Keeping animals outdoors often means a gathering of pesky flies in our barn, yard, or both. Flies are an inevitability as we move into the spring and summer months, and keeping flies out of the rabbit hutch is a job not to be taken lightly.
Rabbits are especially vulnerable to swarms of flies because they can fall victim to a condition called “flystrike”. According to Chris McLaughlin in her About.com article Treating Flystrike in Rabbits, “…flies are attracted to manure, urine, and otherwise wet or damp areas,” which definitely includes our rabbit’s hutch tray. It is possible for your rabbit’s rear end to get wet and mucky with the urine and feces, and that’s when flies strike (no pun intended). They lay their eggs on that wet and soiled area of your rabbit, creating a situation where your rabbit is now a host to a mess of maggots, eventually leading to your bunny’s death.
There are many things that can be done to keep flies out of the rabbit hutch. These are the strategies that I personally use:
- Hang rosemary or other aromatic herbs in the cage or hutch. Make sure these are either fine for the rabbit to eat, or hung out of your bunny’s reach.
- Add crushed garlic cloves, or even garlic peels and scraps to the hutch tray. Again, make sure that the garlic cloves or scraps are out of reach of your rabbit, though I doubt they would try to eat it anyway. Still, garlic can be toxic in large amounts for your rabbit, so best to be careful with it.
- Add aromatic herbs to the hutch tray—has the same effect as the garlic.
- Keep your hutch trays clean and dry as much as is possible. Scoop and rinse them frequently, and if you have it, add DE and pine shavings to the hutch tray to control urine odors after you scoop.
For further reading:
Treat Flystrike in Rabbits and Fly Control in the Rabbitry by Chris McLaughlin (About.com)