasite infestations (Ctenocephalides felisCheyletiella parasitovorax and Listrophorus gibbus) in rabbits. Ing J Applied Res Vet Med (4), 320-325 VetMedResource.
  • White S D, Bourdeau P J & Meredith A (2002) Dermatological problems of rabbits. Seminars in Avian & Exotic Pet Medicine 11 (3), 141-150 ScienceDirect.
  • Hutchinson M J, Jacobs D E, Bell G D et al (2001) Evaluation of imidacloprid for the treatment and prevention of cat flea (Ctenocephalides felis felis) infestations on rabbits. Vet Rec 148 (22), 695-696 PubMed.
  • Jacobs D E, Hutchinson M J, Fukase T & Hansen O (2001) Efficacy of imidacloprid on rabbits naturally or experimentally infested with the cat flea, Ctenocephalides felisSuppl Comp Cont Educ Pract Vet 23 (4), 11-14.

Other sources of information

  • Dalley F, Oxley J A, Montrose V T et al (2018) Rabbit Health Practices of 202 Rabbit Owners. Vet Nurse (1) MagOnline.
  • Meredith A (2015) BSAVA Small Animal Formulary. Part B: Exotic Pets. 9th edn. BSAVA, UK. ISBN 978 1 905319 82 4.
  • Harcourt-Brown F (2014) Dermatoses. In: BSAVA Manual of Rabbit Medicine. Eds: Meredith A & Lord B. BSAVA, UK. ISBN: 978190531949-7.
  • Varga M (2014) Skin diseases. In: Textbook of Rabbit Medicine. 2nd edn. Butterworth Heinemann, UK. ISBN: 978-0-7020-4979-8.
  • Carpenter J W, Mashima T Y & Rupiper D J (2013) Exotic Animal Formulary. 4th edn. W B Saunders, USA. ISBN:  9781437722642.
  • Bowman D D, Lynn R C & Eberhard M L (2003) Georgis' Parasitology for Veterinarians. Elsevier, USA. ISBN: 0 7216 9283 4.

Can’t find what you’re looking for?

We have an ever growing content library on Vetlexicon so if you ever find we haven't covered something that you need please fill in the form below and let us know!


To show you are not a Bot please can you enter the number showing adjacent to this field

 Security code